Form a circle sitting on the floor, with everyone holding hands.
When ready, everyone will stand up, rotate 360 degrees in one direction and then rotate in the reverse direction.
To finish, everyone returns to sit on the floor in the same position they started.
All activity must be performed while everyone is holding hands.
If at any time two or more people let go of their neighbour’s hands, the attempt will not count.
Challenge your group to perform this task as quickly as possible.
Provide ample time for planning, problem-solving & as many attempts as your time allows.
How To Play Narrative
Invite your group to form a circle, sitting on the floor with their butts on the ground. Each person should be close enough to hold onto their neighbours’ hands.
With their hands held and butts on the ground, this is called the ‘starting’ and ‘finishing’ positions. Now, rev your engines.
Explain to the group that on the call of an appropriate sounding signal – such as “GO” – they are to stand up (holding hands at all times,) rotate a full 360 degrees in a circle back to their original positions, then change direction and rotate back to their spots, where they will stop and sit down together.
Your group’s goal is to complete this routine in the fastest possible time, hence their aim to ‘beat the clock initiative.’
Provide your group with at least two attempts to set a nominal world record, and a third attempt if they choose, with several minutes for planning and discussion purposes. Ensure that people start and finish with their butts on the ground, maintain their grip at all times, and are sensitive to whipping their slower colleagues around the circle at ‘break-neck’ speed.
The clock initiative is an awesome, albeit rather physical exercise for illustrating the power of teamwork, and in particular, that a team is only as fast as its slowest member. Or that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Your processing may seek to relate these concepts to real-world situations, especially in terms of valuing people’s diversity. Refer to the Reflection tab for more ideas to get you started.
Practical Leadership Tips
Let me just emphasise, again, the propensity of some groups to move quicker than some members are able, causing these poor folks to be whipped around the circle. This whipping action is difficult to resist, and altogether quite frightening when one is reluctantly swept up in it. So, keep an eye out for these moments, and when it does occur, invite the group to consider how they could solve this ‘problem.’
It may be useful to place two innocuous objects at the 12, 3 6 and 9 o’clock points (of a clock) to help folks identify the points at which they need to change direction. It also offers a clearer indication that this, truly is, the clock initiative.
No, it does not matter which direction the group first turns. The group simply needs to rotate both directions between sitting down.
Perform a check every now and then that people are actually sitting with their butts on the ground. Some folks are very sneaky at positioning their feet under their butts to make it look like their butts are on the ground, but in fact, are not.
Chair Sitting: Start with people sitting in chairs (without arms.) Just beware that chairs often move in the process of people getting in and out of them.
Record Attempt: Challenge your group to beat a specific time (a target) which you set. On average, it takes about one second per person (plus a couple of seconds for safe measure) to complete the required moves, eg a target of 15 seconds is very doable for a group of 12 people.
Take a look at Quick Line-Up and Izzat You? for two less-intensive, group initiatives that challenge people to return to their original positions in a group.
There’s a law of physics which states that a chain is only ever as strong as its weakest link. Metaphorically speaking, this is also true for teams of people working together. Our next exercise will explore this concept in practical terms…
You will be familiar with the concept that the most successful teams are those which value the diversity of strengths and skills within their team. That is, they play to their strengths. And it’s true, that everyone can shine in at least one thing, but rarely at all things all the time. This next exercise will play to the strengths of those more physically able, however, the challenge for the group will be to support those less physically inclined…
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 fun, physically-active problem-solving exercise:
In a general sense, how fast could your group possibly move?
How would you describe your group’s process to solve the task?
What worked and what didn’t? Give examples.
In what ways did you group accommodate the different needs of its members?
Is there anything we learned as a team in this exercise we could apply elsewhere?
The inspiration for The Clock, and many more physically-active, team-building activities, was sourced from the following publication: