Crossed Ropes

Crossed Ropes
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The Crossed Ropes challenge

Crossed ropes is a group activity that promotes interaction, encourages collaboration, and focuses on perspectives. The prep for this group initiative is not difficult, but really important to get right.

Ideally, you want to find or purchase 6 lengths of cord or rope that are all different colours. Think 3mm cord or something similar.

Their lengths can vary but it is best if they are all similar, eg approx 60 to 80cm long.

Your first step is to take five of these rope lengths and form five little rope circles by tying their ends together. A simple overhand knot will suffice.

Then, taking your sixth rope length, thread it through the loop inside each of these five rope circles and then – with all five rope circles hanging from it – tie the ends of this sixth rope together as well, ie effectively locking these 5 rope circles onto the sixth.

If it helps, think of this sixth rope circle a bit like a key ring, with 5 keys (rope circles) hanging off it.

Lay this bunch of rope circles on a flat surface and then purposefully twist and turn some of the ropes so that is looks tangled, ie so that it is not obvious which rope is threaded through all other rope rings.

Not too jumbled that it would be impossible to untangle, just a little confused (if this was possible for rope.)

What you’re hoping to achieve is the presence of a bunch of ropes that are somewhat tangled in and out of each other so that it is not obvious that any two ropes are interlocked.

See also  Listen and Look

Challenge your group to examine this bunch of ropes closely, from all sorts of angles to determine which one rope is threaded through all others. Ultimately, invite your group to make their decision by consensus.

Importantly, people are entitled to point, describe and look closer, but they are never permitted to touch or hold any of the ropes. Allow ample time for your group to discuss and solve the problem.

When ready, ask your group to nominate which one (coloured) rope they believe is the one threaded through all other rope rings. Pick up the nominated rope ring, and shake out the tangles.

If the nominated rope has all other rope circles hanging off it, your group succeeded. Regardless of the result, invite your group to reflect on their decision-making process.

Moment of Reflection
  • What was difficult to communicate to others? Why?
  • What difference did your perspective have on your ability to ‘see?’
  • Describe the process your group used to make decisions?
  • How difficult was it for your group to achieve consensus. Why?
  • Did you see patterns of behaviour here that reflect how your group interacts in the real world?

The topics of this publication: interactionscooperationcollaborationteamworkobservation skillsconsensus

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