Team Builders

Desert Survivor

A Group Decision Making Exercise on Resource Management

11 items:

  • map of desert

  • salt tablets

  • parachute

  • rain coats

  • mirror

  • compass

  • book (edible plants of the desert)

  • flashlight

  • pistol (loaded)

  • canteen of water

  • hunting knife

You have been a passenger on a plane that has crashed in the desert. These are the items that you have retrieved from the plane before it burned up. The pilot and copilot have been killed and the only survivors are the people in your group.

On a scale of 1-11, number these in the order of importance to survival.

Give the following instructions to each group:

  • Work individually for a few minutes

  • Appoint a chair person to facilitate the process

  • Decide as a group on the correct survival order

NASA uses this group decision-making exercise with the Astronauts.

THE POINT: as your group starts to discuss, they'll find out that the priorities vary depending on the GOAL, or PURPOSE they come up with. For example, the biggest issue is, are they going to stay by the plane (air force pilots, unless in enemy territory and in danger are told to stay with the plane) or leave. If they are going to stay, then the compass and map aren't much of a priority. YOU NEED TO ESTABLISH THE FRAME in which every other decision is made or discussion is useless.

Discover Jonathan’s top team builders in his book about developing student leaders, “Ministry By Teenagers: Developing Leaders from Within”


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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