The Group Harmonics Store

Guulag Tower

Collaboration requires each of us to strike a balance.  On the one hand, we bring individual expertise to the table, and we must stand by what we know to be true – we can’t allow any solutions that will violate the constraints we understand.  On the other hand, if we don’t simultaneously engage fully in learning from others what is possible from their perspectives, we’ll have become too rigid, and a shared solution won’t be achievable.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a group of engineers designing hardware or software, on a sales team planning its approach to a large prospect, with a group of peer medical professionals discussing a shared patient, or in any other of a million possible collaborations over complex problems.  No matter the specifics, it falls to you and your team members to strike this balance and maintain it, even through emotionally charged, complex, and difficult conversations.

That’s not easy to do – so why not practice?  Guulag Tower is a simple team game that simulates this complex and challenging reality.  In about 20 minutes, a team of 5-9 people faces a miniature version of a complex collaborative problem – complete with experts, conflicting constraints, relevant and irrelevant questions, and time pressure.  Teams that exhibit good collaboration toward to a clearly defined goal succeed; teams that fail to define the goal or fail to collaborate to solve it will not.  Either way, everyone will end up with rich content for discussion, debrief, and application as they move away from the Guulag Tower, and back into the challenges of their own workplaces.

Includes facilitator instructions and debrief questions. Requires a facilitator or activity leader.  Multiple decks may be used for simultaneous delivery to groups of more than 9.  Suitable for facilitators, instructional designers, and managers wishing to run a small collaborative activity with their groups.  The Guulag Tower activity is suitable for professionals in complex, analytical functions, such as engineering, accounting, technical sales, and similar. If your group is less technical in nature, we recommend Rachel’s Journey instead.