Efficiency Exercises

Posted on by Brandon Klein

What happens when you put 20+ minds to work virtually on generating proven exercises?


A 2 - 3 hour module to serve as the opening of a one and a half day session dealing with efficiency - as in, doing more with less. There will be about a dozen engineers who have enjoyed collaborative modules and like working with their hands. 

What ideas come to your mind? What kinds of modules, activities or discussions have you seen work well to address "efficiency" or similar?

Proposed by Todd Johnson @lumpysnake



Inventions: The quintessential guide compliments of Robin Brooking @rsbrooking


One twist on inventions that we did in an "efficiency" session years ago involved creating an audit score-sheet. We didn't tell them about it up front, though the initial assignment did have some peripheral language about being efficient in the use of materials available. I think it may have been after the first round, when teams merged, we introduced the audit score-sheet concept. I believe we only merged two teams, which made success more likely. Their goal was to integrate both inventions in the most efficient manner while still achieving their objectives.


Have teams build a "house of cards game" like thing and have other teams find out how many cards they can delete without the structure falling down.  What's a good design? When is redundancy a good thing?  When does efficient stop being efficient? Compliments of Gail Taylor @sombutnotal


Peanut butter sandwich module - gets at same things that Gail mentions in a different way, as well as issues of communication and understanding  - and very fun/funny as well. Compliments of Sita Magnuson @tinywindow
Also check out the PB&J step by step guide. Compliments of Jonah Evans @jonahevans


Marshmallow-Challenge: Of course check out the original site. And check out one teams learnings from delivering it the first time. Compliments of Christoph Kellner


Haiku: You could have two teams. One you would give examples of haiku poetry. Another you would give art books of drawings by artists like Matisse, cave paintings, etc. After studying how these styles work, they would then create haiku or drawings that capture the essence of something with economy of strokes. Compliments of Bill Burck @billburck


Anything: Just use the Pomodoro Technique:


Cups & Straws: Mostly prototyping, but can def have an efficiency edge. Compliments of Brandon Klein @collaborateking


Conduct a Pre-Mortem to see what works and doesn't work when making things efficient. 


Limitations TED Talk:  How limitations can cause us to become limitless... So how about a physical challenge of sorts (building something) with artificial limitations imposed upon individuals to break either the collaborative process or the physicality of building something? Compliments of David Christie @christie_david


Share learnings/feedback/success/failure in the comments: