Team Building Activity: TP Shuffle

As facilitators, our challenge is to look for activities and challenges that would cultivate our participants’ growth and, in effect, their organization’s growth as well.

Among the mind-boggling activities and near-impossible challenges, one of them is what is known as the Totem Pole Shuffle (or Telephone Pole Shuffle, Teepee Shuffle or simply TP Shuffle). Of course we learned this activity from someone else, so we don’t really claim any ownership or originality.

team building activity tp shuffle
OutsourceSG employees do TP shuffle, July 2014

Here's how TP shuffle is done:


A plank of wood perhaps, an elevated space wide enough for one person to stand on but long enough for a group of people to stand in line, or even a 2-3 inch webbing rope.

Number of Participants:

8 or more (as long as the elevation could accommodate such numbers)


Arrange yourselves according to the facilitator’s decree. Facilitator can get creative here. He could use birthdays, alphabetical arrangements of names, height, or even shoe size. A sample is described in the instruction section.


  1. Each individual would be asked to think of an animal
  2. During the challenge, they are asked to speak as to the sound of their animals
  3. They are only allowed to step on the designated area
  4. If an individual speaks aside from their animal sound, the group goes back to their original places
  5. They also go back if someone steps or made contact outside the designated area

Possible debriefing questions for the TP shuffle exercise are:
  1. How did communication play a role in this challenge?
  2. Were you able to arrange yourselves accordingly? How?
  3. What did you do to achieve such feat?

Of course, CTFN doesn’t just do activities just for the heck of it. We always do our activities according to the demographics of the participants, the venue, the time, and all of such things just to maximize the growth potential of both the people and their organization. Too much diversity in your organization? Any conditions that you should always take for consideration? Problems with looking for a venue? Then look no further, we here at Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators’ Network could provide and attend to your needs.

  • The instructions for this activity was recreated by the Learning and Development Division of the Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators Network . Led by Philipp Chen Tan, other members of the division are Kevin Johnrey Sosas, Paulo Frangelyco Magallon, and Marc Julius Rizada.
  • CTFN does not claim ownership of this activity. For a list of references used to recreate activity instructions, please visit our Directory of Activities page.

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