Workers and Watchers

In my opinion, Roger Greenaway is the greatest genius in the area of debriefing (or reviewing as he calls it). Roger has had a significant impact on the work I do. You can learn more about Roger and more about debriefing techniques by visiting his website,

Here's a jolt that is based on one of Roger's powerful activities.


Blindfold half of the participants and ask them to lay a rope on the floor in the form of a circle. Conduct a quick debriefing involving the blindfolded workers and the watchers. Blindfold the other half and give them the task of laying the rope on the floor in the form of a triangle. Continue with the debriefing discussion.


To discover the power of debriefing.


Four or more. Best group size is 10 to 30.


3 minutes for the activity. 3 to 10 minutes for debriefing.


  • Blindfolds (sleep masks or bandanas), one for each participant
  • 10-foot-long piece of rope
  • Countdown timer
  • Whistle

Room Setup

Create an open area where participants can stand in a circle and move around freely.


You don't want the blindfolded participants to bump into objects or trip and fall down. Remove all obstacles from the open area. Encourage the watchers to intervene if any of the blindfolded workers places herself in a hazardous situation.

Some people do not like to be blindfolded. Give your participants the choice to opt out of being a blindfolded worker and remain as a watcher during both rounds.


Brief the participants. Explain that you are going to blindfold half of the participants and ask them to work on a simple task while the others watch them. Later, you will change the roles and ask the newly blindfolded workers to complete a similar task.

Explain the task. Show the length of the rope and tell the participant that all blindfolded workers should hold the rope and lay it on the floor in the form of a perfect circle.

Begin the first round. Distribute blindfolds to half of the participants and ask them to blindfold themselves. Suggest that these workers keep their eyes closed inside the blindfold. Invite the watchers to position themselves around the open area. Place the rope in the hands of two or three blindfolded workers and ask them to begin the task.

Conclude the first round. Set the timer for 1 minute and start it. At the end of the minute, blow the whistle and ask participants to stop the activity and remove their blindfolds. (It does not matter if the task is not completed.)

Debrief the first round. Ask the workers and the watchers to ask and answer questions about what happened and what they learned. Because the workers will be extremely curious about what the watchers saw, you will have an enthusiastic and spontaneous discussion. Toss in a few questions (How does this activity reflect events in your workplace? If you were to do this activity once more, how would you change your behavior?) from time to time.

Begin the second round. Distribute blindfolds to the participants who were the watchers during the previous round. Have them blindfold themselves while the new watchers position themselves around the open area. Place the rope in the hands of a few blindfolded people as before. Ask them to lay the rope on the floor in the shape of a triangle.

Conclude the second round. Stop the activity at the end of a minute (even if the task is not completed).


Debrief the second round. Let the workers and observers ask and answer questions. Throw in some questions to encourage participants to compare and contrast what happened during the two different rounds.

Ask participants to explore the advantages of debriefing. Encourage them to discover the value added by a debriefing discussion.

Debrief the debriefing process. Ask participants to brainstorm a list of guidelines for improving the effectiveness of debriefing discussions.

Introduce the core questions. Explain that these questions produce effective results during debriefing discussions:

  1. How do you feel about the activity?
  2. What happened during the activity?
  3. What did you learn from the activity?
  4. How does the activity reflect events in your workplace?
  5. What would happen if we changed some of the elements of the activity?
  6. What would you do in the future as a result of the insights from this activity?

With the help of participants, apply these core questions to the Workers and Watchers jolt.

Learning Points

  • During an activity, no one ever sees the complete picture.
  • Taking time to reflect on an activity helps us learn from the experience.
  • Different people get different insights when they reflect on the same activity.


You don't have rope? Ask the blindfolded workers to perform some other task (such as preparing a poster or making a paper chain).

You don't have blindfolds? Ask the workers to close their eyes. Alternatively, let them jointly perform a task with their eyes open.

Some participants cheat by peeking? Let this become a topic of discussion during debriefing.