How to use any team business simulation game to explore Team Dynamics

Article by Ken Thompson, last updated April 2017

A team business simulation game on any topic whatsoever can also be used as a very effective observatory of team dynamics (and also individual leadership styles). Just to get you started here is an example of the kind of thing you can do.... 


Start with  some "Fresh Thinking" on Teamwork: for example: In my Bioteams book I describe a very useful biological definition of "team work" based on the work of two biologists Carl Anderson and Nigel Franks who undertook unique research into insects, animal, human and even robot teams. In doing so they had to develop a unique but extremely unambiguous way to assess whether particular group activities constituted ‘teamwork’.   Anderson and Franks looked at 4 different types of tasks teams undertake:

  1. Individual Tasks (Solowork)
  2. Group Tasks (Crowdwork)
  3. Partitioned Tasks (Groupwork)
  4. Team Tasks (Teamwork) These 4 types of teamwork are summarised in the diagram and described in more detail in Top teams understand the 4 different types of Teamwork in Nature

Back to the simulation game All you do is to simply explain the 4 types of teamwork and hand out the diagram to the groups playing the simulation game. All they have to do, as they play the game, is to also identify which type of teamwork they are currently engaging in – e.g. by placing a red dot in the appropriate quadrant.

Then at the end of the game the groups summarise what types of teamwork they have played by counting the red dots and discuss what new insights this gives them by considering 3 questions:

Q1: Which type of teamwork dominated and which was most neglected?

Q2: Which type of teamwork felt most and least effective/comfortable?

Q3: What rules of thumb can be festablished around when to select each of the 4 types of teamwork?

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Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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