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"Who's got a dollar?" Exercise

Most people do not have a very good feel for their own personal level of trust. "Who's got a dollar", is a good initial exercise to get newly forming team members to start thinking about their own personal level of risk taking and trust. Here's how it works. The coach stands up and asks the team "who's got a dollar," waiting patiently, eventually someone reaches into their pocket or purse and comes out with a dollar bill. The coach walks over asks for the dollar and holding the bill together with the giver, asks the giver "What are your hopes and aspirations for this company or organization? In other words, what kind of a place would you like this company or organization to become?" When the giver has answered the question, the coach walks over to another person and hands them the dollar asking the recipient the same question, and listening to their answer. Next, the coach asks the group, "Who's got a ten dollar bill?" More fidgeting and up pops a ten dollar bill. The same question is asked of the giver, and then of the recipient of the ten dollar bill. Now, the coach asks, "Who's got a twenty dollar bill?" Again the question is asked and transfer of money takes place. At this point the coach stops, asks for the money to be returned to its rightful owners, and explains the importance of trust to the performance of teams. The coach asks each person to silently reflect on their thoughts and feelings about taking risk and trusting that the money would be returned while the exercise was in progress. Did you volunteer your money, that is, take risk. How did you feel? A little sheepish? What about when the ante was upped to ten dollars? Twenty? Did you think the volunteers were foolish? We may not all be as trusting as we thought.

The coach should recognize that the question about hopes and aspirations for the company or organization was a ruse intended to give the team something besides making a trust decision to think about while the exercise was in play. However, recognizing that one essential element of High Performance Teams is that they share a common vision, it is useful to point out the similarities in each giver and recipient's answer. In fact this exercise can form the basis for a team starting to develop a shared vision.

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