Seven people stand in one line, side-by-side, facing the rest of the group.
Observe these seven people for ten seconds.
Instruct the ‘looking’ group to close their eyes.
Ask the seven people to shuffle their positions.
Upon re-opening their eyes, challenge the ‘looking’ group to re-shuffle the seven people back to their original positions.
Swap roles, and repeat several times.
Video Transcript for Quick Shuffle
presented by Mark Collard
Now can I ask maybe one of you to join this group to make a group of seven. It won’t matter who it is. Great. Fantastic. And could you guys form a line for me, and perhaps for your…
Alright, take a moment to understand where they are. You may now turn around. Okay, you know what to do now folks. Please change your positions, so you are now in a completely different place.
Their object in a moment is to put you back into the same order you were standing just a moment ago.
Okay. Now still remember where you were before. Okay. Thanks, folks. You can now turn around. In as few moves as possible, your objective now is to put these seven people back in the same order.
(Can we approach the subjects?)
You may if you think that’s going to assist you.
(people discussing how to solve Quick Shuffle)
Okay, so we’ve made two moves. You think you’re pretty close. You don’t believe there’s anything more that needs to be done?
(people discussing how to solve Quick Shuffle)
You’ve still got more rounds to come, there’s still more stuff to come. So… but it doesn’t have to involve you two.
I know this is not the correct order, so will you now move into the places where is the correct order. Two moves, very good.
So you had an inkling she was in the middle and you had an inkling here. Those two inklings…
We’re going to talk later on about a thing called ‘affect,’ that’s that gut talking to you, that’s exactly what you were listening to but were finding it difficult to follow.
So that was two moves. So only two moves but you made two moves. So you would’ve only got as good as four perhaps at best.
Okay, we now know what the exercise is. We’re going to change it up. We’re going to invite these two now to be part of your group, two new people, but we are going to change it just slightly.
So are there two people who would like to become the group that turns away…
Amy and Teck Kwan, come on. Okay, you know what the….
How To Play Narrative
Be careful not to reveal too much in this briefing, lest you give your group a clue as to what’s about to happen. It’s not critical, because you can always up the challenge, but it’s good to preserve the adventure for as long as possible.
Ask seven people from your group to stand in one line, side-by-side, in front of the rest of your group, and then ask the latter to simply observe the former for about ten or so seconds.
Now, instruct those who are doing the looking, to close their eyes for 15 seconds, during which time the chosen seven will totally shuffle their positions.
No one leaves the line, each person simply moves to a new spot within it. A quick shuffle.
As you will have guessed, the blinded group now open their eyes and is charged with the responsibility of re-shuffling the group back to their original configuration.
It is quite likely that not even the seven shuffled people will recall their original positions correctly – because they didn’t see what was coming either, and that’s OK.
The guts of this activity is about the looking group working together co-operatively to solve the problem. Like most initiatives, it’s not always about getting the right answer. To this end, and to prevent a ‘hero’ or ‘heroine’ from doing all of the shuffling, be sure to frame this simple exercise as a ‘group’ problem.
Suggest that every ‘looking’ person takes a turn in making one shuffle at a time. The chosen seven should remain silent at all times during the shuffling process, and try hard not to give anything away.
Of course, after the first round, everyone is attuned to memorising the formation of the line when the activity is repeated, but there’s still plenty of room for disagreement.
Reconstitute the group, and repeat, or try a variation below (see Variations tab.)
Practical Leadership Tips
It’s a good idea, before you ask the shuffling group to move, to ask them to commit to memory where their original positions are in the line, ie 3rd from the left, or in between Jane and barry, etc.
Naturally, applaud the idea of using pen and paper, but disallow it!
Expect that, on occasions, one person may disagree with their colleague before them, and reverse the move that they just made.
Also, expect the strategy in later rounds where certain clothing, eye-wear, and other accessories are swapped in an effort to confuse the ‘looking’ crew. It’s up to you whether you choose to allow this or not. Generally, this strategy is more funny than it is confusing. But, if there is potential for harm or unfair advantage, disallow it.
You could integrate Quick Shuffle as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote 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:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
The challenge of this fun group initiative will invite your group to interact and engage with each other in a manner that would necessarily speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could focus on any less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see and commit to in the future.
For example, in addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to explore a variety of full value behaviours such as:
How did the group demonstrate its ability to care for self and others?
Generally speaking, how did the group make decisions? How were all members involved?
What types of leadership were demonstrated during the exercise? Were they effective?
Multiple Groups: For large groups, create several sets of seven, with matching groups of two or three people to do the looking and re-shuffling.
Bigger Lines: Experiment with larger look-at-me lines, of say nine or more people.
Optimal Challenge: Moving only one person at a time, record how many moves it takes for the looking group to correctly re-shuffle the line.
Silent Challenge: Ramping up the above variation, complete the task silently.
Shuffle More: Take a look at Memory Card Game and Alter Shake for two more challenging initiatives which feature the development of memory-based skills.
In advance, produce a unique padlet in which users can simultaneously manipulate the placement (on screen) of the requisite 7 people/objects. When ready, form small groups of 2 to 4 people (you don’t need large groups for this virtual adaptation.) If you have multiple groups, you will need to allocate a unique URL for each team to work on, ie this is really easy to do with padlets.
Between rounds, when you need to re-shuffle the people/objects, ask the observers to close the tab on their browser that is viewing the padlet, ie this is an honour system. Or, if you can’t trust your group to not look, produce multiple line-ups and share the unique URL for each padlet when your group is ready.
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Useful Framing Ideas
In the first instance, I would suggest no particular framing for this exercise (lest you give too much away for the first crucial round), other than preparing a well-thought sequence of lead-in activities.
As a child, do you remember the game where a tray of objects was placed in front of you for a length of time, and then it was taken away, and you were asked to recall all of the items? I loved that game (I hope you did too,) and it forms the backbone of this next exercise, but with a twist…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this passive, group initiative:
What did you notice about your looking group’s process in the beginning?
Did you encounter disagreements? Did you reach a resolution? How?
What strategies did your looking group use to re-shuffle more successfully in later rounds?
What elements of continuous improvement mattered the most in this exercise?
What have you discovered about your memory/observation skills in this exercise?
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