We had our 1st of the 4 complimentary webinars on the Metalog Tools on the 18th of January. Thank you to the wonderful Christiane Kleyna for sharing her experience and ideas about Tower of Power through this webinar.
WHAT IS THE TOWER OF POWER?
We know that great teams make great things happen. But the constant challenge of meeting or even exceeding objectives is very demanding for everyone involved. How should we treat each other? What’s important for teamwork? Who’s taking the lead? These are just a few questions amongst many that need answering. The answers are the key to producing effective and synergetic teamwork.
The trainer places 8 wooden blocks upright on the floor. Each team member picks up one of the ropes that are connected to a crane. The task is to use the crane to build a tower by placing the blocks on top of each other. The participants are not allowed to touch the blocks with their hands or any other part of their bodies. The task appears simple but with each block cut at a different angle and the need for all participants to work together, building the tower starts to get tricky! This task can only be solved by precise planning, good communication and well-organised teamwork.
Question: In case the group fails (with the activity), what do you say, or do you repeat the game?
Christiane: Great question! Yes, it’s often the case that the team doesn’t succeed or will fail. This is good because it’s mirroring everyday business. In this case you go into the post-process and analyse the ‘why’‘why did it happen?’ or ‘what could we have done to succeed?’ So, you arrange your question afterwards. Failures are good because the learnings are even better. It’s up to you as a trainer which questions you ask in the debrief. You need to extract from the participants, by coaching them to the right answers and supporting them to talk about their feelings, what they missed during the process. For example, in some cases, the blindfolded person felt lost and like nobody was talking to him or her. This is often the case when the activity fails. Some people are passive, or non-talkers or non-listeners, or everyone is talking, and no one is listening to each other. Failing to build the tower is a good opportunity to learn.”
Shilpa: To add on to that, the other part of the question was about ‘would the activity be repeated or not’ and I’m curious about your inputs. I’ve got a few thoughts on that, but before I jump in with that, I’m curious what you think. Have there been situations where the teams failed, you brought out these powerful insights from them and they recognize, ‘OK we failed because we were not listening to each other, or we failed because we weren’t really communicating clearly, or there was no leadership role’…and do you give them another chance to redo it? I know it depend on how much time you have allotted for that activity, but I’m curious and you give people a chance to redo it?
Christiane: ‘I think it depends on your design, I might step forward with another tool, with another setting, it’s just how you feel about it as a trainer. I cannot give you a recommendation, it’s just a question of the design and time you have. You might have a full day workshop planned and this was just a warmup activity, so it’s up to you as a trainer if you think you need to do it again post the insights and debrief.”
Question: How do we address situations where the boss and direct reports are in a session together and there are cultural or hierarchical undertones that need to be managed to make sure the session is inclusive, and participants feel empowered to share freely?
Christiane: “I would recommend leaving them out. To just let the team members, play and interact, and the superior can watch what’s going on. Because if he’s too mindful and too powerful, people can feel pressured to behave in a certain way or be passive and that almost negates the point of the activities. So just let them watch what’s going on. Don’t let them be a member of the interaction. Address that clearly at the beginning so they that they know that the important part is for them watch and see what’s going on. In the post-processing reflection time (debrief), you can offer them a chance to weigh in on what they observed and discovered.”
Shilpa: “I’m absolutely behind Christiane’s suggestion of having them out of the activities and using them more as observers. Make the observer role sound important and not something everyone can do…but because of their experience they can observe and recognise what’s happening. There have been situations where we haven’t been able to exclude these people due to dynamics or for whatever reason. In those cases what I do is give the person the most minimal role in the whole activity. For example, you can blindfold them, so they can’t see what’s going on and they’re entirely dependent on the feedback of the team – who will probably be too busy, because Tower of Power is a very engaging activity, to answer their questions. Or limit their role is some other way, like they can’t speak. Changing their role in the activity from their role in the real world should help.”
Question: “I have a couple of questions and all of them are revolving around the Tower of Power product itself. In your experience Christiane, what is the average time or the best average time that a team takes to build up the tower”.
Christiane: “Anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, it depends on the performance of the team, and it also depends on the rules. If you make it more difficult, that will need more time. So, it just depends on your own design, and how fast and how well established the team is.”
Question: “What happens at the beginning of the activity? How do you position the blocks? Standing, handed out or laying on the floor for them to pick up? How does the activity start?
Christiane: “I start out with the upright standing blocks. If laid flat on the floor they cannot be picked . I start with setting the blocks in an upright position on the floor and you can make the choice, for example, to put a rope around them and section off an area that the tower must be built in. You can make that area smaller or bigger to control the difficulty.”
Question: “I read in the first slide that there are 24 strings that are connected to the crane or the hook, but what do you do if you have fewer people?”
Christiane: “Good observation and good question. The regular Tower of Power has 12 positions with two strings each, so you can have up to 24 people with this activity. You can remove the strings from the crane if you have fewer people. If I have four participants, I just use four positions and each person holds a string. I do I have two Tower of Power tools, the standard version, and the more complicated version. With the more complicated one you can have up to 34 participants. I sometimes mix and match the blocks from the standard and the more complicated tool to challenge the participants and myself as a trainer.”
If you’d like to know more about the Tower of Power or other Metalog Tools please visit https://metalogtools.asia/ and if you’d like to what the whole complementary webinar click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLPtLUEn10c