Change Management

The “change” in the name of this game refers not to social, organizational, or personal change, but to the coins jingling in your pocket or handbag. The key idea in this game is that the person who uses the most coins to add up exactly to $3.17 receives a $50 bill.


To explore the value of individual contributions to a team.

Learning Points

Concepts: Inter-team competition, individual contributions, team member resources.
Procedures: Negotiation, coalition formation, collaborative planning, teamwork, tight deadlines, profit sharing.
Contrasts: Cooperation vs. competition, individuals vs. teams, costs and values.


15 minutes for the activity and 15 minutes for debriefing.


Minimum: 10
Maximum: 100
Best: 15-30


  • $50 bill
  • Timer
  • Whistle
  • Calculators


  • Ru;es and Regulations


Select the Regulators. Ask the participants who do not have any change with them to stand up. Depending on the total number of participants, select two to five of these people to help you conduct the game. Explain that they are the Regulators who will enforce the rules of game. Give copies of the handouts to the Regulators.

Announce a chance to make a big profit. Hold up a $50 bill and reveal that you are going to sell it for a mere $3.17.

Explain the restrictions. Ask the Regulators to distribute copies of the two handouts to each participant. Using your own words, explain these rules:

  • You must pay $3.17 in exact change, using U.S. coins.
  • No one may leave the room to find change.
  • The individual (or the team) that uses the largest number of U.S. coins to pay exactly $3.17 receives the $50.
  • To participate in this activity, you must first submit a completed Purchase Offer Form.
  • You must submit the completed Purchase Offer Form within 5 minutes after the start of the game.
  • At the end of 5 minutes, the individual or the team that offers the most U.S. coins to add up to $3.17 will receive the $50 bill.
  • If more than one offer has the same number of coins, then whoever makes the earliest offer receives the $50.

Explain the paperwork requirements. Walk the participants through the Purchase Offer Form, emphasizing that all incomplete and incorrect forms will be rejected. Explain that the total number of coins should correctly add up to $3.17. The form should also include all the names of the team members.

Start the game. Blow a whistle and announce the beginning of the game. Set up the countdown timer for 5 minutes and start it. Tell the participants that they have 5 minutes to complete and submit their Purchase Offer Forms to the Regulators.

Explain additional details. Use your own words to describe these details:

  • The Regulators will place a number on the top right-hand corner of each form to indicate the order in which they are received.
  • The individual (or team) that submitted the earliest offer with the most coins that add up exactly to $3.17 will receive the $50.
  • The individual (or the team) may submit a revised Purchase Offer Form if they are able to acquire more coins to add up to $3.17. In this case, the earlier form will be cancelled.

Monitor the activity. Make sure that the Regulators number each form according to the order of submission. Ask the Regulators to check the forms to ensure that the coins offered add up to exactly $3.17.

Give a 30-second warning. Blow the whistle when only 30 seconds remain. Ask the teams to submit their offers before the time expires.

Identify the winner. After 5 minutes, blow the whistle and stop accepting Purchase Offer Forms. Ask the Regulators to identify the offer with the most coins. In case of a tie, ask them to select the earliest submission.

Conclude the activity. Collect the coins from the winning team. Verify the number of coins and their total value. Congratulate the team and give its representative the $50 bill. Suggest that the team members wait until the end of the debriefing discussion before splitting their well-deserved profit.

Conduct the debriefing discussion. To make sure that the participants not only enjoy the game but also gain useful insights from it, conduct a debriefing session. Here are some sample debriefing questions that use our six-phase model:

How do you feel?

  • How do you feel about the game and its outcomes?
  • How do you feel about the winning team?
  • If you are a member of the winning team, how do you feel about your teammates?
  • If you are not a member of the winning team, how do you feel about your teammates?
  • If you did not have any change with you, how do you feel about the way the other participants treated you?

What happened?

  • How were the teams formed?
  • Did the other participants invite you to join their team?
  • Did the other participants ignore you?
  • Were you recruited by more than one team?
  • How did you decide which team to join?
  • How did your team work out its strategy?

What did you learn?

  • What was the most important learning point for you?
  • What insights did you get about cooperation and competition among the participants?
  • What did you learn about forming teams?
  • What did you learn about making decisions under tight deadlines?
  • What is the relationship between the size of a team and its efficiency?

How does this relate?

  • If this game were a metaphor for something, what would that be?
  • Some participants had no change. How were they included in this activity? How does this reflect your workplace behaviors?
  • An important point in this game is that a person with nine pennies has more to contribute that a person with nine $10 bills. What are some workplace situations in which objects with low monetary value become extremely valuable?

What if?

  • What if only individuals (not teams) could make purchase offers?
  • What if some participants tried to sell coins to others?
  • What if a participant had a roll of 50 pennies?
  • What would happen if you sold $500 for $3.17?

What next?

  • What advice would you give to a participant who is about to play this game for the first time?
  • Considering what you learned from this cash game, how would you behave differently if you are to play the game again?
  • How would you apply the insights from this game in your workplace?


Too many people without change? Randomly distribute some small change among participants before the start of the game.

Participants are planning to form one big cooperative team? Impose a maximum limit of five members in each team.


Rules and Regulations

  1. You purchase the $50 bill for $3.17.
  2. Only one $50 bill is available for sale at this special discounted rate.
  3. You must give the exact change in U.S. coins for the purchase.
  4. No one can leave the room to find change.
  5. The individual or team that uses the most U.S. coins to pay exactly $3.17 will receive the $50.
  6. If more than one team offers the same number of coins, the first team to do so will receive the $50 bill.
  7. To try to purchase the $50 bill, you must first submit a Purchase Offer Form with all the required details.
  8. All incomplete or incorrect forms will be rejected.
  9. If you recruit additional team members or if you plan to use more coins, you must submit a revised Purchase Offer Form.
  10. If your purchase offer wins, you must immediately pay the proposed number of coins that add up to $3.17. Upon verification of the number and total value of the coins, you will receive the $50 bill.