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Request: “I’m hoping you can help me. All the sales reps that work with us are Independent Contractors so they are basically running their own businesses as sole traders.  I’m looking for an activity that I can run with them that covers having a business ownership mentality rather than an employee mentality.”

Our Answer: I suggest that you try Raptor / Executive Marbles (actually two different activities, but Raptor is a variation of Executive Marbles) — both have a strong slant toward being your own boss yet working with others to get ahead. In the play of both games, there are many individual decisions that people take (how to throw the ball, which ball to go after, play it safe or take a gamble) and the feedback from those decisions is immediate and apparent to all (made the shot/hit the opponent’s ball and now we’re in good shape OR missed by a fraction and just set the other team up for an easy win).  Either will “call forth” some of the initiative that you’re hoping to see in your participants and give you good material for debriefing later.
Executive Marbles is an activity in Sam Sikes’ book by the same name.
Goal:Be the first person to toss your ball into all five holes out and back again while knocking opponents balls out of the away and avoiding being hit yourself.

Props:1 billiard ball per person

5 surveyor’s flags (about a foot long, very thin metal rod, blaze orange flag on one end)

Course PreparationYou are laying out the equivalent of a small golf course; in this game, however, everyone is throwing his/her own billiard ball.  To set up the course, designate an initial area as the first “tee box,” then walk out 20 – 40 yards, place a billiard ball on the ground, step on it so that a distinct impression is left in the ground, then remove the ball and place a surveyor’s flag next to it.  You now have hole one.  From hole one, walk out 20-40 yards and repeat the sequence to create hole two.  Repeat until you have created five holes; while you can do this in one straight line, it adds to the competition is you have a pronounced turn at hole 3 or 4 to create a roughly “L-shaped” course.

InstructionsThe goal is to get your ball into holes one through five and then back through the gauntlet of players in reverse order until you finally make a winning shot back at hole number one.

Each person starts at his starting marker by tossing his ball towards the first hole.  Taking turns, everyone shoots.  If someone’s ball hits another ball on the first bounce or before the first bounce, he gets another shot before the next person has a turn.  There are no limits on how many times your ball may hit other balls.  Make sure people know you are tossing your ball.  We don’t want to make helmets a requirement.
There are five types of shots:
1. A shot — your feet are together on the spot where your ball previously landed.  Nothing else is supporting your body.  Underhand or overhand throws are fine.  You must let go of the ball.  If your ball doesn’t go into a hole or hit another ball, it stays on the ground where it stops.
2. Another shot — Your ball hits someone else’s ball on the first bounce or before, so you can take another shot.
3.  A slam dunk – a slam dunk is when a person deliberately falls forward in the effort of making a shot (say, into a hole or to hit another person’s ball).  You must let go of the ball before you touch the ground.  This can add necessary extra distance but it can also hurt, so be careful.
4.  A completed shot — Your ball goes into the hole that it is supposed to.  If you can reach the hole, you may place the ball in the hole rather than tossing it.  Pick up your ball and wait for your next turn to shoot.  You can only complete a shot with your own ball.  If someone else’s ball inadvertently gets knocked into a hole, remove it and place it next to the hole.
5.  A winning shot – you have completed the shots for holes 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2 in sequence and you now make the last completed shot at hole 1.  You win!
Team VariationTwo teams of 2-4 players each competes against each other.  One team has all striped balls, the other team takes solids.  Players alternate (stripes 1, solids 1, stripes 2, solids 2 and so on).  Your team wins when any one of your players makes a winning shot.  Strategy becomes very important: do all of your players attempt to move forward through the course?  Does one person try to run the gauntlet while others support or harass the opposing team?

Raptor is another of Sam’s activities and is included in his book Raptor and Other Teambuilding Activities.  It is a variation of EM, so I’ll just try to explain what is different.
There is only one hole.  Create the hole at your feet because play will start and end here.
There is a “target ball” (for example, the 8 ball).  Standing at the hole, one person tosses the ball in any direction, about thirty feet away.
Goal: be the person to knock the target ball into the hole OR knock your opponent’s ball into the hole.
There are four types of shots: a shot, another shot, a slam dunk, and a winning shot.
There is a three-click maximum for “another shots” (toss-click, toss-click, toss-click, done).
If any participant’s ball is knocked into the hole, that ball is removed from play and the participant is out.
Raptor can be played in teams as well; your team wins when any person on your team knocks the target ball into the hole OR when ALL of the opponent’s balls are knocked into the hole.  Raptor requires less space and usually takes less time (15-30 minutes compared to an hour or so).

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