The Human Knot.

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readJul 28, 2021


What does this remind you of?

(It’s not kinky or weird — I promise)

I love these images from wikihow for it- brilliant and hilarious

This is a neat little exercise to get people thinking — in pre- or hopefully post-pandemic times…

All you need to do is to get people into groups of at least six to eight (more is ok) and have everyone hand grasp one other hand in a complex way across the whole group — then, without letting go of hands, they have to untangle. Gently, of course.

When one team achieves it, they can go and advise the other teams (which won’t help).

The debrief is the interesting part:

— It’s uncomfortable — closer, more challenging, nervous laughter
— sometimes got worse before it got better
— sometimes got better before it got worse
— all perspectives needed
— all connected
— when it got better in one place it might have got worse in another
— you have to be a good sport
— you have to trust each other
— even one person really resisting blocks the whole system
— there’s no ‘god’s eye view’ — someone on a stepladder couldn’t have given instructions to make it better
— the experts who’ve done it elsewhere didn’t really help (though there seem to be some useful rules of thumb)
— some people end up facing out, some facing in
— it’s possible to cheat

I find this a brilliant exercise for groups of senior leaders trying to work together. It’s a lot deeper than it might appear on the surface.

Why is it so useful, do you think?