Words in Sentences Org Design Exercise

The attached documents (below) contain the instructions to distribute to students and the raw material strips for the exercise. The attached PowerPoint file contains a list of what to prepare before class (slide 1) and the slides for class, including discussion and wrap up slides. It is best to go over the directions in detail in class as, unfortunately, students often do not read the directions very carefully; the verbal overview also gets them thinking about setting up a divisional vs. a functional structure for the task. It really is worth stressing the fact that they need to set up a structure. Choose an external quality control group at the beginning of class — Purposefully pick students who are quick and pay attention to detail for this task, as it will have to be completed in a short period of time.Overall, what tends to happen is that both groups improve from trial 1 to trial 2, however the functional group improves by a much greater amount and generally has fewer QC errors (i.e. words used repeatedly). Often, their sentences are more entertaining as well. Have the QC group read out some of their favorite sentences. Notes:

  • In smaller classes, one may not get such a clear story as both groups may be about equally productive and their structures look pretty similar — there is only so much that you can do organizationally with 5-8 students per team. It takes teams of about 15+ students to see the difference
  • This might also be extended to talk about learning curves, although it would be nice to run 3 trials to show learning curve effects (you’d need a longer class session for that).
  • Normally this exercise can be run in an 80 minute class session, but time is tight, so you have to keep the groups on schedule (particularly the QC group).

Materials for the exercise:


Contributed by Mason CarpenterMason Carpenter

11 thoughts on “Words in Sentences Org Design Exercise

  1. The links for 5WIS1 5WIS2 5WIS3 5WIS4 are not working anymore. Could you please send the documents needed to carry out the exercise to me? Thanks!

      • I am sorry, but I still get a page full of
        Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

      • Oh what a fool. I thought the sentence was “I work for an organization” as in the example. Sorry now I am realizing that these are the actual exercise sentences.
        Sorry about this.

  2. I just used this exercise for my Professional MBA class and they really enjoyed it. The exercise helped them to recognize some of the inefficiencies associated with both structures.

  3. This is terrifically helpful for me. It was suggested by a colleague that I do this exercise, however, he didn’t provide details. I did a web site search and found your blog. Really appreciate your generosity and the benefit of your experience!

  4. Pingback: Words, more or less | Journey of a Blogvelist

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