Exercise – Broken Square
Dimensions of Team Work
Objectives: 1. To experience how certain behaviours either facilitate
or obstruct realization of group task.
2. To encourage a group to analyse behaviors related to
effective group working.
Group Size: Any size
All participants are divided into groups of six persons. Out of
these six persons, five will work on the task and one to act as
Time: One hour.
Material: Broken pieces of equal squares cut into the shapes as shown
A F D
E B ?3”? C C F A 6”
? 3” ? ?3”? ?3”? ?3”? ?3”?
? 2” ?
? 2” ?
? 3” ? ?3”? ? 3” ? ? 3” ?
Note: The figures presented above do not seem squares of equal size but they all must be squares of equal size with each side of 6 inches.
2” = Two Inches
3” = Three Inches
6” = Six Inches
The broken pieces should be kept in FIVE envelopes marked
1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as under:
1 I, H, E
2 A, A, A, C
3 A, J
4 D, F
5 G, B, F, C
This material of 5 envelopes forms one set for the use of one
group. Trainer should keep requisite number of sets ready so
that more than one group of participants can participate.
Physical Settings: 5 members of each group should be asked to sit around a table
or they may sit on the floor. Take care to see that members of
the group do not sit too close to each other. Keep sufficient
space in the centre. Let different groups sit at a distance from
Process: A. The trainer gives one set of five envelopes to each
group. Each one picks up one envelope. They are told
not to open it until asked to do so.
B. He then instructs the groups as under:
1. Pieces in these 5 envelopes together can form 5
complete squares of equal size.
2. Each group has the task of completing five squares
of equal size and each person should have one
square completed in front of him.
3. He/She thereafter announces the ground rules.
i. You will not speak.
ii. You will not ask of others for piece or pieces
which you feel will complete your square nor
snatch a piece from your colleague nor make a
gesture showing your need for a piece.
iii. You will, however, be permitted to give a piece to
any member in the group you wish.
iv. No one will throw the pieces in the centre of the
v. One person should not get all pieces.
YOU WILL COMPLEE THE TASK IN 5 MINUTES.
C. The members are asked to open the envelopes and
begin. The game has started. The observers are asked
to ensure strict adherence to the ground rules. At the
end of the period of 5 minutes the trainer will stop the
Leads for Discussion: The trainer encourages the members from each group to
describe how their groups have worked and what were their
The questions given below would help him/her in leading
discussion. After this s/he may ask the observers to give their
1. How did the group members go about the assignment:
a. Who had at one stage the maximum number of
broken pieces but did not bother to part with any
of the pieces.
What were the reactions of the members towards
this attitude of the member?
b. Who had none or the minimum number of pieces
at one stage? How was he/she feeling?
c. How many were able to complete the square and
how did they react when others were groping
d. Did any member, after having completed the
square seeing someone else in need for a piece or
pieces, venture to dismantle his own square and
pass on the pieces to other person? If so, what
motivated him to do so?
e. Did any one, after having completed his square
merely sit pretty, watching others, without
showing the least concern for the group
2. What were the feelings of those who could not complete
their squares when the game was called for?
Concepts to be developed: Structure of the game is such that, it is possible to make 2, 3,
4 squares with different combinations of pieces, but 5 squares can be made only with the
combination as shown above.
- Hence it is possible in the game that with the pieces a member gets, he may
make a square. When once he makes a square, he gets emotionally attached to
it and would not be willing to dismantle it. When this happens, he would be
blocking the goal of the group in making 5 squares.
- The rules of the game, when viewed in total, permit a free exchange of pieces
(resources of the group) among the members. This is strength. If this positive
factor is made use of well, this will enable the group in achieving the task
early. Instead, if we highlight the constraints about not being able to talk, it
may hinder the group task.
- In giving and receiving help – do we give help as per the need of the other
man and at the time when he requires. This aspect may be highlighted linking
it to the way in which the pieces were exchanged among members during the
- The question that each member should ask himself
o What is my need? What is his need/problem? What could be my
contribution? What could be his contribution?
- Quite often, people are shy to express their need for help
? People may not know whether you can help
? People may not know whether you are willing to help
But we can often guess their needs when we see their body message.
Some tips to the trainer:
In order to conduct this game effectively and develop the concepts forcefully, the trainer
needs to observe the behaviour of the participants very keenly when the game is on.
From their observations, the concepts will have to be developed. Unlike some other
games, you don’t get figures to display and interpret. You have to wholly depend on
observable behaviour. This requires the trainer to be very sensitive.
With your observations help the participants to come out with their feelings/concerns.
Take care not to get locked up with a particular participant in your anxiety to push
through an idea/concept.
When you feel that a participant is resisting to express his feelings, go to some other
participant/s and carry on with your discussion. After some time, you may come back to
the earlier one, perhaps by now, he is relaxed.
Whenever possible and as much as possible, allow/enable participants to interact with
each other, you acting as a facilitator. This would make them more free.