Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Activity Overview

Personal change is crucial as a foundation of leadership development. This exercise takes participants through a series of discrete steps that will occur as part of the change process


  • To provide a framework for thinking about change as a critical element in your corporate and personal lives.
  • To showcase how to use metaphors as part of your thinking process.
  • To gather participant ideas regarding change.
  • To offer insight regarding the stages of change.
  • To determine what change stage each participant is currently in as he/she shares a personal change.
  • To understand that risk is part of change.

Training Methods

  • Discussion
  • Movement
  • Storytelling Metaphor
  • Reflection
  • Presentation

Equipment Needed

  • Two flipcharts. One should have a prepared list of answers for the caterpillar/butterfly paradox referred to in Step 2.
  • Markers
  • Masking tape 
  • Balloons (long shape, to mimic caterpillars)
  • Ball of yarn that gets pulled apart on the floor to make the Stages-of-Change shape
  • Index cards
  • Signs that denote the Stages of Change (see list in Step 3)
  • Diagram of the stages of change
  • Toy caterpillars and butterflies

Room Setup

The room has to be large enough to accommodate the large Stages-of-Change shape created from the yarn. Participants can sit wherever they wish at the sides of the room. They will be getting up later.

This engaging, lively and fun activity is most suitable when you want participants to get up and move around. Try to use it before everyone has to begin adjusting to a dramatic change (downsizing, restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, relocation, or any other major corporate change that will affect people who must continue to work in the midst of turmoil or uncertainty). Before you begin the module, hang butterflies on the wall and drape the yarn into the appropriate shape.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. As the facilitator introduce the topic of personal change by asking the following questions:
    – When I say the word CHANGE, what comes to mind?” (Write down the answers on the flipchart.)
    – Is it helpful to divide change into personal change and professional change? Give reasons as to why or why not?
    – You might notice some butterflies around the room. Any ideas as to why they are hung up?
    – Here’s a balloon for you. Please blow it up and tie it. (See if anyone makes a connection between the caterpillar and the butterfly as you show some tiny caterpillar toys.)
    – Yes, caterpillars evolve into butterflies. Have you ever seen it happen?
  2. Tell the following story and lead a discussion about its meaning:
    There are two caterpillars, sitting on the leaves of a tree chatting. A beautiful butterfly floats by. One caterpillar turns to the other and says, “You’ll never get me up on one of those butterfly things.”

    Ask participants to consider the meaning of this story and look for some important perspectives. Gather responses and put them on one of the flipcharts. Repeat the story if that helps to get more responses. Then say, “When I ask people to discuss the meaning of the story, I receive many different responses, including the ones on this flipchart.” Show the one or two sheets on the flipchart with these ideas:
    – Caterpillars have no need to fly. They are already well grounded!
    – Caterpillars can eat anything green, and they find food everywhere.
    – Butterflies are a stage beyond caterpillars.
    – Butterflies have to fly to get anywhere.
    – Caterpillars can crawl and climb.
    – It’s easier for butterflies to develop perspective than it is for caterpillars.
    – We can attempt to resist, but we will suffer stress and difficulty.
    – You have to stop being a caterpillar in order to become a butterfly.
    – Change is not always a conscious decision. Change will occur, inevitably.
    We can choose to be active participants in change. (Or not, maybe.) We go through stages of development, and butterflies are one stage closer to death. Risk avoidance is normal. Change is often actively resisted. Change is inevitable. Caterpillars don’t like wings. Caterpillars must hate flying since they don’t try. 

    All of us have the capability to generate ideas and possibilities. Most of us would agree that being a butterfly is a “higher existence” than remaining a caterpillar. The story also links to some key learning points on change. Any ideas?” Try to elicit the following ideas:
    Although we often resist change and risk, it is inevitable!
    Change will occur. We can choose to be active participants and go with the flow, or we can attempt to resist and suffer the stresses.  Each of us goes through many stages of development; it is a process that occurs repeatedly, over time.

    Our possibilities are endless! Choosing to change is an important part of improvement.
     We need to deal with the sticky fact that most people find uncomfortable. But you have to transform in order to change, and that will involve going through the discomfort of being less and less a caterpillar while you are in the process of becoming a butterfly. Expect the transformation process to be somewhat uncomfortable. And it certainly requires some degree of risk! 

  3. Introduce a change model. Instruct participants,  to now focus on personal change. Personal change is often a response to a crisis. according to William Bridges, it is our responses—our reactions and our emotions—that make the transition of change so difficult.

    On the floor, you can see a modified ‘grief’ cycle depicted with yarn. Many theorists suggest that our response to change goes through stages that are much like the stages of death and dying. Spare a few minutes to hand the signs around the room in the order you believe represents the progressive cycle of change—the way you believe is real.  Direct the group’s attention to the signs sitting on the side which are not in order.  Ask people to arrange them in order. Unless they are drastically wrong, don’t correct the order of how they arranged the stages. It is the process of doing it together that is the focus. (The correct order is Crisis, Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Guilt, Panic, Depression, Resignation to Situation, Acceptance of Reality, Building, and Opportunity: Growth and New Directions)

  4. Instruct all participants to have a seat and command them to write on the index card three personal changes they are currently experiencing. Then choose one that you are willing to share. Allow time to do this.
  5. Tell them to, get up, walk around, and stand near the sign that best describes the stage of change that they are currently in for a particular situation. Be prepared to discuss it with a partner. Now have them in pairs and ask them to answer these questions:
    – Was this change thrust upon you? Is it clear where you were headed?
    – How are you letting go of where you were?
    – What happens when you let go of one moment before you get to the next stage?
    – What risks did you take to make that change happen?
    – What will take you to the next stage?
    – Do you have the competencies and skills to get to the next stage?
    – What do you need to move on?
    – Allow time to do this.
  6. Debrief with the whole group, but try to get the quieter people to go first.
  7. Close the module by asking, “How can you as a leader use substantial knowledge about personal change? Do you have all of the competencies you need to survive the corporate change?” Discuss these questions together.
  8. Encourage people to write in their notebooks about how they are weathering a change—a change discussed today or a change with which they are currently coping.

Activity Review

Take time shortly after conducting this activity to reflect on how it went, how engaged the participants were, and what questions they raised. Then, make notes that include how much time you actually spent on the activity.

From Caterpillars to Butterflies

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Communication, Having Fun, Leadership
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 26+ minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30
Age : Adults