A Touching Jolt

A jolt is an experiential learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points.

My Swiss colleague Samuel van den Bergh recently facilitated this jolt in a diversity training workshop in Neftenbach, Switzerland. This jolt dramatically demonstrates the power of collaboration.

Form groups. Ask the participants to organize themselves into groups of three. Appoint one person in each group to be the Referee. Give this person a blank sheet of paper.

Explain the role of the Referee. Ask the Referee to place the blank sheet of paper in the middle of the table.

Ask the players to get ready. Ask the two players in each group to hold their right index fingers approximately six inches above the blank sheet of paper.

Give the rule. Make this statement: You win if make the other player’s index finger touch the blank sheet of paper first.

Conduct the game. Say, "Let the game begin!" Ask the Referee to watch the two players and determine who won.

Conclude the game. After about a minute, announce the end of the activity. Identify the winners and congratulate them.

Explain the collaborative strategy. Repeat the rule of the game: You win if you get the other player’s index finger to touch the blank sheet first. Point out that both players could have won if they collaborated to touch the blank sheet at the same time.


Conduct a debriefing discussion with this question:

  1. How many of you won the game? How do you feel about it?

  2. How many of you lost the game? How do you feel about it?

  3. How many of you did not complete the game? How do you feel about it?

  4. How many of you used the strategy of both players touching the paper at the same time? How do you feel about it?

  5. How many of assumed that if you won, the other player had to lose?

  6. How does the game reflect events in your workplace?

Learning Points

1. Activities that involve winning automatically encourage competitive behavior.

2. If we are willing to think collaboratively, it is possible for everyone to win.