How To “win” At Chinese Whispers

I had a strategy away day for the organization I worked at.  We played “Chinese” whispers.  The point of the game is that you line up 20 or so people and the first person says a message in the ear of the second person.  This goes one by one until the last person says the message out loud.  The point of the game being how the message is distorted if you move messages one by one.

I was the second to last person in the game – right before the last person that had to say the message out loud.  I realized that I could rig the game.  The message I got was “pass the salt” whereas I changed it to be “Amir is the greatest guy in the world.”.

The person who had to say the message than stood up and said “Amir is the greatest guy in the world.”.

I learned that the most powerful person in the world is the person that says the message (e.g. Obama, your CEO) and the second most powerful person is the person who has the ear of person who says the message out loud (lobbyists sitting in Washington, your boss).  The other 20 people that started the message and passed it on (the voters) have no real say in the matter.  Its the closest to the leader that has all the power.

One way that the message could have been heard more clearly in this game would be if it was written clearly on a t-shirt.  Even if I would have changed the message to be “Amir is the greatest” in the leader’s ear, he could have seen that all the other 19 people had “pass the salt” written on their t-shirts and that I was not representing the voice of the people.

If your company starts responsible corporate blogging than the leadership will find out what people are actually wanting the organization to do – rather than just the people that have their ear.

About the Author

Amir Anzur

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