Double, Overlapping Strategic Cross — Remote HQ

Sharon Landes

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If you're looking for a way to challenge participants with an experiential exercise, this works well. I typically use it as a learning experience for all Five Practices at once. It also can be focused on Enable Others to Act, or help to emphasize Inspire a Shared Vision.

First set up your Strategic Cross grid.

  • You'll want to do that in a separate room, or in some way keep the group from being able to see the grid before you're ready for them.
  • I use brightly colored surveyors tape to lay out the grid which creates excitement and makes it seem more real. You can use masking tape, or even have folks stand on sheets of paper.
  • Lay out two Strategic Crosses that overlap in the shape of a + and share the same open center space. (Not counting the open center space, the number of squares you'll need for each of the 2 segments of the + is one half the number of people in the group, minus two, with half of those squares on either side of the open center space. You don't need an even number of people. If you have an odd number, you'll have an extra square on one side of the open center square.)

 

Divide the group into 4 sub teams, A through D.

  • Give each sub team to a minute to nominate one person to be on the Executive Team and have the Executive Team move to the side
  • To up the ante even further, blindfold a few people at random on each of the sub teams (blindfolds will need to stay on throughout the activity).

Describe the task in very broad terms, creating a scenario that makes sense in the client context.

  • For example: You're creating an interactive logo for your new product launch and the CEO is coming by to see it, with your best customer, in 30 minutes.

Leave the Executive Team where they are for a minute and bring the rest of the group to where the grid is laid out.

  • Arrange the sub teams on the grid, facing each other as above.
  • Distribute the "Instructions for Field Locations" only and let them know that the "clock is starting and they'll have 30 minutes." Do not answer any questions.
  • Go back to the Executive Team and distribute both "Instructions for Headquarters" and let them know that the "clock has already started and all the information you have for them is on their instructions sheets." Do not answer any questions.

Travel back and forth between the Executive Team and the Field as the exercise progresses to observe their process.

  • Intervene only if the group seems ready to "blow off the rules" and do so in a way that will be in sync with the context you've created. (Although, you should give them a chance to self-monitor before you step in.) For example: they represent the client and the client wants and expects a logo that can perform within the rules & constraints.
  • As time is running out, you can offer some extra time, up to 10 minutes, but leave that up to a consensus of the group. (Their decision can be an interesting element to debrief.)

Debrief

  • Start with "what happened" and then begin to focus the discussion.
  • Explore the use of the Five Practices, making sure to talk about individual behavior, not just the group as whole
  • There are issues galore that will come up - communication, support, cooperation vs. competition, ethics, shared vision, the best role/function for executives to take on, creativity and initiative, who gets heard and why, the interplay between leadership and "followership", speaking up, checking out, etc.-so, ENJOY!

Copies of the handouts follow.

Note: A single "strategic cross" is completed by starting with 1 move in one direction, followed by 2 moves in the other direction, then 3 moves from the 1st direction, 4 moves from the other direction, and so on? then in descending order once people start arriving at their final positions.

STRATEGIC RE-ALIGNMENT

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HEADQUARTERS: Team A-B

THE GOAL:

The task is complete when all team members in the field locations complete the objective of moving from their initial positions to their final positions.

CONSTRAINTS:

  • Only one representative from each management team may serve as a liaison with each field team at any given time.
  • All but the liaisons must remain in the HQ designated area.
  • This paper my not leave the HQ designated area.
  • The time limit for the task is 30 minutes.

INITIAL POSITIONS:

 

STRATEGIC RE-ALIGNMENT

INSTRUCTIONS FOR HEADQUARTERS: Team C-D

THE GOAL:

The task is complete when all team members in the field locations complete the objective of moving from their initial positions to their final positions.

CONSTRAINTS:

  • Only one representative from each management team may serve as a liaison with each field team at any given time.
  • All but the liaisons must remain in the HQ designated area.
  • This paper my not leave the HQ designated area.
  • The time limit for the task is 30 minutes.

INITIAL POSITIONS:

 

STRATEGIC RE-ALIGNMENT

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FIELD LOCATIONS

You are a sub-team located in a Field Location, and will be so for the next 30 minutes.

You might take time to discuss how you want to work together.

You must follow the guidelines below.

  • There are only two (2) legal ways of moving.
    1. You may move into an empty space directly in front of you.
    2. You may move around one person if that person is facing you and there is an empty space directly behind that person.
  • No one may turn around or move backwards.
  • If the team reaches an impasse, you must start over from the beginning.
  • Only one person may move at a time.
  • Only one person may occupy a square at a time.

A big thanks to all the folks on whose work I've piggy-backed in creating this variation of the Strategic Cross, a.k.a. "traffic jam."

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