Every decision and action of a manager produce different consequences. In this interactive storytelling activity, teams create various versions of stories that track a chain of consequences to a manager’s action.


The participants receive the first sentence of a story that describes a manager’s action. Working in teams, they come up of alternative consequences of this action and write the next paragraph of a story. The teams exchange their story page and continue building up various versions.


To anticipate the consequences of a manager’s action.


Minimum: 2

Maximum: 50

Best: 12 to 20


Minimum: 15 minutes

Maximum: 45 minutes


Story Page. The first paragraph of a story with plenty of blank space.


Prepare the story page. Think of a typical action undertaken by a manager. Write a single sentence describing what the manager did. Label this as the first paragraph of a story.

In preparation for a basic management training course, Kasie brainstormed different management actions. She thought of some dramatic events (The manager embezzeled all the money from the reserve fund, the manager resigned her job so she could marry her colleague, and the manager had a nervous breakdown when asked to downsize half of his subordinates) before settling to this somewhat bland sentence:

The manager announced the departmental goals and plans for the next year.

Organize teams. Assign the participants to 2 to 7 teams, each with 2 to 8 members. (If you have only two participants, you may form them into 2 “teams” of 1 member each.)

Kasie organized her group of seven new managers into 2 team of 2 and 1 team of 3.

Distribute the story page. Give a copy of the story page to each team. Explain that the first paragraph describes what a manager did at the beginning of the story.

Ask the teams to generate consequences. Tell the teams that they are going to prepare the plot for a management soap opera. Ask each team to brainstorm possible consequences of the manager’s action. Ask the team members to select one of these consequences and write it in a single sentence. Label this sentence as the second paragraph of the story.

Brent had three members in this team. They generated different possible consequences of the manager’s announcements. After some discussion, they wrote this second paragraph:

A new employee enthusiastically volunteered to prepare a video to explain the details of the plan.

Exchange the story pages. Ask each team to give its story page (with the two paragraphs) to the next team. Ask the last team to give its story page to the first team.

Add another consequence. Ask the teams to read the two paragraphs on the story page they received. Instruct the team members to think of several possible consequences of the event described in the second paragraph. Ask them to write this consequence in a single sentence as the third paragraph.

Here are the two paragraphs in the story page that Brent’s team received:

1. The manager announced the departmental goals and plans for the next year.

2. Two employees pointed out that the department lacked the resources for achieving the goals.

After few minutes of brainstorming, the team added this third paragraph:

3. The manager argued that the goals can be reached with the currently available resources as long as the employees increased their productivity.

Exchange the story pages. Once again, ask the teams to give the story page, complete with the third paragraph, to the next team.

Write the next consequence. Ask each team to review the three paragraphs of the story as described in the page they received. Invite the team members to imagine possible consequences of the most recent event and select one of these consequences. Have each team write the consequence in a single sentence as the fourth paragraph.

Here's the next version of the story that Brent’s team received:

  1. The manager announced the departmental goals and plans for the next year.

  2. One of the employees complained that they were not involved in the planning process.

  3. The manager asked each employee to prepare and submit a personal set of goals and plans for the next year. He gave a 1-week deadline.

The team members added this sentence as the fourth paragraph:

4. Only one of 17 employees in the department met the deadline.

Continue the activity. Ask the teams to exchange the story pages, review the latest versions of the story, and add one more consequence as the next paragraph. During the later rounds, a team may see one of the paragraphs they had created earlier.

Conclude the activity. After a suitable number of rounds, ask the teams to exchange the latest version of the story page. Tell the teams that you are going to conclude the activity, even though the story could be continued for more rounds.


Present the alternative stories. Ask each team to read the story from the page they received during the final round. Ask the other teams to listen to different versions of the story that began with the same management activity.

Compare the alternative stories. Ask these questions and let each come up with a response and share it with the other teams:

  • What was the most unexpected consequence?

  • What was the most realistic consequence?

  • What was the most negative consequence?

Continue the debriefing discussion with the following types of questions:

  • How difficult was it to generate different consequences?

  • How did your team select one of the many consequences?

  • How much control did the manager have over the consequences?

Relate the story to real-life occurrences. Use these types of questions::

  • Identify an important event currently taking place in the workplace. What previous events caused this event?

  • Think of a current event in the workplace. Generate a set of possible consequences and select the most desirable consequence?

  • What are the advantages of generating a list of potential consequences of a managerial action?