Simbols is an excellent experiential learning activity for improving communication skills within a team. The team must quickly develop a common language, use problem solving techniques and strategic thinking to succeed in this team challenge.
The design of the Simbols activity and the complexity of the information can lead to confusion, ambiguity and uncertainty. To avoid this, precise descriptive language and communication, and careful feedback and checking skills must be applied. However, this happens in a context of time pressure, in which implementation must be ‘right first time’.
Each participant (ideally up to 15 in total) has a number of printed magnetic cards with symbols on them. Each card fits into a specific place on a pre-printed grid. There is only one way in which the pattern can be assembled correctly and only one opportunity, at the end of a planning period, to assemble the grid. The participants cannot show or exchange their cards to each other and are reliant upon high quality verbal communication only, to solve their problem. At the end of the exercise they assemble the grid against the clock.
In the 'Team Simbols' version, 3 x sub-teams solve part of the grid puzzle before coming together and integrating as one team for the final time trial.
Both the single group and 3 x sub-team version options can be played using the materials supplied and full guidance and support is provided in the accompanying facilitator guide. Simbols is widely used around the world as a challenging leadership, communication, project management, strategic thinking and collaborative team development activity - as it focuses on verbal communication, it can be run in any language.
Click on the webinar video image below on the right to view a recording introducing all the elements of the activity, and including hints and tips for facilitators.
We also supply a conference size version called Super Simbols for up to 150 participants.
Simbols is a challenging task with only one answer to the problem, and only one chance to solve it!
Each individual has a number of magnetic tiles with symbols on them. Participants need to describe the pattern of these symbols in order to fit these into the correct place on a grid. Participants can only communicate verbally and cannot show each other their tiles, meaning each individual must contribute to solve the problem. Participants have only one chance to provide the correct answer, therefore process planning and leadership is vital.
Using verbal communication only, participants need to refine and improve their language and communication skills for mutual understanding between team members, mimicking everyday communication when a shared visual reference is not available.
As well as focusing on improving communication, problem solving skills and team performance, the Simbols activity also requires strong leadership, project planning, strategic thinking, performance improvement, and time management skills as participants are given a strict time frame to complete the final project stage.
It is also an excellent exercise to use on an international or cross-cultural awareness programme as it rapidly highlights different cultural references and language styles.
This activity can be used with a group of 6 to 15 people, and these can be arranged as either as a single team, or three sub-teams which then integrate into one large team for the final assembly. The sub-team version challenges collaboration and communication between remote teams, and how they plan to effectively integrate.
Simbols was originally designed as a follow on activity to Colourblind®, and is a great extension for continued development of effective communication skills.
Simbols is also available in a fully online version for remote learning groups. See Simbols (online version)
A2-sized Game grid attached to Gameboard (23.5" x 16.5")
30 x magnetic tiles
Full facilitator guide and laminated activity briefs
Package Weight: 8lbs
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