The Energy ball and the Value of Connection
(Formerly called the UFO Ball)
This is one of our favorite tools to help teach the value of connection. The Energy Ball may look like a simple ping-pong ball with two pieces of metal, but when both pieces of metal are touched simultaneously, the ball lights up and makes noise. The tool itself is pretty fun, but once you add a significant debriefing point to the experience, it drives home the metaphor of the power of experience. Here's how we like to use it:
• Invite your group to stand or sit in a circle.
• Conduct a brief discussion on the value of connection. Why is it important? What are the benefits of being connected to a group or an individual?
• As the facilitator, hold the Energy ball in your left hand and touch one of the metal plates with your left index finger. Ask ‘Bob’, the person on your left, if he will demonstrate the activity with you. Invite him to touch the other metal plate on the Energy ball with his right index finger without physically touching you (meaning, no skin-to-skin contact between the two of you).
• Now describe to the group that you may not know very much about ‘Bob’, your partner, but you both work at the same organization (which is represented by the Energy ball). Explain that when you make a connection with ‘Bob, ’ exciting things can happen. At this moment, reach up with your right hand and touch Bob’s left hand. The moment you make physical contact with Bob’s left hand, the Energy ball will light up and make noise.
• Notice the Ooooh’s and Ahhhh’s that erupt from the group.
• This is a wonderful tool used to teach the value of connection in your team.
• Next, disconnect hands with Bob and invite the entire group to hold hands with the person standing next to them in the circle.
• Once everyone is connected hand to hand, reconnect to the Energy ball with Bob. The ball will immediately light up and start making noise again. If one person disconnects from the team, the ball will stop making noise. That's a powerful metaphor to debrief the effects on a team when someone is not giving 100%. Emphasize that when someone disconnects from the team, it has an effect on everyone else in the circle. Pretty powerful metaphor!
• The largest group we have experimented with was 225 people.
For all of the school teachers out there, it can teach the science of closed circuits with amusement.
If you use several of them in one circle, you can teach polarities. Have groups try to figure out how to make 4 Energy balls light up by figuring out the polarity sequence.
Debriefing points: 1. If everyone is connected to the mission, vision or values of the group, surprising things can happen. If someone disconnects from these, it has an effect on everyone else in the group.
2. The importance of maintaining a connection.