F.A.I.L.— Fearless Adventures In Learning: 4 Games to Explore the Value Behind Failure
This session looks at four team-based improv & collaboration games that help teams embrace "failing successfully." Rather than glorify failure, we should understand that its power is not in failing alone, but rather the learning that emerges from it and the power that such learning has to unlock otherwise unforeseen opportunities. Our goal is to relinquish our fears of failure, break us out of our comfort zone and accept the prospect of failure with the ultimate goal of using it to better understand what success looks like, and how the struggle and pain of failure, and the learning that accompanies it, opens our mind to new possibilities we wouldn't have otherwise seen. These games create comfort with failure and build up our actionable learning muscle (insight synthesis, etc) that should accompany every unsuccessful attempt at success. Failure and learning for the win!
Outline/Structure of the Talk
The session flow from prior experience typically follows this format:
===== Introduction =====
Introduce each other and share the intent behind leading the group through these games.
===== 2 Minute Mark: Beasty Rap =====
After brief introductions, we start with a warm-up game "Beasty Rap" which gets our neurons moving in useful ways, exploring both failure and success extremely fast.
Attendees break into two teams of ten volunteers and form lines to face off. A word is given with which the first member of each team must improvise a line of a battle rap with the last word of that line rhyming with the given word. Players move to the end of their team's line after a successful rap, and those who fail are out. New rhymes are given whenever someone fails, and teams continue the game until time is up or everyone is out.
===== 10 Minute Mark: Poster Children =====
Small teams (4-6) will draw a movie name at random, and collaboratively design a movie poster which must be guessed correctly by a non-collaborating member of the team. The first participant draws one symbol (anything without words) on a white sticky note and adds it to the poster. After each symbol is added, team members try to guess the movie name. Subsequent team members add a new sticky note to the movie poster, which can have no more than three symbols/stickies at a time. Once three stickies have been added, the next player must replace one of the existing symbols/stickies with a new one.
Scott will demonstrate with a simple poster for Twilight.
For teams who finish early, they can change up who draws and who guesses and keep playing.
===== 18 Minute Mark: Amazon of Anything =====
Teams of three decide who gets to be one of the three following roles: a salesperson, a buyer and a product. All people volunteering to act as a product will decide on what kind of product they will be, ideally something that they can act out. Products will then whisper to their buyers what product they intend to be. Salespeople in each group will then attempt to sell their buyer the product, pretending they know what it is and describing it to their buyer. Buyer will give reactions and ask questions that might give the seller clues as to what the product might be (since the buyer actually knows), but without mentioning the product by name. The product will act out their role as that product as deemed necessary based on what the seller and buyer are saying.
Tips: product volunteers should choose something that makes a sound or performs an action that they can act out. Bad example: toothpaste. Demonstrate example: vacuum cleaner.
If the buyer correctly guesses the product before time is up, the three can switch roles and start over with a different product.
===== 28 Minute Mark: Yes, But =====
Pairs form. One participant in each pair is asked a question. The other participant responds to their partner's answer by presenting an obstacle that then has to be overcome with a new answer. Pairs continue back and forth, one presenting new obstacles and the other overcoming them, until time runs out. Then they switch. Four minutes per round, total eight minutes.
===== 35 Minute Mark: Debrief =====
Groups will debrief in 5 minutes, with questions like the following.
Where did you struggle? What was challenging?
What helped you become comfortable with failure?
How can you take these games back to work with you?
How might you alter the games we played to work better within your contexts?
The entire room can share their biggest epiphanies with the whole room via post-its on a "shared understanding" wall.
===== 40 Minute Mark: End =====
1 Comfort-Building (Psych Safety) F.A.I.L. Game:
• Beasty Rap - Gets us warmed up and out of our normal mental state.
2 Learning-Oriented F.A.I.L. Games:
• Poster Children (Collaborative MVP Posters)—Discover the best combination of meaningful elements.
• The Amazon of Anything - Learn and iterate based on a short feedback loop with customers.
1 F.A.I.L. Game Oriented to Responding to Change
• Yes, But - Overcome obstacles, and find the positive value in challenging situations.
Prerequisites for Attendees
Willingness to participate, openness to failing in front of others, willingness to take part rather than sit and watch/listen.