When: THURSDAY APRIL 24, 2014





Power: it’s everywhere. What are your organization’s power structures? How does it feel to be at the top or at the bottom? Explore Power

Power: it’s everywhere. Power is an important cultural dimension, defining how we relate to and interact with each other. What are your organization’s power structures? How does it feel to be at the top or at the bottom? We’ll explore power relationships using games drawn from Augusto Boal’s  Theater of the Oppressed and Games for Actors and Non-Actors. A series of warm-up activities de-mechanizes participants and opens them up to explore freely. We proceed to a game called Colombian Hypnosis (details below); Colombian Hypnosis lets us explore using power over each other to force someone to act in a manner he didn’t anticipate. We culminate with a multitiered variation of Colombian Hypnosis that simulates the power hierarchy of a typical workplace: a CEO at the top hypnotizing (exerting power over) two EVPs, exerting power over four VPs, exerting power over eight directors, exerting power over 16 managers, exerting power over 32 workers, etc., until everyone in the room is engaged in the power structure. After each activity, we discuss how it felt to exert power, how it felt to be powerless, how the activity is similar to your work situation, etc.

Colombian Hypnosis: One actor holds her hand palm forward, fingers upright, anything between 20 and 40 centimeters away from the face of another, who is then as if hypnotized and must keep his face constantly the same distance from the hand of the hypnotiser, hairline level with her fingertips, chin more or less level with the base of her palm [her wrist]. The hypnotiser starts a series of movements with her hand, up and down, right and left, backwards and forwards, her hand vertical in relation to the ground, then horizontal, then diagonal, etc. – the partner must contort his body in every way possible to maintain the same distance between face and hand, so that the face and hand remain parallel. If necessary, the hypnotic hand can be swapped; for instance, to force the hypnotized to go between the legs of the hypnotiser. The hand must never do movements too rapid to be followed, nor must it ever come to a complete halt. The hypnotiser must force her partner into all sorts of ridiculous, grotesque, uncomfortable positions. Her partner will this put in motion a series of muscle structures which are never, or only rarely, activated. He will use certain ‘forgotten; muscles in his body. After a few minutes, the two actors change, the follower and the leader. After some more time, both can extend a hypnotising right hand, becoming leaders and followers at one and the same time.Learning Objectives

We will – Define Power as an element of culture. – Learn about the role of Power as a cultural dimension amongst people of any size organization. – Experience and internalize the feeling of Power from various levels in the power hierarchy. – Understand how Power presents itself in our work organizations.

Presentation History

The activity is well tested, the context is new. Colombian Hypnosis is a well respected game in the Theater of the Oppressed canon. Using it as a means to explore Power in work organizations is a fresh idea; Scrum Gathering would be the world debut of Power Games.


Richard KasperowskiRichard is a cool dude and Agile coach based in Boston. He’s spoken at national and international Agile conferences and facilitated Open Space events all over the world. He is perhaps best known in the Agile community for the SIX WEEK OPEN SPACE, which is the longest Open Space meeting ever attempted in the history of the world.