RAD – In 10 Minutes!


RAD (aka the Leadership Quandry!) is a coaching game to demonstrate how intermediation can affect communication, accuracy, and speed of decisions. Especially useful for the Leader’s Quandry, it’s a great way to get workshops involved, interested, and laughing, and is very popular in leadership and coaching training.

This exercise is Creative Commons licenced and free to use – you can download it as a PDF at the bottom. Recommended equipment:

People! It works well with 4-6 people, although larger groups split produces best results (and usually a lot of amusement).

Sharpies (multi coloured works well!)

Pieces of A4 paper or Post-Its at a pinch

Whiteboard or Flipchart

The aim of the game is simple: to produce as accurate a rendition of a “decision” in the form of a picture as possible within time limits and the chain of intermediation (I am currently working on a way to play the game remotely).

The rules are likewise simple:

Round 1

Line up participants. The first people to go are the “front line” who have gathered the data and worked on it. Each successive person represents a link in the chain of command, i.e. intermediation (management). The final person is the Decisionmaker, who has to produce an accurate decision using the data from those before them (this could be colour, use, or anything).

Hidden from the others, show a picture to the first person on each team in detail. This should be something with good detail and clarity for them that they can comprehend.

Each person in line will have a few seconds to look at the previous picture, and then a timebox to draw it themselves on a post it note/paper. No one else should see the pictures.


The first person has 60 seconds to look and draw

The second has 10 seconds to look and 15 seconds to draw

The next, 8, the next, 6, the next 4, and it remains at 4 until the last

The last person has 2 seconds, and 10 to draw it on a flip chart for all to see!

Now compare first drawing to the last! Note the decisions that were made (what to include or not) to summarise in the time; the communication of the data; the speed of depiction. What is the result? (This can produce some very loud laughter, be warned!)

Round 2 (Optional)

The first person draws picture, divides into smaller pieces

An agreed upon core part is shown to the last person, and they have 20 seconds to draw an image based on what they see for 3 seconds.

If they feel they need more, they can trade some of the drawing seconds for another piece of the whole (say 2 seconds per part).

This should be much more accurate, and faster, and often there is more detail.

Tips for Facilitation/Debrief


There are no wrong results, so have fun! Afterwards take some time for a Q&A.

  • What do they notice? What happened when the others were involved?
  • How does intermedition affect a decision? (reductionism. Summarisation. Interpretation. Manipulation (agendas, managing up!).

Consider and discuss the meanings and relevance of any of the following with regards to your group:

Context, Forecasting, Granularising, Summaries, Intermediation, Disintermediation, Delegation, Interpretation, Leadership, Strategy, Tactics, Communication, Retrospective Coherence, accuracy, long-term, short-term, stakeholders, shareholders, speed, haste, caution, perfection, fit for purpose, data, failure, success, outcomes, objectives, obstacles, agendas, managing up, politics, workload, trust, honesty, relationships, opportunity, availability, emergence, adaptability, focus, drive, patterns, and what decisions are; also experience, inattentional blindness, too little knowledge, and the what, why, how and whens

  • Be ready with examples of any of these you’ve seen, or be prepared to help contextualise them to what the attendees have experienced.
  • Discuss the process, swap up the order of people, enjoy the methods!
  • Don’t be strict in what happens; this may differ workshop to workshop!
  • Remember this is not a once-off! This represents a consistent “sanity check”. Strategy is spread out over time and space.
  • Allow some time for the play, but maintain pace and energy!
  • It’s fine for this to be longer than mentioned, and it can be run multiple ways and varied.
  • Try to pick pictures that are not too simple, not too complex, and not immediately guessable (emoticons, for example!). Images that translate easily between cultures are also recommended
  • Have enough paper and pens!
  • Allow time for mapping to individual contexts and decisions they have seen or made in the past, or will in the near future.

This shows the power of making decisions without intermediation. When we have intermediation, the people between us and the data often change it (knowingly or unknowingly), affecting our decisions which can have an amplified effect long-term, especially for strategy.