Energizer: Build a Bridge

Build a Bridge comes from Interaction Associates. It's an energizer and team building activity that requires no special materials. It can teach the same lessons of prototyping and integration as the Marshmallow Challenge, but can be done on the fly without the need to bring marshmallows and spaghetti with you. Build a Bridge also brings awareness to group dynamics and interpersonal conflicts against a model of Results, Process, and Relationships.

The object is to use paper and tape to build a free-standing, four-foot long, two-foot tall bridge capable of supporting the weight of a rolling ball of paper. Break participants into groups, and give them 10 min to plan and 8 minutes to build. Tell them that as they plan, they must come to consensus on a design. After the groups have built their bridges, test them with a rolling ball of tape and paper. Then, ask open ended questions to draw people out and help them listen for a 10 minute debrief of the activity.

Success in results means the bridge was able to support the weight of the rolling ball. Success in process means that the approach and design was achieved by drawing on the best ideas of all the participants. Success in relationships means that there was full participation, mutual understanding, and inclusive decisions. Ask the groups how they did in each of these three areas.

Build a Bridge can quickly recreate powerful group dynamics and provide participants with an objective lens to judge their own strengths and weaknesses. Most groups make results their top priority, followed by process, then relationships. This exercise highlights the need to give all three equal importance. The three-part model of results, relationships, and process is a good principle to refer back to over the course of your event.