Classroom Activity: The Minefield

 minefield_small
A customer wants to move a box across a 4×4 minefield. The minefield is at a distance from where the customer is located. Hence, the customer has hired a chain of Messengers and an Executor to carry out this task. However, the Messengers have no idea which squares of the minefield have mines; only the customer has that information. Moreover, the Messengers cannot talk to each other and must only use sign language to transmit messages to the Executor at the end of the chain. The challenge is to safely move the box across the minefield without stepping on a mine.

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When to Use

Use this game when the learning objective is any of the following:

  • Establish the importance of top down, bottom up and all round communication
  • Create processes that succeed in spite of unexpected changes
  • Appreciate the importance of team work in the success of an organization
  • Discover how agility leads to success

Participants

Minimum: 10

Maximum: 20 (though it can be done in larger groups by creating several teams)

Time

40 – 45 Minutes

Supplies

  • Printed maps of minefields on A4 size sheets
  • Thermacol or cardboard
  • Pin flag / coin to chart final route
  • A digital stopwatch to keep time

Preparation

  • Keep the three prints of the minefields ready.
    1. Customer’s minefield view
    2. Executor’s minefield view
    3. Facilitator’s minefield view (Customer’s + Executor’s view)
  • If you have more than 12 participants, divide the group into two teams. Each team should have a minimum five Messengers, one Executor, and one Customer. Based on the number of participants, you can vary the number of Messengers, Customers and Executors.
  • Identify the area in which this activity will be carried out. Refer to the activity hand-out to understand the layout of the game.
  •  Identify the positions for each player – Customer, Messengers, Executor. Refer to the activity hand-out to understand the layout of the game.
  • Keep a blank minefield grid ready on thermacol or cardboard. This will eventually be handed to the Executors and it will act as the fictitious minefield across which the box needs to be moved.

Flow

  1. Divide participants into two teams of 8-10 people.
  2. Explain the rules as provided below.
  3. Allow teams to take up to 10 minutes to plan their strategy.
  4. After 10 minutes, ask the Customer, the Messengers and the Executor to take their designated spots. Refer to the activity hand-out to understand the layout of the game.
  5. Tell participants that they cannot talk or move from their designated places.
  6. Start the game by handing over the minefields to the Customers. The Customer must select a safe route through the minefield, convert it into a message which will be passed through the chain of messengers to the executors.
  7. Also, hand out the minefield grid to the Executor. Note that the Executor has an additional mine which is not present on the Customer’s grid. Do not bring this to the attention of the team and observe how the Executor and the team reacts to this additional information.
  8. The Executor receives the messages from the last Messenger in the chain and uses the flag or a coin to chart out the route on the thermacol/cardboard grid. The Executor must carry out the exact steps as received through the last Messenger.
  9. If the box lands on a square with a mine, the team is given a negative score (-100) and the box has to begin its journey again from the start.
  10. The game ends when the box is successfully transferred across the minefield.
  11. If you have more than one team, the team which transfers the box in the shortest time with the highest score wins the game.

Rules

  • Nobody can talk throughout the game. All messages and instructions must be passed non-verbally using signs or body actions.
  • The Messengers will be positioned at a fixed spot and they cannot move from the spot.
  • Teams can decide if they want to send one instruction at a time or the whole instruction at one go.
  • The box can move in all 9 possible directions.
  • Only the customer knows where the mines are.
  • If the box falls on a mine, the team loses 100 points and the box has to begin the journey again from start.
  • The team that finishes successfully in the shortest period with higher score wins the game.
  • Silence break by anyone leads to a deduction of 10 points.
  • The Executor carries out the commands coming through the chain on the blank thermacol/cardboard grid. A coin/flag can be used to trace the journey of the box across the minefield.
  • The timer starts the moment the Customer is handed over the minefield and only stops when the box crosses the minefield successfully.

Learning Connection

Once the game is over, the facilitator can lead a discussion by asking the following reflective questions:

  • Were you successful? Why / Why not?
  • What was the ultimate goal of the game?
  • What did you discover? What happened after you discovered the new information?
  • Did you plan for top down and bottom up communication? How did that impact the game?
  • Did you and your customer work like a team to achieve a single objective?
  • How can you do better?

Have fun playing this game in your class and let us know how it went. Download PDF

Cover Illustration: Sneha Malani

Ajay Dasgupta

Ajay Dasgupta is the co-founder and VP, Global Sales at Epiphany Learning. In a career spanning over 18 years he has worked with several large organisations and implemented learning strategy and learning programs. While he focuses on learning strategy, technology and marketing, he his still an instructional designer at heart. He can be reached at - ajay.gupta@epiphanylearning.co.in

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