How to Choose the Right Activity at the Right Time


Adopting a sequenced approach to your programs requires an ability to assess and read your group at any given time. In the interests of selecting the right activity at the right time, I can think of no better instrument than GRABBSS.

Created by Project Adventure, GRABBSS is a self-assessment tool that you can use to make informed decisions about the ‘right’ experience to deliver in any given moment, and when to make adjustments to your program.


What Does the GRABBSS Acronym Mean?


GRABBSS is a series of questions divided across seven key elements you can observe and evaluate about your group. One element is not necessarily more important than another, yet the acronym starts with one of the most important questions program leaders must ask:

G – Goals

What is the purpose of this activity? How does this experience relate to the goals of the group? Will it make a difference to the group?

R – Readiness

Is the group ready (mentally, emotionally, physically) to undertake the experience? What needs to change before the group has the ability to undertake the next stage of the program?

A – Affect

What is the feeling of the group? What sensations are they experiencing – boredom, excitement, apathy, resistance, etc? How do these feelings impact what they do next?

B – Behaviour

How are the group or individuals acting? Are the interactions among members positive or negative for the group? How cooperative are they? Will their behaviour be appropriate for their next experience?

B – Body

What are the physical abilities of the group? What physical characteristics of the group will impact the program? Are the individuals tired, do they look after their bodies, do any individuals have a disability, are they hot or cold, etc?

S – Stage of Group’s Development

What stage of development is the group experiencing? It is useful to refer to Bruce Tuckman’s popular rhyming schema belonging to his team development model to describe the varying levels:

    • Forming – beginning of a group’s existence, most activity fits within their Comfort zone;
    • Storming – often involves conflict as individuals start to assert their opinions and leadership;
    • Norming – group cohesion is forming, as the group identifies more productive ways to function;
    • Performing – group is functioning effectively and efficiently; and
    • Transforming or Mourning – the point at which the group ceases to exist.

Does the group need additional skills to function at a higher level (stage) of development? Generally speaking, the higher the level of group development, the more challenging your experience can be.

S – Setting

What is the physical setting of the program, and the ‘cultural’ background of the participants? Are you inside or outside, secluded or likely to be disturbed? Is space limited? How long have the people known/worked with each other?


GRABBSS in Practice


In essence, you are constantly asking yourself these types of questions to help you make an informed decision about what is appropriate or ‘right’ for your group as you proceed.

For example, you may be working with a school group for the purpose of developing problem-solving skills. Even though the agenda says that you should do a particular activity straight after the break, if the group has not demonstrated that it has the skills necessary to succeed, ie the group is not ready, then you are well-advised to alter your program sequence. Slot in some extra activities to better prepare your group, or present an alternative exercise in place of the less-appropriate one.

Or, perhaps the group is ready to move onto the next experience but has ‘cooled’ down significantly during your debrief. Then, throw in a quick ‘warm-up’ to move their bodies once again before proceeding.