Skip to main content

Company Picnic

Field of application

Intercultural training

Resume / Brief description


Company Picnic is a role-playing game for a whole group, which involves everyone and has great expressiveness. This activity presents a variant of an improvisation game.

Target group





Colleagues of the same company or work team

Colleagues working in intercultural contexts

Professionals of different area

Group size

This activity should involve a minimum of 12 participants. The ideal size is 25-50 participants.


Company Picnic is a role play activity for a whole group.

It focuses on justifying status-based behaviour and its consequences.




  • A set of 52 poker cards. If you have a larger number of participants, you can also use two or more sets.
  • Stopwatch.
  • Signal (whistle, sound signal, etc.)



  • 10 to 20 minutes

Implementation - Guidelines





1.       Preparation


  1. Distribute the cards.
  2. Remove the joker cards and shuffle the cards. The participants come forward and receive one card each. Everyone holds them to their forehead, face forward, so that everyone but the person can see the card. No one may look at the card before the end of the game. If someone has seen the card due to carelessness, the person returns the card and receives a replacement.
  3. Create the scenario and role assignment.
  4. Provide the following background information and instructions in your own words:

All participants work for a multinational accessories manufacturer and came together for a company picnic to celebrate a very successful first half of the year. In the following minutes you will interact with as many people as possible. Treat each person as if their status in the company is the same as the one on their forehead (two is the lowest card, ace is the highest) (two = post office, ace = CEO, king = member of the board). Their task is to give their counterpart subtle clues as to which card they have. At the same time, you have to assess the clues you receive from others about your card. Do not say anything to anyone directly about the map. And do not say anything you would not normally say.


2.       Process


Start of the role play


  • Give 4 minutes
  • Start the stopwatch


End of the role play


  • After 4 minutes you will stop the game. The participants are still not looking at their cards but should now form a line from the lowest status to the highest status. Nobody should be rebuked. When everyone is in line, the participants look at their cards to see how well they have guessed their status.


3.       Debriefing


  • Ask the participants about their feelings.
  • Ask the participants if the role play reflected real events.
  • Ask about status symbols in reality.
    • What if?
    • What if we only had one ace, but several deuces, threes?
    • What if during the role play you met your boss who had a two? 

Additional format/references


Thiagarajan, S. (2006). Thiagi´s 100 Favorite Games. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.


Thiagarajan, S. (2016). Interaktive Trainingsmethoden: Thiagis Aktivitäten für berufliches, interkulturelles und politisches Lernen in Gruppen (3. Auflage.). Schwalbach: Wochenschau Verlag.


Thiagarajan, S., & van den Bergh, S. (2020). More Interactive Training Strategies for Improving Performance. Skript for the Course “Interactive Training Strategies”, 4-6 June 2020, Winterthur, Switzerland.