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Working Together as a Team: The Island Survival Task

This is a decision-making exercise that provides an opportunity for partners to work on accepting influence and to find out how they work together as a team. The purpose of this exercise is for the partners to evaluate their ability to include their partner(s), to accept influence, and to share power. 

Time: 30 minutes: 10 minutes for the partners to do the task individually and 20 minutes for their decision-making and consensus exercise.


  • Individually, each partner will look over the individual sheet describing the survival task. 
  • Choose the 10 most important items and rank order them in order of importance, with a “1” for the most important, a “2” for the next most important, and so on. 
  • Work together on the consensus form, discussing the task and filling out the ranking together. 


Your Situation: Your cruise ship sank in the Caribbean, and the two of you awake to find yourselves on a tropical desert island. You are the only survivors, and one of you is somewhat injured. You have no real idea of exactly where you are. You think that there is some chance that people may know of the ship’s distress, but you are not sure. A storm appears to be on the way. You decide that you need to prepare to survive on this island for some time and also make sure you will rendezvous with a potential rescue party. There are many items from the ship on the beach, and you make an inventory of this stuff.

  • Two changes of clothing
  • AM-FM and shortwave radio receiver
  • Water, 10 gallons
  • Pots and pans
  • Matches
  • Shovel
  • Backpack
  • Toilet paper
  • Two tents
  • Two sleeping bags
  • Knife
  • Small life raft, with sail
  • Sun-block lotion
  • Cook stove and lantern
  • Long rope
  • Two walkie-talkie sender-receiver units
  • Freeze dried food for seven days
  • Change of clothing
  • A fifth of whiskey
  • Flares
  • Compass
  • Regional aerial maps
  • A gun with six bullets
  • Fifty packages of condoms
  • First aid kit with penicillin
  • Oxygen tanks

Come together and form a single plan and rank the 1 through 10 items again as partners.


Questions to ask yourselves afterwards:

  • What tactics did you use that were influential?
  • How do you INCLUDE or EXCLUDE the other person?
  • How do you work together as a team?
  • What was the emotional tone in the discussion?
  • Were you having fun? If not, what emotions did you feel?


Rate the interaction the two of you had during this exercise:

  • Were you both effective at influencing each other? Notes about influence attempts and the results:
  • Were you both effective at being able to accept influence? Notes about accepting influence:
  • Was there a dominance struggle or competitiveness? Notes about competitiveness or dominance struggle:
  • Did anyone sulk or withdraw? Notes about withdrawal:
  • What were the emotions and actions like during this task? Notes:
    • Anger:
    • Sadness:
    • Tension:
    • Contempt (one person believing he or she is better than the other):
    • Amusement or laughter:
    • Interest:
    • Affection (appreciations):
    • Kindness:
  • Did you both feel included in this task? Notes:
  • Did you both work well as a team? Notes:
  • Did you each have fun? Notes: