By Lorraine Ukens

• To practice effective team problem-solving and decision-making skills in meeting team goals.
• To strategically plan for the utilization of available team resources.

Team Size
Participants will work together in teams of three or four members each.


Thirty minutes.

• Twenty different playing cards and one envelope for each team.
• Flip chart and marker.

For each participating team, randomly select twenty playing cards and place them in an envelope.

1. Instruct participants to form teams of three or four players each. Assign a different team color to each group.
2. Explain that the goal of this game is to reduce an arrangement of playing cards to as few piles as possible—ideally, to a single pile.
3. Describe the rules as follows: A team decision is to be made for each move. You may pick up any card in the array and move it any distance horizontally or vertically (never diagonally) and place it on top of another card that matches it in either suit or rank. A pile of cards moves as a unit, with only the top card being relevant in determining where the pile may move.
4. Explain that the teams will have approximately 15 minutes to complete the task. The team that reduces the arrangement of cards to the smallest number of piles will be the winner.
5. Direct each team to place its cards on the table in a grid pattern consisting of five columns and four rows.
6. Before you begin the activity, ask each team to predict the final number of piles it will be able to produce. Record this number on the flip chart next to the appropriate team color.
7. Signal for the game to begin, then stop when all teams have finished or after 15 minutes have elapsed.
8. Direct each team, in turn, to report the number of remaining card piles it has, recording each number next to the appropriate prediction on the flip chart. Announce the winner as the team that has the smallest number of remaining piles.

Rather than giving each team a random set of playing cards, give each team a duplicate twenty-card set. You can decide to have each group arrange the cards in the 5 x 4 pattern, or you can supply all teams with the same pattern arrangement which you will display or distribute.


• How close was your team to meeting the predicted goal?
• What factors affected the end result?
• Describe your team's decision-making approach to classifying the cards.
• What was your team's planning strategy? Did it change during the process? Why or why not?
• Because each card arrangement was different, how does availability of resources affect a team's ability to meet its goals? (This question is not applicable if you use the first option of the Variation above.)


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