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Seb Anthony

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Team Building Animal Exercise


I have read somewhere about a short exercise that can be used for a team building day; but now I can't find it. Has anybody heard of it? Do you have a trainer brief that I can use. From what I can remember it asks the individuals to draw a picture of how they see themselves as a team in animal format.
Gwen Turpin

5 Responses

  1. Is this metaphor?
    Hi Gwen

    I have used this technique (people variously refer to it as metaphor or visualisation) on many different courses, often as part of the intro/ice breaker. The idea is to ask “If this team were an animal, what would it be?” I’ve often just got people to talk through their choice by explaining why, for example, they see the team as an octopus (lots of different legs going their own way) or as a butterfly (flitting from task to task), or a swan (all serene on top but paddling like crazy underneath) or like a rabid dog (no one wants to come near it). Of course, people can draw their animal, although I’m often reluctant to ask them to do this because I am such a rubbish artist myself and know how they feel! The important thing is to get them to explain in some detail why they see the animal this way. You can add a further dimension by asking what sort of animal they would like it to be?

    Hope this helps. Do email me if you’d like to discuss further.

    Jenny James

  2. …or here is a derivative!
    1. team brainstorms the characteristics of the team at present
    2. design a composite animal that has these characteristics brainstorms the characteristics that we need to have in order to achieve the vision/change/improvement a composite animal with these characteristics
    5. team identifies what needs to happen to make the change from 2. to 4.

    PS it also works with things other than animals such as a person or machine,

    PPS if you think that they might have trouble drawing; give them a stack of glossy mags and a “Blue Peter” kit and have them make a collage

  3. Can be used for individuals too
    I have also used it for feedback within the group. Each person identifies an animal associated with each member of the team and what characteristics trigger this vision.

  4. Working with metaphors
    I have used something similar with a senior management team by splitting them into pairs and each decribes the other as an animal and a mode of transport, discuss the reasons why and then feedback on their partners behalf to the main group. For example, one guy was described as a tiger and a submarine – no one saw him coming but when he arrived he had a devastating effect. His learning from this was that others perceived him as quiet, unassuming and mostly working in the background – unless something within the team triggered a reaction which drove him into action. The point was that he could influence the direction the team was taking during the process and not have to react later to bring the situation back into his line of thinking. Its quite a humorous exercise, but you need fairly established teams to make it work.

  5. Animal Exercise

    Without wishing to dismiss any of the ideas you have had, which can work well, may I express some caution?

    Beware of using this for any sophisticated organisation or experienced management team, who might a) have seen this before, many times, and/or b) feel it is very patronising.

    Worth asking your head honcho first? Some love it – others might detest it!

    Good luck!



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