Empathy Building via Serious Play

Highlight and reinforce the business value of empathy and good communication and open the door to forming tighter-knit, more productive teams.

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.

Workshop tl;dr

What: Play a board game—Rhino Rescue, by OSP and Winged Five Games—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.

Workshop Details

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.

Workshop outcomes

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:

  • Build trust and openness through empathy.
  • Build a safer space for experimentation and creativity.

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

OSP workshop: dozens of people at tables, playing board game

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:

  • Communicate better.
  • Create a collaborative culture.
  • Solve more problems.
  • Generate more ideas

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.

Workshop formats

Since 2020, we have adapted our workshop and sprint formats to a remote-first reality ... except this one.

This is an in-person, half-day workshop that combines well with other workshops to fill out a day onsite.

Closeup of OSP workshop boardgame

Sound good?

Yes, I want a workshop!