Locate access to a wide, solid and non-painted wall.
Divide your group into small teams of 3 to 6 people.
Distribute a small roll of duct tape to each team.
Challenge each team to suspend and/or attach one of their team members to the wall (off the ground) using the duct tape only.
Announce that the person must be suspended for at least 10 seconds to be successful.
No other props are permitted to help the team accomplish this task.
Allow 10 to 15 minutes for planning and execution.
If possible, invite your group to reflect on what happened during the exercise.
How To Play Narrative
We all know that there are very few things that duct tape can’t fix. Well, how about a person to a wall?
First up, you want to scope your venue for a suitable wall. You can immediately rule out any walls that have been painted, or those that are made of plaster. Use these, and there’s a good chance this activity will do more than just damage your reputation.
Rather, look for a wide, solid unpainted cinderblock, concrete or brick wall. Timber can work, but it must be paint-free. And, if the wall is supporting a roof, it’s probably strong enough.
Now, armed with a box of duct tape rolls, break your group into random small teams of say 3 to 6 people. Take a look at Getting into Teams for a few ideas.
Supply each team with a roll of duct tape, and then explain in the simplest of terms that they each have 10 (to 15) minutes to suspend, hang or otherwise attach one of their group members to the wall.
Naturally, no other props can be involved to accomplish this task, just sheer ingenuity and a playful spirit.
Perhaps it’s the thought of playing with duct tape, or maybe it’s more about pinning one of their mates to a wall. But I am yet to see a group that doesn’t get that excited-little-child look in their eyes when they hear this challenge.
To complete the task, a group must be able to suspend one of their own for at least ten seconds, unassisted.
A few words about safety. The feet of the suspended should not be more than 60 cm (2’) off the ground, and the application of tape should be preferably and carefully applied to clothing and not (hairy) skin.
Practical Leadership Tips
There are many adhesive tapes on the market, but duct tape (strong cloth-backed waterproof adhesive) is one of the few designed to withstand the pressures this activity will exert on it. Forget cello-tape and masking tape, they are simply too weak.
This exercise features about as much fun as you can have with a roll of duct tape. But it also offers a wonderful opportunity for small teams to develop their problem-solving and creative skills.
Let me emphasise again the necessity to apply the tape to non-painted surfaces. The adhesive quality of duct-tape is unforgiving.
Keep your teams small. Beyond the ideation process, there is little for too many more than two or three people to do once you have identified who is going to be suspended.
Duct tape can be expensive, so one option is to limit the amount of tape dispensed to each team. Admittedly, this is difficult to do in advance but can be done if you’re careful, ie roll it onto a small piece of wooden dowel, or cut and suspend multiple 1 metre (3′) lengths.
Suspended Objects: Consider any number of other awkward or heavy items to suspend on the wall. Especially if you sense that suspending one of your charges will cause trouble from your administrators!
Stick Around & Under: Using only a limited supply of duct tape, say 5 metres (17’), try hanging an object from the underside of a table, or the top of a door frame.
Playful Stickiness: Take a look at Sticky Beak for a quick and very playful group game.
Creative Stickness: Take a look at Cold Shoulder and the Great Egg Drop to enjoy two more playful group initiatives that are sure to inspire the creative juices of your group.
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Useful Framing Ideas
There’s a common understanding among most handymen and women that there is little that cannot be fixed with a piece of duct tape. It is ubiquitous in its application, used in places to fasten the most stubborn of things. Today, I’d like to inspire a novel application…
Have you seen a magician suspend a person in mid-air? This is such a cool trick, I often wonder how they do it. There can’t be any strings attached because you see them pass a hula-hoop over this person’s body. Yet, I know it’s a trick. Well, today, we’re going to suspend a number of people off the ground, and… I’m going to tell you how to do it…
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 innovative team-building exercise:
How much fun was this? Why?
What was the most difficult part of the task? What was easy?
What process did your group use to make decisions? Were all ideas explored?
Knowing what you know now, would you do anything different next time?
The inspiration for Stick Around, and many more innovative and fun group initiatives, was sourced from the following publication: