Here's an interesting game that produces humorous results. Hidden behind the humor, however, is subtle provocation that forces participants to think deeply to justify some of the basic principles and assumptions related to the training topic.
Participants write “Why?” questions related to the training topic. Then each participant writes a response to someone else's “Why?” questions. The questions and answers get mixed up, producing incongruous results.
To recall principles and assumptions related to leadership.
Maximum: Any number
Best: 10 to 20
7 to 15 minutes
- Index cards (or pieces of paper), one per participant
- Pens or pencils
Write a question. Distribute an index card to each participant and ask her to write a question on one side of the card. The question must begin with the word “Why” and should be related to the training topic.
Recently we conducted the Why game on the topic of Leadership. Here are four questions written by the four players:
Anne: Why are charismatic leaders incapable of producing sustained results?
Bob: Why do most people prefer autocratic command-and-control leaders?
Christy: Why do some leaders get assassinated?
Dave: Why do people make a big issue of differentiating between managers and leaders?
Exchange questions. After a suitable pause, ask each player to pass the question to the player on the left. Also ask each player to read the question given to her and think of a suitable answer that begins with the word “Because”. Warn the players not to say or write the answer.
In our sample game, Bob got Anne's question, Christy got Bob's question, Dave got Christy's question, and Anne got Dave's question. They read and reflected on the question and mentally worked out an answer.
Write the answer on the back of another question card. After a suitable pause, ask each player to turn over the question card so the written side is facing down. Ask players to pass the question card (with its blank side up) to the person on the left. Warn participants not to turn over the card they receive to see the new question. Instead, ask them to write the answer (that they thought of during the previous round) on the blank side of the card.
Read and laugh. Ask participants to pass the card to the person on the left. Each participant now has a card that contains a question on one side and an answer on the other. The question and the answer are related to each other—and that is what makes them amusing. Ask participants to read the question and the answer and laugh at the incongruous combination. Invite participants to share the most humorous combinations to the other seated nearby.
Christy's question-and-answer combination was rated as the most humorous combination:
Question: Why do some leaders get assassinated?
Answer: Because they are great at motivating and inspiring people, but not good at paying attention to details and implementing their ideas.
If you are curious about how the other questions and answers turned out, here they are:
Anne's question: Why are charismatic leaders incapable of producing sustained results?
Answer: Because when leaders gather a lot of followers, they also collect a lot of enemies. In the process, some leaders polarize people. Sometimes their enemies become so jealous and enraged that they murder popular leaders.
Bob's question: Why do most people prefer autocratic command-and-control leaders?
Answer: Because they think that it is cool to be a leader and boring to be a manager.
Dave's question: Why do people make a big issue of differentiating between managers and leaders?
Answer: Because most people are too lazy to think for themselves and to make decisions. They prefer to have someone to tell them what to do, what to think, and what to believe.
For extra credit, see if you can match each question with its answer.