IAF Methods

Ship of Fools (Das Narrenschiff)

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
120 - 180 8 - 25
Group and team development, agile
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Ship of Fools is an organisational sculpt that can be used for

* illustrating problems experienced by a particular type of organisation
* illustrating relationships between central and local organisations
* developing a strategy by assessing relationships with external organisations
* team building by assessing the dynamics in and of teams
* identifying the dynamics of a problem set of relationships
* providing feedback to a system.


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    Setting: Pirate clothing does help

    Number of participants: 8-25

    Time needed: 2 - 3 hours

    Ideal conditions: Open mind, best done in open air

    Facilitator personality fit: Able to deal with strong emotions


    0. Prepare event, listen carefully and map situation on a "pirate boat", saffy?

    1. Create setting, boundaries and explain purpose

    2. Small exercise in typical stances (begging, super-rational, one-up, one down, ....)

    3. Assign roles
    • North West: Boatswain 
    • South East: Radio operator or Lookout in Crow's nest 
    • East: Captain 
    • North East: Machinist or Sailmaker 
    • South West: Cabin boy
    • West: First Mate
    • North: Constable
    • South: Swabbies 
    • Get into the role, by clothing, caps, hats, flags, shawls, ...
    4. Explain situation (based on in-take): the crew is incapable of attaining its intentions, goals or purpose because of external circumstance and internal problems

    5. Participant take on a role, strike a pose. Ask participants what they intend, want or propose. Ask how they perceive situations. What do they suggest?

    6. Create a new 'tableau vivant'. Re-enact. Repeat 5 and 6. 

    7. Have a dialogue about the experiences. What are the inner drives, longings, 

    motivations of the characters. What should they do differently to be more effective?

    8. Stage the solution: find the treasure and share.

    9. Let go of the role. 


    Follow-Up Required: Take care of some of the participants, as they make take their role too seriously

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: Insight in elements of behaviour that keep a system 'stuck', better co-operation, fun

    Potential pitfalls: Guarding the environment, Closing (ceremony) and leaving the role behind is crucial


    Source: Nynke Etk Fokma, Satir Workshops

    Derived from: Pictures and songs about the ship of fools

    Recognizable components: It uses 8 pre-determined roles that are easily recognisable "elements or "parts in any organisation, 8 observers, and a pre-set situation based on an organisational challenge or problem. The sculpt can also be used to answer substantial questions on possible organisations, and try out interventions in a "safe setting".

    References: I

    Alternative names: Application of Satir workshop, controlled folly, mardi grass

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