Assemble your group into teams of approx 10 to 15 people, standing in a circle.
One person starts by announcing that they like to do a particular set of actions, while actually performing a different set of actions, eg say “I LIKE TO JUMP UP & DOWN” but instead flaps their arms in circles.
After several seconds have elapsed, the next person will perform the action announced by the first person, while saying that they like to do a different action, eg “I LIKE TO RIDE HORSES.”
This process of performing the action of what the person before them announced continues around the circle one by one.
Challenge your group to repeat this process, working around the circle as quickly and as accurately as possible without making a mistake.
When someone makes a mistake, you may choose to eliminate that person until one person (the winner) remains, or simply start over.
How To Play Narrative
Here’s another classic ‘follow me’ exercise that I invariably mess up. I guess that’s why it’s so much fun.
To begin, you have at least two options. You could assemble your large group into one big circle, or separate your group into smaller teams of, say, 10 to 15 people. I prefer the latter because the former tends to lack intimacy, but either way – demonstrate what needs to happen before splitting into smaller groups.
Start by inviting a couple of volunteers to join you in a straight line facing your group. Then, announce “I LIKE TO JUMP UP AND DOWN,” but, you are, in fact doing something quite different, perhaps waving your arms in big circles beside your body.
In other words, you are actually DO-ing something completely different to what you are SAY-ing you like to do.
After several seconds have elapsed, invite the person standing next to you to actually do what you said you like doing, but announce that they like something else.
For example, this second person will jump up and down (to do what I said,) but will say that they like something else, such as “I LIKE TO RIDE HORSES.” The next person in line makes like riding a horse, and so on…
In essence, each person DOES what they heard the person before them say, while saying that they like to do something completely different. It helps to remind each person to begin by saying “I LIKE TO…..” while physically doing something else.
The aim of the game is to challenge your group to repeat this process working their way all around the circle without making a mistake.
Accuracy is the key, but for your high performance groups, I suggest that pace and choosing unique actions are also key success factors. So, if someone should pause to think too long, or repeat an action someone has already performed, the game stops. Ohhhh, the squeals of laughter…
You could choose to eliminate those who make a mistake until you are left with an eventual ‘winner,’ or simply start over every time someone makes a mistake.
Practical Leadership Tips
Whether a high performance group or not, encourage your group to work their way around the circle as fast and as accurately as possible. Listen carefully to ensure that all actions are unique, and have not been announced or performed earlier in the game.
Expect lots of mistakes, that’s what makes this game so much fun. I have never seen a group of more than ten people go all the way around a circle (at a fair pace) and not make a mistake. Indeed, I’m sure if this ever happened, it would not be half as much fun.
Given that there will be a lot of mistakes, consider your sequence to ensure that your group is mentally and emotionally equipped to see a lot of programmed ‘failure.’ If you suspect that your group will more likely laugh at the person who makes a mistake, rather than with, I would strongly recommend not presenting this exercise.
If it helps you, the name of the game ‘Do As I Say ‘directs your focus to be as successful as possible – on what people say, and not what they are doing.
Group Do As I Say: Everyone in the group performs the actions, not just the person to the left of the doer, eg if I say “I LIKE TO BLINK MY EYES” this will cause the whole group to start blinking their eyes. After several seconds have passed, the person to my left takes their turn.
Recall Challenge: As an added getting-to-know-you bonus, make it a group goal to remember what each person liked to do.
Anatomy Shuffle: Each person points to a particular part of their body but in doing so names it as another part of their body. For example, I may say “THIS IS MY NOSE” but I actually point at my elbow. The next person will then point at their nose (because this is what I said) but say “THIS IS MY ELBOW” and then follow with “THIS IS MY KNEE” but actually point to anything but their knee. Basically, each person copies the opposite of what the person before them said and did. Get it? Yeah, I know, it does my head in too.