The Map Game is a team building activity that focuses on communication. It requires some preparation and facilitation and must be played by pairs, though many pairs can take part simultaneously.Summary by The World of Work Project
The Map Game
The map game is a team-building activity in which individuals sit back to back and try to communicate directions to each other.
The facilitator prepares for this game by finding two different maps of the same area, one with street names on it and one without (you can make maps from the internet quite easily).
The facilitator takes their extracted maps and copies them into a document so that one is in landscape orientation and the other is portrait.
The facilitator then puts two place-markers on the portrait map (location A and location B). The facilitator then prints the maps out so that there are enough copies for half of the participants to receive a landscape map, and half to receive a portrait map.
Some example maps are provided here so you can see what they may look like, but it’s better to complete the activity with maps you make your self, particularly if they can have some relevance for your participants.
To undertake the activity, the facilitator splits the room into pairs. One member of each pair is a “navigator” and one is a ”listener”. The paired participants are asked to sit with their backs together, so all listeners are facing one way, and all the navigators are facing away from them.
The facilitator then gives all the navigators a copy of the portrait map (showing the place-markers for locations A and B) and all the listeners a copy of the landscape map (without the place-markers on it).
The facilitator starts the exercise by explaining that the exercise is simple. Everyone in the room has a map and all that’s involved in the activity is for the navigator to explain to the listener where points A and B are on of the map, and for the listener to draw a route between them. The exercise ends when all pairs have completed the exercise.
The pairs then complete the activity. They usually all start with their maps held as they have been received (landscape / portrait) and struggle significantly to communicate effectively. Over time the participants will start to identify useful points of reference and then ultimately they will be able to complete the activity. Some of the listeners may even realize that their maps are not the right way and and rotate them.
If things are particularly difficult, a facilitator may provide a few hints and tips.
Once all of the participants have completed the activity the facilitator can debrief the room. This usually is done through questioning of the participants to see what they experienced.
The purpose of the debrief is to draw out messages related to communication, most specifically that everyone goes into relationships with different perspectives. When people have different perspectives and starting points, communication can be difficult.
The World of Work Project View
This activity works quite well for the right audiences and can help create a memorable experience relating to communication and perspective.
Some people, however, can find it frustrating. Unfortunately though, it’s often those who most need the lesson who find it most frustrating.
Overall, we think this is a decent activity to be aware of. It requires preparation and is more complex than other activities, so it needs to be used in the right place and at the right time.
Sources and further reading
Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.
This post is based on our experiences delivering and facilitating team building activities in the world of work. There are no specific references for it. If you’re aware of an appropriate attribution for this game, please let us know.
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