Plenty of organizations are ready to help you meet your, creativity training, and other intangible goals using "ropes" courses, scavenger hunts, game shows, drumming circles, even playing with clay. Recently, however, I heard about a new teambuilding concept that seems well suited to the high-tech market: Domino Physics. The program mixes science with play and can address issues such as communication, creativity, risk taking, and diplomacy while participants build--and eventually topple--a domino mega-chain.
The program's creator, Peter Bloom, Arlington, Mass. (firstname.lastname@example.org), has taught his domino-aided ideas to children and adults at locations such as Boston's Museum of Science and is now venturing into the corporate market. In his workshops, Bloom instructs participants to build individual chains and then to negotiate with their neighbors about hooking up segments. Builders need to work together to avoid "domino demons," which could make a chain topple accidentally or stop in its track, and to insert "firebreaks," (dominoes laid flat to prevent accidents from spreading), depending on how risk-averse they feel. Bloom supplies ramps, toy cars, electric light circuits, motor circuits, string, and plastic spools to encourage builders to test the limits of the dominoes and their creativity.
One of Bloom's largest groups was a Brandeis University student orientation program. His job was to teach teambuilding concepts to four groups of 75 students. Each group filed into the school's Levin Ballroom, where a trail of approximately 7,000 loose dominoes lay around the perimeter of the room. Breaking into smaller groups at stations along the trail, participants set to work. Even in groups of that size, says Bloom, "Everyone has something interesting that they bring to the experience. Some are good communicators, others fast builders or good problem solvers."
Bloom calls his workshops a kind of "tabletop Outward Bound experience," because of the need to work together to solve problems. And groups, he says, are open to discussing the process after the fact: Who took on which roles? How were ideas tested? How did groups negotiate conflicts? "Building domino chains is a good analogy for pulling together," says Bloom. "[It illustrates] the notion of a complex system and how one part of the system affects the rest of the system."