Cash Flow Exercise

Cash Flow Exercise

Edith Katz

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To participate in a process improvement exercise and experience the associated behaviors.


Minimum 5-6 participants. For groups of 15 or more, break into two smaller groups.

Time Required

20 minutes

Materials and Equipment

1. Wall chart paper displaying the following columns and rows:

  Estimated Time Actual Time
Run 1    
Run 2    
Run 3    

2. Markers

3. Clock with a second hand or a stop watch

4. One quarter coin for each team or group

Area Set-up

An open area large enough for all participants to form a circle while standing.


1. Ask participants what behaviors are associated with Challenge the Process. Record their responses on a wall chart.

2. State that participants will now have an opportunity to apply the practice through an activity called Cash Flow.

3. Ask participants to form a circle. Ensure that they have elbow room.

4. Produce a quarter. Place it on the back of your hand and explain the following:

  • The coin must pass completely around the circle.
  • Everyone in the system must "touch" the money moving through. No downsizing!
  • Regulations prevent us from allowing anyone to secure the fund passing through. (You can only have contact with the quarter with the back of your hand.)
  • The funds must flow.
  • If the funds are dropped, you must begin the process over.

5. Ask participants to estimate a time (i.e., to set a goal) for successful completion of the task. Record this figure in the "Estimated Time/Run 1" square on the chart.

6. Conduct the first "run". Time the participants. Record the actual time in the "Actual Time/Run 1" square on the chart.

7. Ask participants if they think they can improve upon their performance. Clarify rules as necessary. Allow the group to discuss.

8. After participants have developed a new plan, ask for a new time estimate. Record this time in the "Estimated Time/Run 2" square on the chart. Start the second "run" and record and compare the group's estimate to actual.

9. Continue to challenge the group to improve their effectiveness. Note: It is possible to complete this activity in "n" seconds, where "n" equals the number of participants (e.g., 7 participants = 7 seconds to completion). If the group's faith wanes, share this timing information with the participants.


Wall chart ideas and thoughts generated from the following questions:

What specifically did you do that enabled you to improve your productivity?

Note: possible answers may include brainstorming of new ideas, listening to all ideas, modeling the way, working as a team, being open to change, breaking the process into smaller parts, etc.

How can you apply these behaviors in your roles at work?

Adapted from The Leadership Challenge Activities Book, edited by Elaine Biech, ©2010. Published by Pfeiffer, An Imprint of Wiley. All Rights Reserved.

Edith Katz is Employee Development Manager at Brooks Health System in Jacksonville, Florida where she facilitates an 11-week Leadership Challenge series that includes specific action learning assignments for each of The Five Practices. She can be reached at



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