Broken Telephone

Broken telephone is a game in which players form a line and the first player comes up with a message. The message is then whispered to the next player’s ear. This cycle repeats itself until reaching the end of the line. The last person then announces the message to the entire group.

What makes this game fun to play is that the message becomes distorted each time it’s passed on. The larger the group, the more errors accumulate, which results in a signficantly different message than what the first player came up with.

Though broken telephone is just a game, we play it all the time. As a product manager, I play this game often. Ideally, the sender and receiver should communicate directly to each other so details are not lost but sometimes it’s not feasible. Engineers can’t spend all their time conducting user interviews. Similarily, customer support, sales, and marketing need to understand the new product that was built.

But it’s important to distinguish when broken telephone is necessary and when it isn’t. And when it is necessary, how to make the telephone unbroken.

Where are you playing broken telephone?

October 13, 2020

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