Empathy Building via Serious Play

This workshop is designed to highlight and reinforce the business value of empathy and good communication and open the door to forming tighter-knit, more productive teams.

Teams taking play seriously

The centerpiece of this workshop is a board game—Rhino Rescue, by OSP and Winged Five Games—drawing on ideas from Serious Play and modern management, and working practices like DevOps and blameless postmortems.

What: Play a board game and learn the value of empathy to improve team communication.

How: In teams, through cooperative (not competitive) gameplay, you’ll work toward a common goal while also balancing personal priorities. 

Who: New or established teams, particularly inter-departmental, cross-functional or multi-disciplinary teams who want to improve the way they work together.

Takeaways: A stronger, more productive team, with members demonstrating empathy and trust.

Applying empathy and good communication

We all have pressures, deadlines, needs, and priorities. Remembering to use empathy can be hard. It’s even harder when we’re in roles that have little to do with each other on a daily basis. This can all be compounded by (perhaps unintentionally) poor communication due to different working vocabularies and cultures.

Developer teams and business teams are a classic example where both of these factors often lead to mistrust, blame, and mutual lack of respect. This prevents—despite everyone’s best intentions—individuals, teams, and organizations from realizing our visions and delivering the value to our customers and stakeholders… no matter how smart our strategy or technology might be.

Putting ourselves in our colleagues’ shoes, and practicing good communication builds trust, great teams and products, and stronger, more productive organizations. 

Your workshop experience

First, we’ll be playing Rhino Rescue, “You and your animal friends have left the safety of your sanctuary to help save one of the last white rhinos …” The game mechanics are easy to learn, but alongside saving the rhino, each player also needs to balance a series of other priorities and complete their own personal missions. 

After the gameplay, we’ll hold facilitated retrospective discussions on our experiences with it and how they relate to achieving common goals and other everyday work situations. We’ll round out the workshop with an exercise on applying what we’ve shared and learned when we’re back on the job.


Real world experience with practicing empathy results in more empathic people and tighter-knit, more productive teams.

Back on the job, team members are able to:

This workshop empowers your team by enabling the hard but important conversations, where, as Brené Brown puts it: “Clear is Kind.”

Who is this workshop for?

This workshop is ideal for inter-departmental, cross-functional or multi-disciplinary teams.

Specifically, this workshop is for any groups or organizations who are looking to:

An ideal workshop is for 8-36 participants, where we can compare and contrast multiple Rhino Rescue gameplay experiences in the postmortem and discussion phases.


This workshop is conducted onsite. In standard format it typically runs for half a day, but each client is unique and we adapt the duration to match your needs. 

Coronavirus update: We’re not currently able to offer this workshop in-person, and it is not optimal in an online format. If you’re interested in this workshop, please get in touch to discuss options we can explore to make it work for you.

Contact us to book a workshop today!