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Learning Methods

Diminishing Resources

Objective: Have ideas for completing the work of the company with fewer resources (money, time, people).

Materials: Make rope circles of varying sizes - 2' diameter to about 8' diameter - enough for everyone to be able to stand in one. Lay them out ahead of time.

Introduction: "There are always enough resources."

Instruction: Have each person stand with both feet entirely within a circle. Tell them when you say go that they are to move to another circle and put both feet entirely within a circle. Then tell them to move.

They each move from circle to circle. Once all in a circle tell them to move again. This time, remove a circle as they move. Then wait until they figure out how to get everyone with both feet in a circle before saying, "Move again." Each time remove one circle.

As the circles diminish, some realize that they must do something different and other keep scrambling for the circles. They create strategies to keep circles or complain lo9udly when they are removed but keep standing in circles.

Leave one big circle until the second to last one - then leave only a small one. Someone eventually gets the idea to sit and put only feet in the circle - thereby reducing the need for space. Usually they are not followed by the group for several rounds. Once the group shifts and starts to be creative in getting their feet within a circle, they can go on for infinite rounds - long after all the circles have been removed.

Process: "What were you thinking as the circles were removed?" "What did you do to be sure with fewer circles everyone could still get both feet in?" "How can you do ...(whatever they said to answer last question) with the less time, less staff, less money (or whatever diminishing resources they're dealing with)?

From Elizabeth to the Training Ideas listserv (



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