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Broken Squares

Learning Focus

  • Collaboration
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Feedback
  • Icebreaker
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Team Building

Group Size

4 - 16
4 - 20


20-40 Minutes
More information
Next day delivery available

Broken Squares game success is dependent upon building relationships between team members, an awareness of what others need and a willingness to offer resources without any verbal communication. This makes it an ideal Emotional Intelligence training activity. This activity helps develop learners’ problem solving and team building skills, as well as improving general trust in professional relationships in interdependent groups.

To be successful there are two general group norms that each team (4 per team) must adhere to:

  • Pay attention to what other team members need as much to what you need
  • No one is finished until everyone is finished

Broken Squares is effectively an exercise based on ‘giving’ and the included training activity review focus can easily move to individuals and their feelings, actions and decisions. The message of ‘being aware of what others need’ can then be translated into their workplace.
There are sufficient physical materials to work with four groups with 4x participants in each group. Add observers where you can’t form groups of exactly 4, and therefore work with up to 20 x participants. Add multiple sets for larger group sizes.


  • To establish a clear and shared understanding of the objectives of the task at hand
  • To recognise that participation & co-operation by all members of a team are essential to attain team & individual goals
  • To understand the value of offering ‘input’ into a group without the expectation of reciprocal giving (one of the basic principles of effective negotiation)
  • To be aware of the difficulties created when normal channels of communication are restricted
  • To be open to an exploration of different solutions in problem-solving
  • To practise behaviours associated with interdependent teamworking

RSVP Design’s version of Broken Squares is based on the Broken Squares game invented by Dr. Alex Bavelas (1973). This is a challenging task - perhaps because there is often a focus on individual contribution over team contribution in many workplaces? Or perhaps because it is so different from conventional group task behaviour yet so necessary for successful cooperative learning?

Participants need to use problem solving skills collaboratively without any verbal or written communication.

Spit into groups of exactly four participants (with additional observers if required) each participant is provided with some plastic pieces, and typically seated facing inwards on four sides of a square table.

Success in this task is achieved when each person finishes with a square of the same size in front of them, and all the pieces issued at the beginning of the task are used.

An additional rule is that no participant may take or request a piece, they can only pass a piece to another participant (and the piece must be unconditionally accepted).

This full Broken Squares activity materials pack is also bundled with Hollow Square in the discounted Learning Squared package.

  • 4x Sets of Broken Square activity
    (1x Red, 1x Blue, 1x Orange, 1x Green, each containing 21 x durable plastic foam pieces)
  • Full Facilitation notes (including suggested review questions) & delegate briefing instructions
  • Branded rucksack to hold all materials


Package Weight: 1kg

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