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Flip It

Object of Play

Often, a change in a problem or situation comes simply from a change in our perspectives.  Flip It! is a quick game designed to show players that perspectives are made, not born. We can choose to see the glass as either half full or half empty, but often when we perceive it as half full, we get better results. This game is at its best when players begin to see challenges as opportunities and to make doable suggestions around solving problems rather than just rehashing them.

Number of Players


Duration of Play

30 minutes to 1 hour

How to Play

  1. Before the meeting, hang four to eight sheets of flip-chart paper on a wall (as shown in the following figure), and on any sheet in the top row, write the name of the game.
  2. On the bottom-left sheet write the word “FEAR”.  If you’d like, spend time drawing a representation of fear on the sheets beforehand or cut out an image from a magazine that embodies it. Tell the group that Flip It is about the future—of their department, their organization, their product/service, whatever topic you have agreed on beforehand.
  3. Ask the players to quietly spend 5–10 minutes writing concerns, issues, and fears about the topic on sticky notes. Remind them to be honest about their fears because this game gives them an opportunity to reframe their fears. Collect and post the sticky notes on the FEAR sheets, which are all the sheets along the bottom row.  Discuss the content with the group and ask for volunteers to elaborate on their contributions.
  4. On the top-left sheet write the word “HOPE”. Ask the players to survey the content in the FEAR row and try to “flip” the perspectives by reframing in terms of hope.Give them 10–15 minutes to generate sticky notes that respond to the fears.
  5. With the group, collect and post the second set of sticky notes on the HOPE sheets along the top row.
  6. Discuss the content with the group and ask for volunteers to elaborate on their contributions. Ask the players to dot vote next to the hopes they can take practical action on. With the group, observe the hopes that won the most votes.
  7. Write the word “TRACTION” on another sheet of flip-chart paper. Rewrite (or remove and restick) the hopes that won the most votes on the TRACTION sheet.  Ask the players to brainstorm aloud any actionable items related to each hope. Write them down and discuss.


Because Flip It starts with FEARS, as the meeting leader you’ll need to reassure folks early on that they’re not going to wallow in their fears. They just need to spend sometime generating fears in order to gather information and get the game moving. You can model the flip-it behavior by opening the game with an example of a situation you chose to perceive one way or the other. Once the group writes down their fears and posts them on the wall, let them air any related thoughts and then spend the majority of the time flipping the fears into positive outcomes. You want the group to see concerns (even if it’s a momentary view) as a chance to be hopeful and get motivated around action.

If you’re working with a larger group or if the group generates an abundant amount of sticky notes, use the sorting and clustering technique and generate representative categories for each cluster. Then ask the group to vote on those categories and use them during the TRACTION activity. Unless directed otherwise, the issues provided by the group will likely focus on both internal and external factors. If you don’t want the play to be that all-encompassing, establish a boundary going in.

  • Optional activity: Ask for volunteers to write their initials next to the practical actions they could support. Tell them it’s not an intractable commitment, just an indication of where their interest lies.

The source of the Flip It game is unknown.