“Of course I know what a
TEAM is! Do you?”
This activity facilitates the team-building process by making differences obvious.
At the end of the session, participants will
see how the idea of what makes a “team” varies across cultures;
know that there is no one “right way” of working together;
be in a position to define their principles for working together.
People who are or will be working together in international teams. With truly mixed
multicultural groups, the activity can be used with as few as 4 to 12 people. Generally 12 to
50 or more is workable.
90 to 100 minutes
Flipcharts and board markers at various points (stations) around the room so that each
subgroup has space in which to work and won’t interfere with the work of the neighboring
A large room with open space; tables are not required
Chairs only during debriefing phases
1. Introduce the notion of team in relation to the participants’ presence at the event. Ask
provocatively and rhetorically the question “Are you sure you really have the same
understanding of team as your colleagues?” (3 minutes)
2. Divide the group into monocultural subgroups. Send each to one of the flipcharts placed at
various points around the room. The top page of the flipchart is prepared in advance to
look like this:
What it means
to us
How it works
How it looks
Ask participants to mark their flipcharts with a sign to indicate the cultural group. Tell
them that they can write their ideas or represent them graphically. (20 to 25 minutes)
3. Usually, each group produces more than one flipchart page. Either tape the flipcharts to
the wall at each station or place them on the floor. It is important that all ideas are visible
at the same time. Invite them to walk around the room and view each other’s ideas.
(10 minutes)
4. When they are done, put them in a circle with the sheets on the floor in the center. Begin a
discussion with the question: “What did you notice?” Record their answers on a flipchart.
Points that might come up include: compartmental vs. holistic perspectives of processes,
task vs. relationship orientation, individual vs. group orientation, linear vs. circular
thought processes, word vs. graphical communication, role of the team leader, decision-
making processes, motivators, and positive vs. negative attitudes toward teamwork. Take
up these points as they arise and invite the initiators to comment on the what, how, and
why. (20 to 30 minutes)
5. Put everyone in multicultural subgroups (no more than five per group). At the flipcharts,
they should work on the question: “Our Team,” noting how they want their teams to be
and function. (20 minutes)
Have each team briefly present its results. They can discuss these in detail later, when the
teams develop their operative working principles (2 minutes per group). Make a summary
statement to conclude.

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