I love playing games, and I think games, fun and laughter should be part of workshops, trainings and seminars. When I talked about enhancing cultural awareness at the HR management congress in Berlin, I asked the audience to play a game. Of course we didn’t have a lot of time during the 30-minute-slot and it was rather chaotic, but I could hear lots of laughter and had some good feedback afterwards, so it was definitely worth doing it.
Games are not culturally neutral. So, when you think about introducing a game to your team or group, think about the participants and the setting, think about where people come from and about their level of language skills. If people struggle with the common language of the seminar, it does not make sense to let them play a competitive linguistic game.
It’s equally important to think about when you play games. There are games suitable for all kinds of group situations, but not every game fits every group and every phase the group is in. A game where people have to trust each other won’t be enjoyable when played in the first hours of having met the others.
And you should also be aware of potential conflict when managers and team members are in the same group and they come from a culture where the role of the manager is highly regarded and people might fear to „lose face“ if they do something „wrong“.
That being said, today I would like to introduce a game that takes just a bit of preparation and can be adjusted easily to all kinds of groups and situations because you can make up the rules as you like.
The game is based upon the idea that in many cultures, dumplings in all forms and shapes are part of the local cuisine. The name of the game is IDL: International Dumpling Logistics.
What you need:
- play dough
- knives and forks
- several tables
Let people form small groups and decide beforehand, how big you want the dumplings to be. If you want to play the game in a competitive way, you need to make sure everyone has the same chance to win.
Each group gets a plate and play dough.
First, dumplings are formed using your hands. Often participants are willing to share their dumpling stories, ways of rolling them or their favourite recipe. But it’s not really necessary to talk – if you have a group with lots of different languages and different skill levels, you can still play the game and have lots of fun.
Now you have a few dumplings. The task is to move them to the next plate (on another table somewhere in the room – you can adjust the settings as you see fit).
Of course it would be easy to just take the dumplings in your hand and walk away. But we want to include different tools from different cultures, so we’re using chopsticks to move our dumplings.
Once we have done this, we’ll use a fork to move the dumpling to the next and final plate, where we have a knive waiting to move the dumpling from the fork onto the plate.
There’s no „this is how the game must be played“-rule. You can decide how you want to play – maybe the group wants to make up the rules, maybe they want to change the rules after one or two rounds.
The game can be played fast or slow, highly competitive (use a timer!) or less competitive. It’s totally up to you.
One small piece of advice: it’s worth trying out games in a workshop. Choose games that you like and that mean something to you. If you feel you can’t „connect“ to the game, it can be difficult for the group, too.
I found the idea for the game in a book by Wilma Osuji. The English title of the game is my own creation.
Have fun with IDL, and if you want to let me know how your dumplings turned out, drop me a line. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.