created by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council
Activities for Transforming Teams
and Igniting Change
ATTIC is a collection of tools, games, and activities to inspire innovation, teamwork and engagement in health care settings.

Counting Together

Not all activities work better when you try very hard and push them along. Sometimes, it is better to go slow to go fast, and providing gentle attention to something can get a task done more quickly by allowing you to be more adaptive.

Download Activity Worksheet

  • 10 minutes
  • Groups of 10-20
  • None

  • Source: Adapted from Eye Openers

What to do

  1. Get participants to stand in a circle.
  2. Ask the group to collectively count from 1 to 20 out loud, with each member of the group saying only one number at a time. So, one person will start with “one” and someone else in the group will say “two”.
  3. It is important to note that participants cannot set a particular order in which they speak, and cannot communicate to plan the order in which they speak.
  4. At any point in time, if two people speak at the same time, the group needs to start counting from “one” again.
  5. Continue until you make it from 1 to 20 without any overlap of participants speaking at the same time. Make sure everyone has a chance to contribute at least once.


Often when situations are vague, people want to control things and set rules to structure how they happen. Sometimes, trying very hard to succeed puts pressure on the process and can actually be counter-productive. However, not setting rules can often result
in a messy or unpredictable process. Even though you might get to 20 quickly when you set rules, doing so misses the point of this exercise. The key is learning to be comfortable with ambiguity and letting a process/solution emerge naturally on its own.

  • How did it feel to let the process emerge organically?
  • What happened when it didn’t work?
  • What happened when it worked?
  • How can letting a process emerge on its own help in the work we do?
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