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Team Gutters

Team Gutters provides a fun and creative way to help participants establish which actions help and hinder effective team functioning.

Time: Approximately one hour to one hour fifteen minutes.

Supplies: For each group: several sheets of flipchart paper; six or seven different color markers; and handout.

Participants: 12 – 49 participants divided into groups of four to seven.

Method: Advise participants that you are going to form groups in order to determine what an effective team looks like. Divide the group into smaller groups of four to seven. Give each group flip chart paper, markers, and a handout with the following on it. Read it out loud.

Gutters are designed to collect waters running off a house’s roof and direct them towards a safe place. However, things other than water collect in gutters. Leaves, fir needles and pine cones accumulate in the gutter and block the drainage pipes. If these are not removed from the gutter, the overflowing water can saturate the soil next to the home ‘s foundation and cause settling which then causes the foundation to crack. The overflowing water also rots the wood in the roof next to the gutters, causing extensive damage. Your team has its own gutters. The gutters are team norms that help you do the job you are supposed to do. But problems within a team can be similar to leaves, fir needles and pine cones. If not resolved regularly, they can dam age or destroy your team ‘s effectiveness.

Advise the participants that their assignment is to draw a visual representation of this analogy on the flip chart paper. They are to do a mind map, noting which behaviors lead to cluttered gutters and which lead to clean gutters. At the center of the mind map should be a picture of a gutter that represents their team. They have a maximum of 40 minutes to complete this activity. And at the end of the session, they are to explain their map to the other participants. Quickly demonstrate how to do a mind map (use a different topic to illustrate so that you do not influence their work). Ensure that participants understand what they are supposed to do. (The instructions for the mind map follow.) Give each group an area to work in. At the end of 30 minutes, advise the groups that they only have ten mo re minutes to complete their mind map. At the end of 40 minutes reconvene the groups. Have each group explain their mind map.


  •     Note similarities between the mind maps on flip chart paper or overheads.
  •     Ask the group for their reaction to the other mind maps: Was there anything that stood out for them?
  •     Ask the groups: What lessons did you learn from the mind maps?
  •     Advise the groups that it is their responsibility to make sure that their group works well together.
  •     Suggest that they might w ant to keep their mind map s and periodically review them to make sure they are focusing on behaviour that helps a team function well.


Mind Mapping Instructions:

  1. Using coloured felt pens, draw a small picture (or write a phrase) in the centre of the flip chart paper representing the issue you want to solve, in this case  your team’s gutters;
  2. Draw lines out from the main problem (it helps to use different colours for each line). Each line should represent a different aspect of your problem or issue;
  3. Write down what each line represents either on top of or on the line or draw a picture illustrating each line;
  4. Add other lines flowing off these main lines;
  5. Write a word or short phrase on the smaller lines indicating what each new line represents (you may find that mind mapping works best for you if you  write down the phrases or draw the images first and then connect them with the lines); and
  6. Draw images next to those items that have the most meaning for you.




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