Zin Obelisk


Zin Obelisk is a powerful group dynamics exercise that explores group dynamics. The original version of this activity appeared in “Improving Work Groups: A Practical Manual for Team Building” by Dave Francis & Don Young.

“In the ancient city of Atlantis a monument called a Zin Obelisk was built in honour of the goddess Tina….”

There are slightly different versions of the activity. For example, at the University of Warwick, Bob Thomson has developed a simplified version of it which is easier for groups who speak different first languages.

How do we work both collaboratively and effectively?

How do we share information in a group?

How do we get things done in a team together and immerse in the task without losing a more strategic overview?

If you have been part of this exercise, here are a few links and questions to help you reflect further.

Questions for reflection after the Zin Obelisk Exercise

How did you organise yourselves as a group? What worked and what worked less well?

Did you identify group roles? Who did what?

How did you collect, share, record and organise information?

How well was information shared?

How collaborative was the team? Were there any competitive dynamics?

How well did you listen to each other?

What questions were most useful?

Did anyone dominate the group?

Who contribute most and who least, and why?

How reactive was the group? Did it panic or remain calm?

Did anyone keep time?

Did you check your answer and the steps you took along the way?

How did you sit as a group? In a circle? What seating arrangement (or standing arrangement) works best for a group?

How did you draw on the strengths of each team member?

Overall, how well did you communicate with each other as a team? 

How well did your group use its time?

Did any leaders emerge and did leadership change during the activity?

How well did you manage your time? Did you divide up the task into chunks of time and develop an overall, shared time plan?

How did you deal with disagreement in the group?

Did the group ever stop, as a group, pause and reflect?

What would you do differently next time?

If you reached the right solution what behaviours enabled that? If you didn’t reach the right solution, what behaviours got in the way?

Did people from different cultures behave differently and bring different attitudes, values and behaviours to the task? How do you ensure difference is recognised, respected and best utilised?

What lessons from this activity apply to other groups you work in?


Visit the Group Dynamics Resource Page

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