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Rollerball is an effective cross-functional team building challenge.
Rollerball cross functional team building challenge

Operation Rollerball Team Building Activity.


Situation Brief


A high profile customer is in the market for a complex and unique device that must be constructed across several operating areas.  To be successful, effective cross-functional execution is essential.  Success for one stage of the project means success for all, and conversely, failure for one means failure for all.


Internal, and external customers will need to be dealt with effectively during all stages of the project as each team works in collaboration to deliver a final complex solution to the challenge at hand.  Teams must plan and design their approach before executing the construction and testing of the working model of a complex device. 


Delivering what the customer wants in the appropriate way and by making best possible use of the available human and material resources is ‘Mission Critical’ and is the only path to securing this lucrative contract.


This is a very effective team building challenge to illustrate the value of cross-functional working and collaboration.





Win a lucrative contract by building a working model of a complex device across different operating areas that allows a journey to be undertaken in specific time frames nominated by the customer. 


To win and keep the business the teams must design and execute effectively as a team the solution to a complex team building challenge.  The aim of the project is to deliver customer satisfaction and an excellent product in a profitable and sustainable way by being able to communicate and operate with flexibility across different functions and areas.



Phase 1: Planning


Each team receives a complex brief from the client’s agents who will be required to release certain TOP SECRET Mission directives and information only if approached in the proper manner by teams seeking input and advice that may help them win the business.  Teams will be separated into different operating zones with each posing its own unique challenges that initially seem isolated, but quickly reveal the fundamental interconnectedness of the wholechallenge.  Each team and sub-unit is highly reliant upon one another for information and ultimate success.



Phase 2: Brief the plan


Teams will need to convert their plans and ideas into implementation friendly stages that dovetail into the realistic timeframes and resources that they have at their disposal.  It is critical that all sub units are briefed well to ensure that everyone knows what they are doing and what they are responsible for in the “Bigger Picture” of what needs to be built.  The efforts of each unit must dovetail with all of the others to make the whole process work effectively.



Phase 3: Execute the plan


Teams will need to execute their plans by building the working model of the device.  Flexibility and willingness to change is essential as customer demands may change and things may not always go exactly to plan.  How well has the team planned for contingencies?  Can they adapt their device quickly to deal with new demands?  If they don’t the customer may decide to move on.  Each team will gradually build their device across 3 separate areas.  Sub units must ensure that their individual areas dovetail smoothly with those of other operating units.


Key Execution Stages

  • Build the device across 3 designated areas

  • Ensure the capsule can safely make the journey

  • Test various times in accordance with customer requirements

  • Modify the device as required for a final timed and scored run

  • Agents will award points / contracts according to performance


Phase 4: De-Brief the Mission


A critical phase to any successful mission is the de-brief that will enable teams to analyse what they did well along with any execution errors and process errors to establish underlying causes and more importantly how those link to the business challenges.  What did we do well?  What did we not do so well?  How can we role these lessons into better execution in the business?



Key issues

  • Customer focus is what it is all about

  • Interdependence upon one another is a fact of life

  • Each element is one part of a whole process

  • Sharing information and resources is crucial

  • Cross-functional collaboration can work and must work to allow success

  • Adapting to change helps us survive

  • Teamwork and customer focus means success and profit



Potential Themes

Rollerball can be tailored for delivery within a variety of exciting and colourful themes.

  • Secret agent project

  • Myth and mystery / wizards device

  • Roller-coaster / theme park project

  • Space agency launch device

  • Ancient mythology



Potential Key Learning Points / Outcomes from Operation Rollerball


Cross-Functional Working

This event is designed so that teams are required to engage in good cross-functional sharing of ideas and equipment to enable them to complete the project with greater speed, profitability or effectiveness.  Failure to do so will greatly reduce profitability as teams will not meet customer expectations.


Customer Focus

Objectives are based upon strict tender criteria from facilitators acting as various profiles of customer with varying and changing needs as the project is underway.  Points are determined entirely from achieving customer objectives and temptations will exist to stray from that objective to “nuts and bolts” issues.


Team Roles and Diversity

The challenge will demand that many different types of team role contribution are essential for a balanced and profitable approach to meet the challenge.  Team members will find it essential that different team role styles come forward at the right times to deal with different aspects of the challenge.  Leading, Thinking, Doing, Supporting and Challenging roles are needed at different times.  Models such as Belbin, Myers Briggs or DISC are well re-enforced here.




Behavioural Change

The complex execution of the challenge across three zones demands that teams are highly aware of the behaviours being projected into the challenge as the task becomes more challenging and the deadline looms.  A balanced approach is required to ensure behaviours are aligned for good planning and smooth execution despite unexpected changes.


Overcoming Task Overload

The team is overloaded with challenges, but must quickly plan and prioritise how they will actually go about attacking the challenges.  Failure to use good systems, cross checks and teamwork will lead to teams falling into the activity trap and becoming task focused at the expense of the bigger picture objective of customer focus.


Bigger Picture Thinking

All sub teams must co-operate to win.  If we provide all teams with an overall united challenge or outcome, but leave temptations to focus only upon the execution of their own team objective only, issues of Big Picture versus Micro thinking will come into play as teams need to address not only their own project, but also those of other teams to ensure overall success.


Improve Execution

The winning approach to the challenge will require not only the great plans and systems that teams will devise, but they must be followed through into effective and timely execution if the ideas and approaches are to be converted into real and workable outcomes.  Good teams will follow a model such as Plan – Brief – Execute and De-Brief throughout.


Fun and Motivation

The challenge is a high energy, high interaction and high fun challenge.  Teams have a great deal of fun, and motivate one another a great deal towards completion within the timeframe permitted.



Changes to technical information, deadlines and other mission critical elements can be injected at various times to mirror real world issues and themes.  Failure to quickly adapt to the changes will result in losses and adverse outcomes for the team.



Internal and external communication will be essential as teams need to interpret and then effectively communicate information that is critical to making sure the diverse elements of the project come together in the right way for the desired end result.  Failure to communicate effectively will result in confusion and bad execution.



Within teams there is a high degree of networking as people work closely together to get the project done.  Networking between teams can also be facilitated if we design the activity to require co-operation between teams for common objectives or shared outcomes.




Re- Enforce Conference Content

Team, company and product related themes and issues can easily be incorporated into the event as either a focus for the project itself or subtly integrated throughout various activity categories.





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