This activity illustrates how the same instructions can produce wildly different results.
- One index card or 81/2 by 11 piece of paper per participant.
Space Required: Can be indoors or outdoors.
Group Size: Small to large. There is no size restriction. The only restriction is the amount of resources available.
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 5 minutes for the activity
- 10 minutes to review and debrief
- Participants can stand or sit in any configuration. Give each participant an index card or 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. Scissors are optional.
Running the Activity
- Participants will be led in several rounds by the facilitator. Although the instructions are the same for everyone, the end results will vary.
- Round 1: Have each participant fold their piece of paper in half.
- Round 2: Ask them to tear off the top right corner.
- Round 3: Ask them fold the paper in half again.
- Round 4: Ask them to tear off the bottom left-hand corner.
- Round 5: Ask them to fold it in half again.
- Round 6: Ask them to tear off the top left corner.
- You can be creative in what you ask them to tear off. It can be a corner or a side of the paper.
- Finally, ask them all to open their paper up to its original flat size and hold it up for everyone to see.
- The designs will vary based on how each participant carried out your instructions.
Suggested Learning Outcomes
- Problem Solving
- Being open-minded
- Creating clarity
Activity Guidance and Notes
Participants may ask you questions to try to determine exactly “how” you want them to fold the paper. For example, do you want them to fold it horizontally or vertically? Just reiterate your original instructions. How they carry out your instructions is personal to each participant. There is no wrong answer.
This activity is designed to illustrate how participants can be rigid in their thinking. It is a good way to start a training and a framework to talk about how people see situations differently and to be open to new ideas.
Suggested questions to ask:
- What assumptions did you make about this activity?
- Did you complete the activity with, or without, copying a colleague’s move?
- Did you assume that all of the papers would look the same?
- Did you feel there was a “right” way to complete the activity?
- Where do assumptions and constrictions reduce creativity in the workplace?
- How would being more open-minded to new ideas improve your effectiveness and happiness in the workplace?