Top Dog

By Joshua Reid

This game incorporates themes of leadership, teamwork, and motivation. TOP DOG is a simple game that can be used as a warm-up or a cool-down. I adapted the game from a children's game that I played in primary schools around Australia. This version is designed for corporate participants. The themes are the same as the children's version, but we call them by different names.

15 minutes (less with smaller groups)


Brief participants. Explain that the object of the game is to become the Top Dog, the most important person in the group. At the end of the game, there will be only one winner. During the game, participants must gather different categories of information.

Explain group formation. During the game, you will call out different numbers. Participants should stop whatever they are doing, form small groups of that number, and be seated in these groups. Any participant who is not in a group of the specified size should remain standing.
Call out information categories. Make up your own categories or use this list:
• Exchange business cards.
• Exchange phone numbers.
• Locate everyone who was born in the same month as yourself.
• Locate everyone who has milk in her coffee.

Specify the group size. In the midst of each information activity, call out a number. Participants must organize themselves into groups of that size and sit down in their newly-formed groups. During the first couple of times, call out an evenly divisible number. For example, if you have 10 participants, five or two would be good. Later, call out numbers that will leave a few participants stranded. In our example, three will leave one participant outside the groups.

Eliminate slower participants. Ask participants who did not join groups of the specified size to sit in a special area called “Department of No Importance”.
Continue the process. Keep supplying information categories and group sizes until there is only one participant left. If you end up with two participants, conduct a Sudden Death contest. Keep asking trivia questions of each participant alternatively. The first person to give an incorrect answer is eliminated. The other participant is now declared to be the Top Dog.

Debrief the activity.
Interview the Top Dog with questions that are designed to point out that the people who didn't make it are now in one big team together, while the Top Dog is all alone. Here are some sample questions that you may use during this interview:
• How does it feel to be the winner?
• How did you get to the top?
• How do you feel about the people you had to eliminate to get to the top?
• What are you going to do now that you are the winner?
• Who are you going to ask for help? You cannot use the members of the group, because they are too busy doing things that are not important.
Have fun with these interview questions, but don't push the point too harshly. They will get this point anyway: It's only lonely at the top if you haven't taken anyone with you.


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