The Paper Plane Challenge

The Lab's Paper Plane Challenge

The Lab’s Paper Plane Challenge

Great for teaching continuous improvement through customer engagement and creative thinking. The Lab’s Paper Plane Challenge has now been Battle Tested and perfected with nearly 700 people up and down the country.

So how did it start? 

Over a year ago the CEO of O2 approached Nic Whatmore and I (Jez Sherwin) to create a fun activity to run with 250 people at the next IT Conference. In the brief we had been given a time slot of 1.5 hours and the theme of the day was Disrupt. We were also told that everyone will be seated on tables but there was lots of space around the venue for activities.

So how did we come up with the idea?

Well we didn’t want to just disrupt, we wanted to DISRUPT The Labway and bring this IT event to life! So Nic and I went crazy with ideas. It’s always fun when you take off the gloves and throw around lots of ideas.

After going a few rounds with Nic we came up with the concept of The Paper Plan Challenge. It was perfect and it ticked all the boxes.

On The Day.

Just over two weeks later, Nic and I were standing on a platform in front of 250 people, introducing The Paper Plane Challenge (nerve racking, just a little). As part of the introduction, I got everyone to build a 60 second paper plane and throw it at Nic. This got them giggling and the ice was broken. We then introduced the iterative learning cycle, the three challenges (including Kevin the pilot) and the three attempts for each challenge along with the scorecards. Last but not least we said “everything you will need is in the big envelopes on your tables”, notice how we didn’t say you must only use the content of… remember that word Disrupt.

Ever herd of the Butterfly Effect, well we had lots of that with our 1 hour challenge.

Even though the time was short, some teams spent all their time building then testing away from the attempt stations until it was too late. Another team failed too fast by sticking with the same plane and doing three attempts one after another and some teams tried to throw more people into trying to get more points, and still ended up with only 20 points.

Then all of a sudden one team started to think out of the box and got a whopping 156 points. They had disrupted the room, word spread fast and other teams started to think sideways and the scores on the board started rocketing. We had disrupted the people’s perception and teams started to get creative in solving problems.

From the event feedback we got, we then introduced a CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) score and turned the Judges into Customers. For The Paper Plane Challenge this was the icing on the cake and we have been running these events very successfully with schools and teams up and down the country.

If you are interested in finding out more or thinking of running a team challenge, do tweet me @jezsherwin or contact me on Linked In.

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