This is an elaborate introduction to the Tinker Toy ice-breaker authored by Coff & Hatfield (2003) in JSME (Click here for full text). There are a number of slight modifications that make the exercise very valuable for different topics in a strategy course. For example
The exercise can demonstrate key features of the resource based perspective and first mover advantage by having the teams execute in waves and watch how much imitation occurs (often team stick to their planned strategy even if they watch another team fail using that plan).
- Strategy process. The discussion proceeds along the lines of what the vision, key result areas, goals and action steps ought to be. Students often focus on engineering and architecture and ignore management tasks.
- Scenario planning. Ask the students to identify what might go wrong and develop a contingency plan. Even highlighting this, they will be prone to stick to their first plan until it fails completely (something that Eisenhardt notes with respect to “slow” decision-makers).