Quality Housing


Quality Housing is an involving, team-based activity in which teams first design and then produce houses according to a set of specifications.  The only materials required are 3x5 cards, markers, and clear tape.  Click here for Instructions for participants.

We designed it as a team dynamics activity, but Professor Russell Coff of the University of Wisconsin has reframed it as an experience in building strategy:  https://carpenterstrategytoolbox.com/2018/01/30/building-strategy/

The exercise evolved out an earlier exercise developed by Barbara Benedict Bunker and Lee Bolman: The Construction Company

The exercise can be run in a little as 75 minutes, though 90 to 120 minutes provides more time for both the exercise and debriefing.  The steps to run the exercise are:

1.  Provide teams a work table and materials (2 packs of 3-5 cards, 2-3 rolls of tape, 2-3 markers).

2.  Distribute the Quality Housing Instructions.  Briefly introduce the exercise and announce how much time is available for planning.  Tell participants to let you know when they are ready to produce houses, and you'll time them (assuming you use a version of the exercise that offers a bonus to the first team to market).  To time production, check to make sure a team is ready to produce, and tell them that you will count down from 5 and say, "Go!".  At the end of the production period, do a count-down from 5 again and firmly announce "Stop!".  Be prepared for teams to be startled when the time is up.

3.  Once teams have produced, have them calculate their expenses, revenues, and net income.  You can check houses against the specifications either immediately after a team produces, or after all teams have produced.  If a team produces multiple houses, test a few to see if they can be dropped 12 inches without damage.

4.  Collect the financial results from all teams (revenue, costs, net), and award the bonuses for quality and first-to-market. 

Provide teams questions for debrief, depending on your teaching goals.