Management Exercise

In management courses, one of the tenets taught is that management encompasses four function: Planning, Organizing, Leading, and Controlling. A great exercise to use in class, to facilitate the discussion around these functions, is the following experiential activity:

Materials to Bring to Class:

  1. Masking Tape
  2. Several foot long rulers
  3. Prepare your “secret” path through the grid: Facilitators Secret Path

Step 1:

Have the students use the masking tape and the rulers to build a 6 feet wide by 9 feet long grid on the floor. If you have a class of 20 or less, then one grid will be sufficient. With more than 20 students, you may want to consider having two grids (and you will need two different secret paths). You will need a room that allows you to move tables and chairs. **Note – each “grid” will need a person that is holding a copy of the “secret” path, thus you may need another teacher/assistant if you have more than one grid.

Step 2:

Inform the class that this activity will be conducted in silence. The point of the game is for the students to figure out the “secret” path of the grid. The students are not allowed to use any writing utensils to keep track of the path.

Explain to them that a student will step onto a square on the first row of the grid. The monitor of the grid (the person holding the secret path) will say out loud, either “yes” or “no”. “Yes” will indicate that the student has stepped on the correct square that starts the path. “No” indicates that the student has not stepped on the correct square that starts the grid. Once a “yes” or “no” has been obtained, the student steps off of the grid.

Another student steps onto the grid and has to keep track of what is correct squares and what are not correct squares. Once a “NO” response is received on a square, the person must step off of the grid and another student starts the path again.

This sequence will be repeated as many times as needed to figure out the secret path through the grid. Let them know the path can go sideways, diagonally, etc.

When the entire path is figured out, the entire group (per grid), will move through the secret path following the leader style. If you have two groups, then you can have a “winner” of the contest, which puts a different dimension into the activity.

Step 3:

Allow each group, or team, (depending on how many grids you have) to discuss their strategy for how they are going to figure out the secret path. Give them a maximum of 2-3 minutes to figure out their strategy. Once the strategy is agreed upon, then the group must go into silent mode.

Step 4:

Have one facilitator per grid. Each facilitator has the secret path in hand. The groups start figuring out the path

Once Completed:

Have a discussion about the four functions of management. What did they experience when it came to planning, organizing, leading, and controlling? Discuss some of the behaviors they would have been looking for. Was there someone that demonstrated thinking ahead? Did someone, in the planning stage, identify that there had to be a non verbal “tracking” mechanism for each solved step of the puzzle? How did the group “evolve” even with no ability to verbally speak to one another? Often, changes in strategy happens without verbal cues. What role does creativity plan in the four functions of management as they went through the puzzle?

Let me know!

If you use this activity in a class, let me know how it goes! Would love to hear about what worked, what did not work, or any changes you may make to the activity

This is an activity best suited for an in class activity for a management course

COMING SOON! A video demonstration of the activity

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