Players will play a game of battleships with each other. Some players will experience restrictions to how responsive they can be, allowing us to explore the effects.


  • Battleships game set (4-12 players -> 2 sets, 6-18 players -> 3 sets, etc.)
  • 80 blue pegs per set (Use the excess white pegs, and spray them blue!)


  • Divide the participants into an even number of Navies (groups of 1 - 3 players).
  • Tables and chairs
  • It is best that team play opposite each other
  • Flip chart / whiteboard for the score board



This game was created by James Scrimshire

  • Goal: This game is designed to allow participants to experience and reflect on different on the importance of “Responding the change over following a plan”. They will feel the effects of different sized feedback loops, from big bang to empirical.

  • Learning objectives:

    • Responsiveness is vital to success
    • Generally speaking, the tighter we make the learning feedback loop, the more successful we can be
    • Too fast a feedback loop (in this game being able to change strategy at will) is often worse than a small batch. This is because having a pause to consider what we’re going to focus on next and designing a short term strategy for it ensures that there actually is a strategy. Additionally, there is a lot of overhead (waste) in making a decision every turn when hunting for the next ship.
    • The time taken to plan the 40 shots in this game is almost entirely waste


  • MODE: Small groups of 1-6 players
    • Battleships sets with instruction inserts
    • Decide: how many team you want. This can be anywhere from 4 upward, depending on the group size and the amount of battleships kits you have.
    • Instruct: Ask players to form into teams and sit appropriately.
    • Handout: Give each team a battle ships kit
    • Inquire: Check players are familiar with the game, and explain the rules if needed
    • Instruct: Ask the teams to place their 5 ships onto the upper grid
    • Handout: Give each team a bag of 40 blue pegs
    • Instruct: Ask the teams to design their battle strategies by placing the 40 blue pegs onto the lower grid
  • TIMEBOX: 5-10 mins


  • MODE: Small groups of 1-6 players
    • Handout: Allow each team to choose a mission parameter at random
    • Instruct: Read your missing parameters, and keep them secret!
    • Support: Visit each team, and endure they understand the parameters
    • IMPORTANT: If playing with more than 4 teams: ensure each opposing teams have different mission parameters.
    • Instruct: Begin the battle
  • TIMEBOX: 15-20 mins


  • MODE: All
  • PREP:
    • Make this score chart while the game is playing:

        Hits Sinks
      Every shot    
      Every 10 shots    
      Every 20 shots    
      No change    
    • Record the results on the score chart and celebrate the winners
    • Debrief with questions like:
      • WHAT:
        • Describe your experiences + probing questions to build on their answers
        • Why were you successful / unsuccessful?
        • What did you discover in this game?
      • SO WHAT:
        • What would be the number one takeaway from this?
        • What did you discover about yourself during the activity?
      • NOW WHAT:
        • How is this like something that occurs in our workplace?
        • What does this activity suggest about our daily actions at work?
        • What will we do differently as a result of our insights?
        • What sorts of things could we change from the insights we’ve generated here
    • Ensure the learning objects we’re revealed in the debrief, otherwise ask more specific debriefing questions to reveal them.


  • Let the group who gets the mission parameters that allow them to change their plan at will know may simply use the blue pegs as shot counters
  • Set up game boards with 40 white pegs, and 40 red pegs (you don’t need the rest)
  • The ships cannot be positioned diagonally (people will try this :) )
  • It’s worthwhile checking everyones understanding of the rules are the same - there are some strange and unusual with local variations :)
  • If you timebox is threatened, its ok to stop the game at 30 shots.