Goals: Have your attendees work better together by trading places.
Time: 20–30 minutes
Participants: 8–12; even numbers
Technology: Audio, video, share screen, Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets Category: Innovation, collaboration, communication
Step 1: Download the Office Move Template from
bit.ly/evmofficeexcel or bit.ly/evmofficesheets. Step 2: Save the template to your server.
Step 3: If you have 10 attendees, remove all the Fs and 6s. If you have 8 attendees, remove all the Es, Fs, 5s, and 6s.
Step 3: Click “Share” and get a link to the Office Move document.
Step 4: Click “Share Screen.”
Step 5: Chat the link to the Office Move document.
Split your attendees into two groups.
Assign every attendee a letter or a number, 1 letter or number per attendee.
Instructions to the Audience: It's time for an office move and so the left-side team needs to exchange places with the right side. There are six rules that you cannot break. If you break a rule, you need to start over; you only have 10 attempts.
The six rules are:
You can only move forward.
You must remain on a space.
You can only move into open spaces.
You can only move around a person from the opposite side into the next open space.
You can only move around one person at a time.
Only one person may move at a time.
Assign each attendee one or more letters or numbers. They can only move their assigned letters or numbers. You can only move the numbers and letter in row 5.
An easy way to move is to put your cursor on the location you want to move from, hit Ctrl-X (to cut), move to your new location, and hit Ctrl-V (to paste). Are there any questions? Then, begin!
Tips: If the attendees get stuck, you can copy rows 3 to 5 to reset the letters and numbers. After every attempt, get your attendees to agree on what they are going to do differently in the next round.
Debrief: Look to see if the group plans, creates a joint strategy, or just moves without asking. A key discussion point is when a team is too overeager, moves, and ends up blocking the entire process. On the other side, the two teams can get into “analysis paralysis” by talking too long and
never moving, thus never solving the challenge. At five minutes, call a time-out and discuss what is going on before continuing. Another interesting point is if you observe a team making an illegal move and you don't say anything. Do they police themselves or does no one on the team say anything? This can be an excellent ethics and integrity conversation that can be weighed on what the real-world consequences could be for an illegal move. Finally, look for team momentum as they recognize the pattern and people begin to move quickly.
Solution: The trick to finding and remembering a solution lies in this hint: once a side begins to move, everyone on that side moves unless a move puts one person behind another person from the other side (avoid doing this since it makes a two-person block against the other side). Here are the key steps to the 35-step solution for 10 people.
Case Study: Two virtual teams that work together did Office Move. One team was here in the United States while the other was a development team in India connected by a telecon and the internet. The most obvious thing at the beginning was that everybody on every team was talking all at once and nobody was understanding anything because the teleconference line cut out when two or more people talked. Finally, an India teammate suggested a protocol of just one person talking at a time. They spent 15 minutes just talking over the ideas, but not moving at all. Eventually, they arrived at the strategy to the solution and both parties agreed to attempt it. Then, they started moving; it was the first time I had seen a team complete it on their first attempt. There was a lot of communication before someone made a move, but as each teammate bought into the plan and saw the pattern, the team moved faster and faster and faster. The final half of the moves took a mere three minutes to complete and the teams had switched places with no failed attempts!
In the debrief, they realized that the planning at the beginning paid off immensely and that they had not been doing that at work. They had been working on code and then “throwing it over the wall” to the other team at the end of the workday. There was a lot of work, rework, and frustration about doing it two different ways. This led to a meeting about defining goals and process and the team hit their first key milestone ahead of schedule for the very first time!