If seated in an auditorium, ask each person to team up with one or two people who are seated close by.
Invite each group to have a short conversation.
Each group aims to discover a common attribute that, first, involves the numeral ‘one,’ and then ‘two’ and so on within a specified time frame.
Provide a quick illustration, such as we all own ONE car, look after TWO pets, have THREE siblings, etc.
Suggest that the numeric attributes are written down as they are discovered.
Challenge each small group to identify the highest numeric attribute everyone has in common.
When the time has expired, conduct a quick survey to identify which group reached the highest number and invite them to share their list.
Video Transcript for Numeric Networking
presented by Mark Collard
Fantastic. Here’s your next task. In your groups of three or four, you may wish to still use your piece of paper because it’s probably going to be easier to record this.
I’m going to give you a maximum of four minutes to complete this task and your objective is to create as long a list as possible based on this particular parameter. Listen carefully because most people will hear this incorrectly.
Your object is to make a list starting from one, then moves on to two then goes on to three, all the way through the numbers as high as you can go in four minutes, but each time you go through each of the numbers, it’s that number needs to be involved in the commonality of your group.
For example, it might be that let’s say I’m looking at a particular group, all of you have one sibling. Notice that’s the numeric number one. It might be to get to number two that all of you have two numbers involved in your street address, that is your 29 or 35 or something of that nature.
You need to look for something that is common based on the number. So it goes from one, all of you must find the same thing in common for the one, the twos, the threes.
How high can you go? It’s rare to find a group go above eight or nine. See what you can do. Your four minutes starts now. List it down.
(people playing Numeric Networking)
Wrap your time. Alright if you can, because this is an honour system, draw a line under whatever your last topic is, what is the thing that you found in common in your groups.
As I said this is a tough one, to find those things but still matching the numbers as you go through from one, two, three, four, five through. We’ll go in any particular order but let’s say we’ll start from the left. Guys, what do you have? So go through the numbers.
(We’ve all got one sister.)
(We’ve all got two house numbers.)
Two house numbers.
(We’ve all got three letters on our number plates for our cars.)
Three what? Three letters?
Okay, number plates on the cars.
(We all have four doors in our house.)
Four doors in their house, fantastic.
(Is that all? Do you live in a barn?)
(At least four.)
(At least four.)
(We all have five toes on one foot.)
Okay, you all have five toes on one foot.
(We all have at least six pairs of shoes.)
Six pairs of shoes. At least. There’s that at least coming in again.
(We all have six pairs of shoes. We all have seven knives in a knife block.)
(We have eight digits in our date of birth.)
Nice. Being creative.
(We all have “nine” in our birth year. And ten, we all have ten digits in our mobile number.)
Nice. So ten was as high as you got?
(We could’ve got further…)
But I stopped you.
(The “at least” is questionable.)
It goes like this and this is where there’s always a few grey areas. And you think it’s actually about getting the numbers and working your way through to ten. No.
It’s about the conversation, it’s about the energy, but it’s nice when you can actually play and work with the rules and stuff. That’s fine. But let’s work our way around…
How To Play Narrative
It’s always tough to ‘break the ice’ when people are seated in rows, or in a lecture theatre, or round a table, etc, because the group is restricted in their movement. Yet, this is often the reality we face as program providers, so give this a try…
To start, invite individuals to partner up with one or, no more than, two people who are seated close to them. Allow a few moments for friendly pleasantries to be exchanged, and then explain that you would like each group to have a conversation during which they seek out all the ‘things’ they (all) have in common… but with one proviso.
Starting at one, and moving through the numbers as high as they can go within, say, three minutes, each group aims to find that number of things/objects/experiences they have in common.
As this explanation is often met with a few blank faces, follow-up with a quick illustration.
For example, starting at one, your group may discover that you all own ONE car. Then you might discover you all look after TWO pets at home. Moving on, you discuss that you have a total of THREE siblings each, and so on. This explanation is often enough to allow the penny to drop.
When ready, the conversations start and the numeric networking begins. Suggest that a volunteer in each group writes down the numeric attributes as they are discovered.
Once the time you have allocated has expired, conduct a quick survey to identify which group reached the highest number and invite them to share their list.
Practical Leadership Tips
This game was first conceived while sitting in a train on my way to open a conference. I needed a novel opener because I understood that my options for space would be limited as the delegates would be seated in a lecture theatre. Never an ideal situation for sharing. It’s a twist of the wonderfully successful Commonalities.
One of the best parts of an exercise like this is that it honours choice – if a topic raised by the group makes one feel uncomfortable, they may choose to keep silent, or deny they have it in common, and move the conversation on.
On one occasion, a group of three people got as high as EIGHT – apparently, they all had the numeral eight in their street address! Which, maybe, is stretching the framework of the game – but who cares – they were talking and interacting and, best of all, along with 100 other people, were laughing and generating TONS of energy.
Also, be aware of the “…at least…” inclination. That is, we all ‘had at least X…’ to claim a particular numeral. Again, while strictly not playing by the rules (you can outlaw this if you choose,) at least they are talking!
Be sure to prepare three or four applicable examples for your group in advance, the emphasis being on applicable. That is, a numeric illustration that makes sense to a group of older adults may not inspire a group of teens to think of useful examples.
You could integrate Numeric Networking as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of building connections with others.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully seek commonality with others may speak to the benefits of being mindful and adaptable, but these would be considered minor attributes of this ice-breaking game.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Numeric Networking could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Keep It Simple: Take a look at Commonalities which is a simpler version of this type of what-do-we-all-have-in-common game.
Collective Nouse: Challenge your whole group to compile a list of progressive numerals whereby at least one person can truly own one of the numbers, ie it is not necessary for this numeral to apply to everyone.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Describe the challenge and then divide your participants into smaller teams of 2 to 4 people allocated (randomly?) to their own breakout room. After the allotted time has elapsed, return everyone to the large group and share results.
Make it a large group challenge – leverage the collective nouse of your entire group to compile a list of numerals. In this case, invite participants to use the audio/video functions of your meeting to share the numeral they are connected to, or type their answers into the chat room facility. See how far you can go in, say, five minutes.
Simple ice-breaker to connect group members to others.
Highly interactive exercise to create smaller groupings.
Name That List
Novel group initiative to test memory skills.
Useful Framing Ideas
It’s amazing what we can discover about other people, and in particular, what we have in common with them, in just a short conversation. All you need is a topic to start with, and an active listening ear. For example, when the topic of travel comes up, most people have a story to tell. Within a short space of time, you could discover that you have both visited the same country, or are members of the same frequent flyer program or have a pocket full of useless foreign coins sitting in your drawers, etc. This exercise invites you enter this conversational space, but with a twist…
I was once told that the most interesting people are those who are interested in others. Maybe this is true, I don’t know, but this exercise invites you to develop an interest in other people for the purpose of scoring points. The small group of two or three people who score the most points, win…
Interactive ‘Get-To-Know-You’ Session
What You Need:
8+ people, 40 mins, ‘Sit Down If… Questions’ (Print+Play), pen & paper, 2 x long ropes
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this quick ice-breaker game:
How hard was it to find two or more things in common with others?
Where did you get stuck?
What was the most interesting attribute you had in common? Why was it interesting?
What do you think is the purpose of this exercise?
The inspiration for Numeric Networking was first conceived while sitting on a train on my way to open a conference. I needed a novel opener because I understood that my options for space would be limited as the delegates would be seated in a lecture theatre. The keynote speaker loved the energy in the room when they entered.