Empowerment v Command and Control Game – The Human Knot

For a fun game to teach empowerment v command and control I like the Human Knot game.

In this game, two teams are given a simple problem to solve. The empowered team tries to solve the problem with all members of the team contributing. The other team tries to solve the problem with a manager using command and control.

This video shows the setup and execution of the actual human knot.

Additional Setup for Empowerment v Command and Control Game

  • Split your people into two teams of 8 to 12 people.
  • Ask anyone if they don’t like physical contact and allow them to step out of the game (they can be the Manager or Scribe).
  • Ask each team for a volunteer to be a Manager. The Manager is not part of the human knot.
  • Ask each team for and a Scribe to write down what they see and hear. The Scribe is not part of the human knot.
  • Set the teams into human knots as shown in the video above.
  • Empowered Team – The entire team can work together to make decisions and unknot themselves.
  • Command and Control Team – Only the manager can make suggestions and the team must act on them. Team members are not allowed to take actions without the manager telling them to do so. You may need to police this and remind the command and control team to only do what the manager tells them to.
  • The Scribe writes down things they hear and observations from their team on a whiteboard.
    Record the time it takes for each group to unknot themselves.


When the human knots are both untied, ask the following questions.

  • How long did each team takes to get untied?
  • Which team was faster? Why?
  • What did people think the difference between the two teams was?
  • Review the notes on the whiteboard.
  • Which team would participants prefer to be part of?
  • What other observations did they have?

Other benefits

Team building
Get to know each other
Fun :)

More information about the power of empowerment

This exercise goes nicely with the Turn the Ship Around video by David Marquet.


Packed May bank holiday weekend

Rachel and I had a packed bank holiday weekend.

On the Saturday we rode along the Regents Canal to the London river boat festival.

Canal cavalcade

On Sunday we spent 8 hours on England’s wonderful railway service (making a journey that should have been 3 hours) to Monkey World in Dorset. Monkey World is sanctuary for monkeys that are saved from all over the planet. Some were kept in research labs for in one meter cages by themselves for year after for year. Others were pets that got too big to be pets any more.

Chimp enclosure Monkey World, Dorset

Finally on the Monday off work we took our bike out to the country and covered them in mud. My bike the Canondale “Road Warrior” did okay in the muddy conditions despite it’s skinny road wheels.

Bundy, Laura and Hubbers

Half way through the day the front tire split and I got two consecutive punctures which I fixed while everyone else was enjoying their lunches.

Fixing a flat tire

All in all a packed and fun May bank holiday weekend in England :)

G-Unit v K-Dog Nintendo Wii Boxing

Nintendo Wii is the highly successful new kid on the gaming machine block. While Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Play Station slug it out with nearly identical machines Nintendo have taken a revolutionary approach with a controller that allows a much more physical interaction with the console.

I took this video of Graham, on the left using a style reminiscent of early Cassius Clay swing and sting approach and Kelvin, using a less conventional Steven Segal on LSD.

Who wins this battle of the combat styles? There is only one way to find out –

Coozer is coming back

Listening to a podcast on 95bfm I heard breakfast DJ Mikey Havoc called Member of Parliament, Brian Tamaki a coozer live on air. Russell Brown, his interviewee said “what a great word”. Then Mikey Havoc said Dave Dobbyn got him back into using it. Awesome! Coozer is coming back!

This is my previous post on the coozer game that I made up.


We just spent an amazing weekend celebrating my flatmate Brett’s Birthday in Sicily. We hired an old villa that was in the middle of vineyard just 20km from Corelone where the famous godfather movie was filmed. The villa was handed down from generation to generation and so the owner had taken care of every little detail to make sure our stay was fanastic … this included a surround sound stereo pool system so you could dance on the dive board.

We spent 3 awesome days relaxing in the sun and enjoying some great wine and sicilian food, topped off with some nice visits to, quaint towns, roman ruins and the beach



Malta is a beautiful place to go and I fully recommend it if you are interested in history and travel and food but they only have a couple of reasonable beaches. Today we decided against touring around and getting lost again and spent it at the beach getting half a tan. The front half.

On the food front I had the two best steaks I can remember having for a long time today. As Sophie would say ‘mmm meat’.


Another holiday game that I invented a while back is called Coozer. The idea is to get the word ‘coozer‘ into as many peoples home videos as possible. This is usually done by yelling it loudly while people are filming tourist attractions. The Easter Weekend All Malta Coozer Classic was a tightly fought contest that was neck and neck all the way and went right down to the wire i.e. Sophie won 3 to 2.


At the airport we played a game I heard about ages ago but have never played. It’s quite simple. Everyone puts in their credit cards in a bag and the person whose card is drawn out pays for the drinks. Murphy’s law of drinking games states that the person whose bright idea it is to play this game will undoubtedly end up paying for the first round. Doh!


Today I am heading off to Malta for Easter with my friend Sophie. This is the forecast for the next 5 days.

Malta Weather


There is a game I like to play when I go on holiday with London friends. Every time you run into someone in a foreign country when you are on holiday and you did not know that person was going to be there everyone else in the group has to buy you a beer. No sooner had I finished explaining the rules to Sophie when she runs into two friends, Johnny and Michelle from Shepherds Bush. Gutted.

The four of us arrived in Malta drunk as monkeys at 3am and basically passed out.


This is one of the best days we have had on tour. I fully recommend doing the www.mitchstours.com wine tour. We met some fabulous people, ate some fabulous food and drank loads of excellent wine and other alcoholic delights. I even learnt the best new drinking game I have learnt since university.


The nail game goes like this. You need one big block of wood, one hammer with a big and thin side to the head and one nail per person. First you tap all of the nails a little way into the block and then every person gets a turn trying to hammer their nail in only using the thin side of the hammer head. It’s much harder than it sounds and every miss means you have a drink. Finishing last is a full vessel offence. Smashing stuff and the Runt cleaned up.


Runty left his bag at the Wombat hostel bar after the crawl. The list of stuff missing includes:
The bag itself

Cards X 2

Chess (this includes the draughts and snakes and ladders)
Schnapps X 2

Runty is gutted that the world is so full of thieves when he is so honest. I agree.


Some friends of mine did the middle east (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon) in 14 days earlier this year. I remember thinking before they left that they might be a bit rushed to see all the major sights. I was shocked when they came back and they said they had spent seven of their fourteen precious days in a place called Dahab. After spending 19 days here myself I sort of understand – it’s a great place to ‘do nothing’.

Boat bar, Dahab, Egypt

Dahab is a ‘backpackers resort’ on the red sea. The sea is clear and warm. The beach is lined with cafes which all have plenty of cushions to relax on. The average day here goes something like this:

11.00 wake, shower etc

12.00 arrive in beachfront cafe and order breakfast

12.30 breakfasts arrives. Reorder any items left off original order.

12.30 – 19.00 repeat the following activities as required.

  • Read
  • Swim. When I can be manage the 5 meter walk to the ocean. Or when I need a pee (see point 5)
  • Sleep.
  • Tell local girls that I don’t need any more bracelets. This is usually done with a small flick of a hand to conserve energy. I tried just ignoring them a couple of times but they though that I was trying to start a game of “where you from?” which I have grown bored of late.
  • Drink coffee
  • Play cards
  • Play chess (undefeated)
  • 19.30 shower to wash salt from brown as body. Showers here are all salt water though so this is a little pointless but it kills a few minutes.
  • 20.00 order dinner 20.30-21.00 dinners arrives. Reorder any items left off original order.
  • 21.00 chat to other travellers and maybe have a beer, maybe not.
  • 00.00 sleep again
  • It’s a hard life.

One particularly motivated night I got up the energy to climb mount Sinai (2285m), the mountain where Moses supposedly found the ten commandments. The taxi left my hostel at 11pm and thanks to some speedy driving was at the base of the mountain by 12.30. About 30 backpackers from Dahab made the cruisey 2-hour trek up the mountain. Around 20 shops selling all manner of mountain climbing goodies such as water, coffee, chocolate and coke punctuate the walk. Like the mountain itself the prices of the goodies get higher and climb steeper as you approach the summit. At the top the 30 of us sat on the edge of a cliff waiting for the sun to rise. About two hours before dawn I looked over the edge and noticed that the entire path up the side of the mountain was filled with the light from hundreds of torches. It looked like a long line of glowing ants zing sagging their way up the path we had just completed. Sure enough, an hour or so later the resort tourists from Sharmel Shek etc arrived and the mountaintop was packed to the limit with people seeking that elusive photo of the sun rising over the mountain ‘next to’ mount Sinai. The walk down is along a different route and takes you down a series of 3000 steps called the steps of repentance. The steps were hand carved by a kooky monk a few hundred years back. I’m not sure what he did to deserve that sort of repentance but it must have been pretty bad. Or maybe the repentance is for the people who walk the steps i.e. me? In that case do you think 3000 is enough? My legs were only a little wobbly at the bottom so I suspect not.

View from Mount Sinai, Egypt

The three Kiwis from the South Island that I hung out with occasionally liked to play chess. They have also collected all of their empty water bottles since they arrived in Dahab. By the time they left they had over 100 in their hotel room. I tried getting them to bet some of their collection on chess but they weren’t keen (cowards). Which is lucky for them, as I would have cleaned them out in a couple of days. On a slightly brighter note I wagered Australia (my mum always said “Never gamble with anything that you aren’t prepared to lose”) against Dahab with one of the local waiters, so I now own Dahab. I think I might turn it into a nudist colony.

Hubbers playing chess in Dahab

Miraculously I have found a copy of Tolkein’s ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ one my first day here in Dahab. I spent considerable time searching for it in the cities of Casablanca, Rabat and Tunis to name a few. But was stoked it was here as I have many long hours in the sun in which to read. The three Kiwis also have the second book in the series, ‘the two towers’ so we traded for a while. Now all I need is the third bloody book…

Have gained some valuable insights which may improve my results in the ‘Where are the local women at?’ game. Large number of badly dressed, grubby local girls spends their days selling brightly coloured cotton bracelets to the tourists. If you ask them why they are not in school they either get angry or they say that they are on school holidays. This may very well be true but I suspect that no matter what time of year you come here you get that answer. This thought was reinforced by an Egyptian I know called ‘Smiley’ who said “What do they need school for? When they get married stay at home for their husbands”.

For a considerable period of time here in Dahab I thought I would be unable to dive as I never posted my forms back to PADI after completing my open water diving certificate in Thailand in 1997 (and I couldn’t be stuffed doing all that expensive classroom rubbish all over again). I was reasonably gutted about this for a while, as coming to Dahab and not diving is the equivalent of going to Cairo and not seeing the pyramids. Fortunately PADI were able to track down my old student records and I have now completed my advanced diving certificate in what is widely recognised as one of the world’s best dive spots. The advanced course at the Poseidon dive resort consist of the following:

  • A refresher dive – lots of diving, not much refreshing
  • A naturalist dive – not what you might think
  • And a yard glass of beer (four minutes) at the Dahab Hilton to ensure that your body is appropriately conditioned for the next day’s deep dive at 08.30.
  • A deep water dive – there is something about being 32 meters under the surface of the ocean that puts a smile on your face. It’s called nitrogen narcosis :)
  • A night dive – pretty spooky. Especially considering that I started my course the day after they spotted a four-meter shark cruising just off the reef here. Try getting that thought out of your head when your 15 meters under sitting there in the dark with your torch off
  • A multi level dive
  • A navigation dive

The diving here is absolutely spectacular and the bright and freaky fish are really cool.

Leaving Dahab is quite hard and I’m actually quite sad. But in the end I had finished my diving and most of my friends there had left already so it was time to hit the road again.


Dahab is way cool
Diving dozing and drinking
Loads of fit chicks here ;)


End up doing a half day tour of the local waterfalls, oasis and canyons etc, which are all choked to the limits with tourists. At the first stop I count over 100 four-wheel drives. End up back at the luxuriant Hotel Sofitel Palm Beach because if feel like another swim (also the creepy guy was pacing around outside my room).

Hubbers, Tozeur, Tunisia

Waterfall, Tozeur, Tunisia

In the evening I amuse myself with the locals in the evening by playing a couple of the locals favourite games. The first is “where you from?” which goes like this. They open with the line “hello my friend” which you are supposed to ignore because they are not your friend at all. After an initial pause whilst they realise that you have played “where you from” about 1000 times before they make a guess as to where you are from. For some reason I often get “Dutch” first followed by “English” or “American”. If they correctly guess where you are from correctly they get to try to sell you something from their shop. If they don’t get it right then you get to keep ignoring them if you should so wish. I am exceptionally good at this game and although I’m not really sure how the scoring works I think I might be the all Tozeur champ at the moment.

The other game the locals play is “where are the Tunisian women at?” this involves sitting around in the local coffee shops with large groups of Tunisian guys and wondering where all the local chicks are. During the day they make up less than the 20 percent of the street traffic and they all but disappear at night. I have to admit that I am more than a little crap at this game, as I have no idea at all where the local chicks might be. This is more than a little disappointing because as far as I can tell several hundred years of interbreeding with the Spanish, French and Italians to name a few have left some incredibly fit genes lying around.

Caught the overnight bus back to Tunis.