Activities and Simulations


This site contains a variety of materials intended to support instructors using Reframing Organizations.   Many of these materials are copyrighted, but instructors in college and university courses are granted automatic permission to use the materials and to make copies for their students, on condition that all copies carry the copyright notice and author credits.   For questions about permission for other uses, write to Lee Bolman.   Use the same address to submit questions, comments, or suggestions. 

  • Do-it-Themselves Powerpoint.  Professor Carole Barnett, Whittemore School of Business, University of New Hampshire, has had considerable success with an activity that asks students to develop and teach from their own Powerpoint slides.
  • Power Simulation.  A brief but engaging and usually powerful simulation that creates a three-tier society stratified by status and wealth.
  • The Organization Simulation.  A highly-involving simulation activity with a focus on issues of structure, power, politics, and leadership.  It descends from the Power Simulation, but is different in that the organization has a product to produce, and there is a client to whom the organization might sell the product.  It is usually a pretty good demonstration of how tough it can be to get close to the customer while trying to keep your organization running at the same time. 
  • Monarchs, Lords and Serfs.   A short reading that describes many of the system dynamics that are likely to occur in the Power Simulation or the Organization Simulation.  We normally assign it in advance -- it doesn't seem to alter the play of the simulation very much, but it often helps people see parallels between their simulation experience and ideas in the reading.
  • Quality Housing.  A relatively short and simple, but involving team exercise.  Teams design and produce housing (using cards, tape and markers) in a competitive context.
  • Walking Meditation.  Bo Tep, of Saint Mary's College and Santa Clara University, contributed this short paper describing his teaching approach to the four-frames.  It includes a "walking meditation" activity using a lift-move-place-pause rhythm aligned with the four frames. 
  • Global Edge.  Global Edge offers a number of simulations and activities related to intercultural communication and doing business abroad.  Some are downloadable for free: 
    • Journey to Sharahad:  Americans travel to try to make a deal with a company in Sharahad, which is roughly aligned with cultures in the Middle East
    • Trip to Mintana: Similar to Sharahad, but Mintana is more like cultures in East Asia.
    • A Visit with the Amberana:  A team of Americans visits an insular tribe in a remote area in Latin America to try to obtain a rare plant.
    • Brief Encounters. An brief exercise that puts participants in one of two distinct cultures, and then has them mix at a party.
    • Global Alliance Game. A trading game in which groups trade with one another to try to gain points. Includes instructions, a slide deck, and a spreadsheet for keeping track of points.
    • Trading Game.  This game is a simpler variant on the model of the Global Alliance game.  Multiple groups, all trying to accomplish the same goals, but blessed with unequal levels of resources at the beginning of the game. Groups can trade with one another or buy resources from the instructor.   Although the site targets high school students, the game could easily work for undergraduate or graduate students. 
  • Carpenter Strategy Toolbox:  This site hosts a varied collection of videos, class activities, readings, etc.  The ostensible focus is on strategy, but many of the activities have broad relevance to organizational behavior and leadership.  [Professor Russell Coff of the University of Wisconsin-Madison maintains this site as a tribute to his colleague, Mason Carpenter, Weikel Professor of Leadership at Wisconsin, who died in 2011 at age 50.)
    • The Vision Thing.  This activity sets up 3-person (or 4-person) teams, with a CEO, a manager, and a production worker.  The CEO develops a vision in advance of the activity.  The manager translates the CEO's vision into something that can be built using a construction kit (such as Legos or Tinkertoys).  The worker builds the manager's design.    The simulation only requires about half an hour, so it is possible to repeat it with individuals changing to different roles.