Not A Knot

Not A Knot

The Visual Exercise is Not A Knot

Not A Knot is a fantastic visual exercise and puzzle for people to make isolated decisions or come to a consensus.

In advance, place a piece of string out of sight of your group, as illustrated in the diagram, on the floor or table. To be sure you have it correct, it should be possible for you to pull on the two ends of the rope slowly, to result in a straight, untangled line, ie not a knot.


When ready, invite your group to gather around the rope. Ask them to study the rope and the way it is laying carefully for one minute, but they should not touch it.

Announce that, in a few moments, you intend to pull the two ends of the rope, slowly to reveal a knot, or not. Challenge your group to achieve consensus on whether the rope will end up in a knot, or in a straight, untangled line.

Most groups will quickly form two groups – those who believe it will form a knot, and others who do not.

Initially, when faced with this result, and in an effort to achieve consensus, ask each person to ‘cross the floor’ and speak with someone from the other side to understand their viewpoint. Suggest that if the argument seems valid, then each person is entitled to change their mind and swap sides.

Continue to encourage your group to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve consensus. No need to push it, unless exploring the process of seeking a consensus is your sole objective.

See also  Card Negotiation

When ready, and if there is no consensus, ask your group to stand to the left if they believe a knot will form, or to the right if they believe the rope will untangle itself. Upon pulling the rope and discovering that there is no knot, invite your group to reflect on their process to make a decision.

Moment of Reflection
  • Did you change your decision? How hard was it to change your mind? How did it feel?
  • What steps did your group take to achieve ‘consensus?’
  • How did each person feel once the rope had been pulled?
  • What types of leadership were displayed during the exercise? How effective were these styles?
  • What is necessary for a group to achieve consensus on any issue?

The topics of this publication: teamwork, leadership, cooperation, interactions, negotiation, argumentation, make agreements, observation skills, consensus

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

2 thoughts on “Not A Knot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *