The Tinker Toy (C) Exercise

Not open for further replies.


An Early Cover
Trusted Information Resource
Work together in school

wealthbuilder said:
Then why does our society (education & work environments) set us up to sub-optimize our actions and results? Wouldn't it be better to "cheat" - work together, even on school exams to get the best results - ultimately learn the correct answers and solutions!!!? Cooperation should become the desired norm. . .for us to maximize our learning and acheive the best results! Even on the Final Exam. . .
Interesting. Way back when I was in Grade 6 math (and dinosaurs walked the Earth), I was a called "fast learner". The teacher assigned each fast learner responsibility for a "slow learner". Our task was to ensure they passed the exam. Also kept us out of trouble and socialized us. I'm pretty sure such an execellent teacher would be fired now a days.

When I took my MBA, I was hooted down and criticised for saying "that's a good idea, let's see if we can build on it" during a case study. A good old MBA knows it's gotta be your way or no way! I was already ruined by my Quality ways of thinking.

Hey, didn't the Donald just announce bankruptcy yet again? Let's fire him!
Elsmar Forum Sponsor

Anita Alston

Tinker Toy Exercise

Cooperation is on a higher-functioning plane than competition; is it not?
Is our competitive nature a byproduct of our fright,flight, fight inbred (adrenal glandular response) nature? That physiological response may have evolved in nature in order for the species to be adequate hunters and gatherers. I believe that cooperation requires more discipline and internal resource (like good communication skills and the like) than a purely competitive nature. Also, personality traits come into play. Some folks are just "born leaders" and take-charge, while others sit back, listen, contemplate, and may or may not come through with a great idea and cooperative skills in the end.
Read about Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic for demonstrated leadership and the value of good teamwork - which, I believe is inspired not only through verbiage, but through modeling of the behavior desired, by our leaders. Too many managers (including one to whom I currently report) play the us-versus-them game. How destructive to morale and self (as well as team) growth, that type of modeling can be! The Tinker Toy exercise showed us a subtle kind of teamwork that could have been achieved by reading outside the box, so to speak :) Anita Alston

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
So how did it go? I have not yet checked in with Denise.

Let's see - from past experience and theory:

1. At least one structure collapsed.

2. The two groups competed making two separate structures rather than cooperated to build one large structure.

3. Pandemonium ensued when you were told you could not talk to each other during construction.

4. Much interesting discussion ensued.

Jamie Morris

Steve Prevette said:
Denise Brooks led the Tinker Toy Exercise this past week. The class was given two cans of tinker toys and told to build the tallest structure possible (this exercise comes from the Deming Electronic Network).

How did it go? Was the task accomplished? Comments from last year's students are available below.

What are the implications of our tendency to compete versus cooperate? This is certainly fodder for a final exam essay . . .
The tinker toy exercise is another good demonstration of team diagnostic skills and team dynamics when there are time demands, competitive demands, and cooperation demands. In our group, I saw the participants change roles from passive to active more than once during the exercise. But as the planning phase of the exercise wound down, the increased pressure to develop a workable plan led to a couple of participants assuming a more active role (leader role). As we moved to the second phase of the exercise, which required construction of the tallest structure possible, the time limit of one minute, the change in location, and the change in directions made us realize that our planning had not adequately addressed these issues. Additionally, both groups fell for "the trap" in the exercise and assumed that since we had been divided into groups, we had to compete. We overlooked the fact that there was no stated rule about working together as one large group and pooling our resources to meet the objective of "building the tallest structure" - DUH. Therefore, we went on our "merry" competitive way trying to better the other team. I would equate this lesson to "stove piping" in organizations and companies. Groups focus on their own goals and objectives and lose sight of the overall objective of the organization. The competition that results in the organization diminishes the capability of that organization. The result can be a stark realization that if we had worked together to meet the company objective instead of competing with each other for visibility and self-satisfaction, the company would still be in business - OUCH.

Lori Beeler

Tinker Toy Game

Hi Everyone,
Denise is a wonderful speaker and I enjoyed the game. Our group managed to build the tallest structure unfortunately the base was not compelete within the one minute time frame so it would not free stand, darn. We did plan and discuss and work well together, with one individual acting as the "manager". We had a great plan, just not enough time.

One thing I noticed after our tower would not stand alone was one member had the basic plan to start with, after only a few minutes and had we stuck with that one instead of throwing out more ideas I believe our structure would have stood.

What made our group continue to bat around more ideas when that one was adequate? Then overlook it in the end? We appeared to get so wrapped up in builing the best mouse trap we did not recognize we already had a workable solution.

Lori Beeler
MBA Student

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
The optimal solution

I did play with Tinker Toys a lot as a child, and my undergraduate is in Structural Engineering. The optimal solution with a single can of toys appears to be to make a square base with red sticks around the outside. Then put 4 yellows as diagonals to a center spool. This makes a very flat and rigid base. I have found you can then built a spire that is just one stick plugged into another using the cylinders and the remaining spools as connectors. The spire is plugged into the center spool of the base. It will stand about 8 feet high on its own. To meet the time limit, one person builds the base, and two or three people build sections of the spire, then plug them all together.

Usually I find the failures are due to a lack of foundation. An interesting parable, eh?

Lori Beeler

Tinker Toy Exercise

Wow, I hope the rest of my team reads the cove ... that was almost our plan except we had a double base and that is what took so long to get together. The other half of the team did a great job on building the was about 8' tall with a nice "flower" on the top, we on the base missed out. Next time!!
Lori Beeler


tinker toys

Denise had some great stories! This was my first experience with Tinker Toys, I was deprived as a child. Needless to say, it was hard for me to visualize how the structure would look without being able to 'test fit' the parts. We did manage to rough out a plan of action, so when the time came for the actual exercise, we were able to get a good start on it. I wanted to use the can for the exercise but got voted down; in hindsight, it would have been incorrect since we were to make the tallest 'freestanding' structure. How many times has that happened though where a manager may have wanted to do something that may be incorrect, and since they are the manager, don't listen to the rest of the group?
Not open for further replies.
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
J CE Marking for vibrator personal pleasure toy CE Marking (Conformité Européene) / CB Scheme 16
A Toy manufacturing company expansion project Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 2
A Toy Company Doesn't Conform With CE Marking Requirements CE Marking (Conformité Européene) / CB Scheme 9
G How to conduct a Toy Recall (College Question) Customer and Company Specific Requirements 2
E New EU 2009/48/EC Toy Directive on Strict Product Documentation Design and Development of Products and Processes 2
ScottK Don't Eat the Aqua Dots! (Another Toy Recall) Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 24
8 Activity Sampling Exercise Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 11
Wes Bucey Wes's exercise regimen Funny Stuff - Jokes and Humour 7
N Reusing the ID of superseded forms in a Document Consolidation exercise? Document Control Systems, Procedures, Forms and Templates 4
drgnrider Suggestions for conducting a Spill Clean-up Exercise Miscellaneous Environmental Standards and EMS Related Discussions 8
E Problem Solving using PDCA/A3 - Tips & Exercise Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 3
W Does anyone have a Training Exercise for 5 Whys Problem Solving? Problem Solving, Root Cause Fault and Failure Analysis 11
M Team Work Exercise examples to illustrate the importance of Team Work Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 1
H Bakery Product Recall Exercise Plan Quality Manager and Management Related Issues 1
L Quality Table Top Exercise - ISO9001 Awareness Training to the operators Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 13
F Root Cause Analysis Problem Case Study for Exercise? Problem Solving, Root Cause Fault and Failure Analysis 10
H TPM Game/Simulation/Exercise Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 3
kmyers CAPA (Corrective Action Preventive Action) Training Exercise Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 2
bobdoering Systems Thinking Exercise Imported Legacy Blogs 0
8 SMED Classroom Exercise to show operators the importance of SMED Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 10
E 5S exercise for in-class training of production personnel Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 16
Q Material, Links & Information on some basic exercise on PC DMIS & CMM Metrology Inspection, Prints (Drawings), Testing, Sampling and Related Topics 2
bio_subbu ISO 13485 Nonconformance Identification Exercise ISO 13485:2016 - Medical Device Quality Management Systems 5
P Six Sigma Case Studies and Exercise material for practice purpose. Six Sigma 12
M Process Capability Training Exercise Capability, Accuracy and Stability - Processes, Machines, etc. 3
W A Diagnostic Exercise to Fix Problems - An Article Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 0
C DFM Training exercise or game - Seeking Training - Internal, External, Online and Distance Learning 3
Marc A Good Diet and Exercise Plan Funny Stuff - Jokes and Humour 2
C Exercise and Anger Management Coffee Break and Water Cooler Discussions 6
R Lean Training Class Exercise - Working with a local college on training materials Lean in Manufacturing and Service Industries 2
Y Team Building Exercise - Training that boosts group motivation level Misc. Quality Assurance and Business Systems Related Topics 2
Geoff Cotton APQP Benchmarking Exercise - Help Wanted Benchmarking 5
K FMEA for a floating, plastic duck - University exercise - help! FMEA and Control Plans 5

Similar threads

Top Bottom