A fascinating new team activity that we recently rolled out for a customer \u2013 was what we call, \u201cThe Domino Challenge\u201d. It\u2019s a startlingly simple activity that teaches everyone involved profound lessons.\r\n\r\nThe activity entails a large team that is split into smaller sub-\u00ad\u2010units \u2013 working on arranging Domino stones one behind the other, at a precise distance and angle to one another. After all the stones are arranged very painstakingly, the first one is toppled \u2013 which in turn topples the next stone and so on, till every single stone is toppled, by the Domino effect.\r\n\r\nThe World record for this activity stands at 4491863 by Weijers Domino Productions. The India record for the same stands at a modest 11000 stones by the kids at the IIM Ahmedabad. See it here: http:\/\/youtu.be\/0xsBDw8d3X\r\n\r\nBesides the excitement, commitment, concentration and patience that this activity teaches us, there are a few more interesting lessons, it teaches.\r\nWe can never Over-communicate:\r\nCommunication plays a very crucial role in a Domino Building activity. It is imperative for each team members to know what the other member is doing and what are they collectively working for. While building the project it\u2019s also important to tell the peers what our next move will be so that others can place their stones in the correct positions as well.\r\n\r\nNot very different from the real world where most of the challenges happen because somewhere we fail to communicate precisely, isn\u2019t it? Since most work in corporates happen due to collaborative efforts of many individuals and teams, the more a team communicates, the more \u201cin-sync\u201d it naturally is.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you fail to plan, you plan to fail:\r\nAs in any project, the action starts on the field after the planning is over. It hence becomes critical that each team gets into the precise details of how their final structure will look like \u2013 and how it will hand-shake with the next segment, so as to meet the final team objective. Truly, the Devil does lie in the details. Teams who jump in without this necessary element of planning often end up with complex situations later.\r\n\r\nThe similarity with experiences in corporate life is uncanny here too. How often have we seen projects leading to a dead end or huge complexity, whenever the planning was not rigorous enough?\r\n\r\nWhat is the bigger picture:\r\nFor an individual who is placing Dominos at one corner of the project site, it\u2019s very natural to lose focus. Eventually he is only placing the same kind of dominos every time, which makes his work monotonous. It becomes very important for the leader to constantly remind all team members what they are finally working on. When the individual on the floor sees what the BIG PICTURE or the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is - his work starts to make a lot more of sense to him.\r\n\r\nSo too in corporates \u2013 where very often individuals are spread out in far-flung locations. If the leaders do not constantly motivate and remind the field force about the larger objective, work can become very meaningless and monotonous for people. All of us seek a higher purpose to our work \u2013 it\u2019s the leaders job to deliver it.\r\n\r\nJustified distance is Important \u2013\r\nWhen we place dominos for a project be it in any formation, it\u2019s important to watch out for the distance between 2 Dominos. If they are too far away they may not trigger the chain reaction and if they are too close they may not fall at all. So one needs to constantly monitor this distance between two adjacent dominos.\r\n\r\nQuite similarly in team dynamics, if the distance between team members is significant (metaphorically), it becomes difficult to perform as a team. At the same time too much proximity may often feel like intrusion of privacy for individuals. We constantly need to strive for the right balance within teams.\r\n\r\nWhat triggers you to action? \u2013\r\nHowever big or small a domino cascade is, the most important section is always the \u201ctrigger mechanism\u201d. This is a small arrangement of Domino stones at the beginning. If the trigger fails to function, the whole cascading arrangement may fail to tip over. Though very small in size, the trigger mechanism plays such an importance role in every Domino project.\r\n\r\nAnd so also in corporate teams, it is important for everyone to appreciate the role of every individual in the team \u2013 regardless of age, seniority, experience or job title held. The \u201cTrigger\u201d also signifies the role of motivation in starting of any action. Just like the dominos never stop once triggered (by and large), a project should go seamlessly if all members are constantly motivated to contribute in their roles. As they say, \u201cSuccess breeds success\u201d. Just as one Domino rightly placed can trigger many, so also one individual with the right motivation can inspire many in the team.\u00a0\r\n\r\nTrust other Teams:\r\nIn a Domino Project, large teams are always sub-divided into smaller teams who work on different segments. One sub-team may be working on a Wall, while other may be working on a tower or graphic. Each team however needs to place implicit faith in the work of the other teams for the project to be complete. \u00a0For example if one team makes a perfect wall but the trigger, which was expected from the previous team\u2019s structure never reaches - The wall would be of no use!! But that is the beauty of The Domino Challenge \u2013 that it forces people to trust that everyone else will do their jobs perfectly too. This encourages Teams while working on their own sections to constantly monitor other team\u2019s progress as well \u2013 and call out any risks they see. What a great state for all the teams be in, caring for others growth as well and always keeping trust that everybody will perform well.\r\n\r\nIf teams in corporates could think beyond their own small silos and work in a similar way, would that not be wonderful too?\r\n\r\nOne Wrong Move:\r\nAfter the Domino Project starts, the Team begins to work feverishly. They concentrate on developing solutions for the various construction challenges. Again and again you hear: \u201cOh no, not again\u201d when someone accidentally knocks over a domino and, in a split second, demolishes a part of the painstakingly constructed domino line or structure. The bigger the project, the bigger the impact of one small mistake! This signifies the importance to building expertise in team and making every single move as carefully as the first one.\r\n\r\nThere are many messages hidden in the Domino project to take away as learning points. But after all the hard work, the result comes with its own rewards.\u00a0 When the final chain reaction happens, the energy in the room is unbelievable. You see all your hard work performing perfectly in front of your eyes. It\u2019s the same way when corporate teams working hard on a project see it come off perfectly!\r\n\r\nWhen would you want your team to experience The Domino Challenge?