Glass Bead Games

Glass Bead Games is an exercise in active listening and generative dialogue that is a form of wisdom gym.

Glass Bead Games is a simple and at the same time in-depth exercise in collective meaning-making and “Sense-Making”. The group is divided into smaller groups of 2, 3, 4 or 5 people. A word or subject is selected. Then the participants take turns talking about this for a minute each, according to a timer. After 3-5 rounds, it’s done. Finally, there is a reflection on the conversation and up to an hour of collective sense-making afterward in larger groups.

The only rules are to:
1. Only talk when it’s your turn and listen actively when it’s not, without thinking about what to say next.
2. Avoid not using any personal pronouns like “I”, “you”, “me”, “your”, “my” etc. and instead use words like “it”; this is a way to disconnect the ego as much as possible.


This exercise has been shown to consistently put the participants in a collective “Flow-state” and then provide the fourth level of listening, what is called “Generative Dialogue” where the participants all get new insights that no one had before the exercise began.This type of exercise and workshop is grouped within the exercises that occur in a so-called “wisdom gym”. It is perfect to open a meeting or a panel, by choosing a topic to talk about, that the meeting or panel is about.

Glass Bead Games is also perfect to replace classic debates with, that do not generate any new insights to instead focus on collective problem formulation, problem-solving and learning.

Glass Bead Games can also be used to open up a classic panel with panelist first giving a “short” introduction round citing their own CVs. We can instead do a 3-4 round Glass Bead Games about the subject of the panel och go into creative flow and generative dialogue around the topic.


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