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Peter Senge – team exercises anyone?


I am running a workshop for 18 senior managers shortly and want to build in an exercise that can demonstrate Peter Senge's model - in particular how teams perform better when the leader creates a positive tension between themselves and the team so that everyone can move towards a shared vision.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

3 Responses

  1. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook


    I have found that Senge’s book ‘The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook’ is very useful as it includes ‘tools and strategies for building a learning organization’ as the blurb says, and actually does include some good ideas to use on individual, grupal and organisational levels.  Amazon uk have it for about £13 at the moment which seems a bargain considering how much knowledge and experience seems to have gone into the book.  Another good resource is Peter Checkland’s ‘Systems Thinking Systems Practice’ which has some good ideas on applying soft systems methodology, I particularly like the ideas for using Rich pictures, whcih I have used several times and found highly effective in helping teams and leaders understand their own interactions and relations.  Finally, I always fall back on the ‘father’ of Senge, Chris Argyris for some very useful input especially from his book ‘Overcoming organisational defenses’ and use some input from that once sytems and relations have been mapped and it’s time for action (learning).

    I hope this helps.  I know you were probably looking for specific activities but you will find many examples in Senge’s book and probably will need to choose the most relevant and adapt to the specific team/organisation and therefore this is probably the best resource for that.

    Hope this helps


  2. Seeing the big picture

    The beer game is excellent but quite detailed. If you are just looking for a warm-up exercise which doesn’t take too long, gets people on their feet and smiling then this is one I have used many times very successfully:

    1. Split into groups of 6-8. Give each team a ball (tennis ball sized or smaller).

    2. The first person throws randomly to someone in the group

    3. They throw to another random person who hasn’t had the ball yet

    4. Continue until everyone has had the ball once and only once

    5. They have to remember this sequence of people

    6. Now, repeat as fast as they can (you can either time them using a stop-watch or get them to compete against each other)

    7. Try again as they will be pretty slow this time. Keep repeating until they get really good.

    8. They will make themselves into a smaller circle, get into the right order so it can just be passed to the person next to them and sometimes they get the idea of holding their hands one above the other (in a kind of tube) and dropping the ball down so that everyone touches the ball in order in about 1 second!

    9. The idea of this is that if you are just one segment in the system then you just pass to the next person quicker and quicker but don’t make any step change. If you stand back and understand the whole structure of the system then you can manage it so that it is much more efficient and effective.

    If you need any more help on this, email me on

    — Anna Davis Professional Coach and Consultant

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