Crossing the Rio Bravo in class

Written on July 23, 2012 by uwe.spangler@ie.edu in General

A fun exercise on communication for project management

Have you ever thought of crossing a (virtual) river in the middle of a classroom? – That was one of the Masters in Management student’s challenges in their Project Management class.
This entertaining game is made up of two rival teams whose objective is to cross the river by foot. The “river” is basically a checkered table cloth. Each square represents a stone to cross the river or represents water where the teams will sink. The instructor of the class knows the right path that students have to discover to cross successfully and he/she will blow a whistle when they fall into the water; when this happens students have to start over again. Players are not allowed to communicate verbally once the game begins; but have the chance to set a non-verbal communication strategy before beginning.These rules mean students have to collaborate in a completely new manner.

All team members have to participate in the process and the first team to cross the river wins.
Project Management Professors Antonio Zabaleta, Sharada Ravindran and Fabrizio Tesolato think that this exercise helps students to understand in a dynamic way different communication techniques and it allows them to observe other important techniques for project management in general, such as for example; being aware that a plan can change, or that, to continue moving forward sometimes you have to go back to benchmark and observe the competitor´s strategy and what they have learned.
After the fun period trying to cross the river, students move to the classroom to discuss the conclusions.

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