Powerful team building activity for corporate training : Many Cooks

Name: Many cooks

Shared by: Andrew Rea

Materials required: Depends on the item chosen

Time: 20

No of participants: 20-25


Split the people into groups of about 4 or 5 in different parts of the room.

Each group is given a box of materials and a set of tasks to be achieved – things such as make a paper cube 10cmx10cmx10cm, make name badges for all the team, make a paper chain with ten links and five different colours etc.

Every group has the same tasks, but no group has enough materials to do everything required. There are, however, enough resources across the all the boxes for all the tasks to be completed (Facilitator not to share this fact)


It is fascinating to watch, and then debrief, what happens over the next ten minutes. People assume that the “team” means their sub-group, not the whole group. People have spare tools/materials but are reluctant to share, some tasks get duplicated while others go unfinished etc.

What were the challenges faced?

What did you do when you realized you do not have all the resources needed?

How could you have attempted this differently?

How can you relate this to your workplace?


Judeline Nicholas : Divide the group into teams, provide the each team with some resources – (not all, but most, so they have to ask each other for key items), then ask them to build a track (with certain twists and min length etc.) that will drop a ping pong ball into a cup in sequence….this means that not only must they work together as a team to design and build the track but they must also negotiate with other teams for resources AND work WITH the other teams to ensure the drops are in sequence (the tracks must vary in length). It all stops at a set time…then make sure you video the drop. All the while mingling with the teams and note what is being said, who is doing what so that when it comes to the debrief you can add to the discussion. Points that can be drawn out include: De Bono’s 6 hats; Tuckman; leadership; feelings of inclusion / exclusion / being heard/ valued/ having a role; competition etc.

Darcie Suits Davis :Give each team a box/bag filled with exactly the same materials. Ask them to build something within a certain time period but that’s all the instructions they get. The debriefing questions at the end helps them learn about themselves and the role they play on a team. For instance, facilitator might ask, “Who was the first to take action?” “Who was the most uncomfortable without rules?”

Paige Sandbom: Team of 3 – one is the Builder, one is the Communicator and one is the Observer. The Builder and Communicator have the exact same bag of Legos. The Communicator builds their contraption first, with out the Builder seeing or hearing about it. Then place the Communicator and Builder back to back and the Communicator tells the Builder how to build what they (the Communicator) has already built within a certain time limit (2 – 4 mins is usually enough). The objective is for the Builder to reconstruct what the Communicator has previously built by listening to their instructions, and asking questions. The Observer is observing the whole time, and at the end of time, all of the Observers in the group comment on how their team did and what strategies worked and what didn’t. Then they all switch places and go again – each person gets an opportunity at each role.

Katie Julien who originally learnt from Dr. Michael Scantlebury: The participants are put into five groups of five’s and given random items to tell a story, build a house – any activity/task that calls for collaboration and effective communication among team members. However, they need to go through the stages of team building – forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. First facilitator asks them to discuss their strategy without touching any of the items, next he instructs them to begin building by utilising their strategy without saying a word, then build while discussing their strategy. Any member found touching the items or speaking when they aren’t supposed to disqualifies the entire team. Another would be to give them a certain number of picture cards to create a funny story utilising all the cards allowing each member to relate one sentence of the story – without discussing with each other the strategy to be used.

Curated by Lovely Kumar, Co-Founder, Larks Learning Pvt. Ltd. Please contact on 91-9899108659 or lovely@larkslearning.com for team building and other behavioural workshops.