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The Nasa Exercise: Lost on the Moon
Group activity to identify and measure team processes, decision making, team roles, etc.

NOTICE: This version does NOT work with older versions of Netscape/Communicator

A minimum of 4 participants is recommended for this little exercise. (2-10 participants are allowed in this version)

The NASA exercise can illustrate several things. Some of them are:

  • The decision-making process
  • Differences between individual and group decision-making
  • Leadership in groups
  • Conflicts in groups facing a competitive task

The exercise requires no preparation - only an Internet PC with a printer connected and a pen for each participant.

Begin here:

Additional information about this activity

This Internet application was made as a part of a project focusing on efficient group/teambuilding processes. This exercise can be used to demonstrate several things. In the context of the project it is meant to be a tool to develop and evaluate the decision process.

I have seen other versions of the NASA exercise used in several diverse contexts. Psychologists at the Danish Defense's Center for Leadership use the test to evaluate cadets' abilities as a group member in a decision process. Several companies use this test or tests build on the same framework as a part of their job interviews.

Because of its wide utilization I decided to make an interactive internet version of the exercise when working on a written report at The Aarhus School of Business, Denmark, on how to increase efficiency in professional cross-cultural groups. The content in this version is based on the description/instructions in Organizational Behavior: A Diagnostic Approach - Instructor's Manual.

Exercise overview

There are 6 steps in the activity:

Estimated use of time

Step 1: Enter number of participants and their names. 1 minute
Step 2:

Print out the instructions and hand them out to all participants. Start count down.

3 minutes
Step 3:

Count down. All participants work alone.

15 minutes
Step 4:

Break. Get together in the group and start count down.

1 minute
Step 5:

Count down: Group decision.

15 minutes
Step 6:

Enter the answers and get the result.

5 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Always use the results as the basis for discussion. The length of the discussion may vary.

Why an interactive web version?

There are many very good reasons to make the NASA exercise a web application. Here are a few:

  1. The application will provide you all the information needed. - You always "have it with you."
  2. There is no need for manuals, stopwatches, photocopiers... etc. etc. You just need an internet PC with a printer connected and a pen for each participant.
  3. The process is controlled by the PC client and the web server.
  4. All answers are checked by the server.
  5. The web server does all calculations.
  6. The group members save time and can focus on group efficiency... and forget all the boring calculations.
  7. The score system in this version is improved. All scores are expressed as a percentage - 100% equals "right on". This makes the exercise even more computing demanding why using this version is an obvious advantage.
  8. The result is presented in a nice layout - ready for further discussion.

Besides those obvious reasons I learned quite a bit by making it.

  1. My abilities with PHP grew.
  2. I gained more knowledge about processing information on the Internet.
  3. Learned more about integrating client and server scripts.
  4. I think, I learned every thing there is to know about the NASA exercise, the framework behind and its utilization.
  5. I found that a well described process in an OB manual requires further structure to end up as a well functioning application process.
  6. A practical tool was created based on a theoretical background.

I hope you will find my work useful. Any of your experiences with this application has my interest. Do not hesitate to contact me. Feed back is appreciated.

Per Bang, May 2001


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