The Untie the Knot Exercise
Untie the Knot is a variation on the classic Human Knot problem-solving exercise and promotes collaboration, organization, and communication.
In advance, you need to tie the ends of a long rope (approx 10+ metres or 30′) together to form a large rope circle. Then, lay this bundle of rope on the ground in such a way that it appears as if several rope coils are sitting atop one another.
Gather your group around the rope, and ask them to step forward and grasp one section of rope with both hands. This exercise works best if you encourage your group to grab a piece of the rope that lays furthest away from them, ie the arms of most people will cross one another.
Clasping the rope, and not letting go, ask your group to stand up. As people stand, the rope should appear heavily criss-crossed between their hands.
Explain that your group’s challenge is to work together to untangle the string so that it forms one large circle. The goal must be achieved by following these rules:
- No one may let go of the rope at any time
- Each person is entitled to slide their hand up or down the rope (but never let go)
Individuals will necessarily have to follow the rope wherever it goes, which includes stepping over or under other people and through rope ‘holes.’ The task is complete once the rope is untangled and everyone is facing inside the circle.
Moment of Reflection
- What helped the group to be successful in this activity?
- What was your group’s greatest challenge? How did you overcome those challenges?
- Did some people get frustrated? With what? How did the group manage this?
- Did every person have an equal and valued role in the exercise? What was the impact?
- Can you describe the group’s decision-making process?
- How did the group generate ideas? How did the group manage these ideas?
- What do you think your group needs to work on the most now?