First of all, they're not pipe cleaners. They're too scrawny to be pipe cleaners. Too short to be pipe cleaners. There's no wire. And they stick to each other and to the wall, or to the whiteboard, or to the window, or to just about any clean, smooth surface you can think of - except water.
And, yes, you can twist them together and make sculptures. But you can also stick them together and make sculptures. And you can kindof draw with them - and therein lies the executive-level, team-building relevance of it all.
Consider the following scenario: twelve executives who are about to engage in a difficult task that will require creativity, collaboration and a good sense of humor.
Distribute a pack of Wikki Stix to each person in the team. Ask them to make two shapes out of their Wikki Stix. Shapes can be flat or three dimensional. Shapes can made from one or several Wikki Stix.
Then, have them take turns sticking their shapes on the whiteboard. If possible, they should try to join their shape to some one else's shape. If not, they can place their shape somewhere else on the whiteboard.
Players are awarded two CPs (conceptual points) for adding to an existing shape, two more points for independent thinking for starting a new shape, and 200 for joining two shapes together.
Play two rounds, or until noone has any Wikkis to stick. Then play a final "editorial" round, inviting each person to take a turn moving a stuck Wikkii from its stuck place to another. Finally, together, give the completed work a title, and take a digital photo of it.
Oddly enough, this simple exercise sets the stage for some real work - establishing a precedent for individual and group creativity, for true collaboration, and for gentle, supportive humor.
Or, you could play something like Redondo. Each executive has a sheet of paper and set of 8 Wikkis. Each makes a Wikki-work on the paper, bending a Wikki Stick into some kind of image or meaningless doodle, and sticking it on the paper. When finished, each executive passes the completed work to the next executive, who adds one more Wikki. And so on and so on until there are no more Stix to stick. As a last turn, each executive makes up a title for the completed masterwork, and writes it down on the paper. Finally, they take turns showing the completed works, while reading the title. And constructive hilarity ensues. If you find a need for a second round, ask the players to remove the Stix from the titled sheets of paper, and then, one Wikki at a time, see if they can create a new image that corresponds to the title on each sheet.
Or, have each player use a pen or pencil to make a starting doodle or two, and then pass the papers around, using the Wikki Stix to add to the doodle.
All of which to say, though ostensibly designed for children, Wikki Stix, in the hands of a creative facilitator, become a powerful tool for helping a team develop its collaborative powers.
"Years ago when I had a Wikki Stix wall in my office people would add to it sequentially and check in with it periodically. It became a group work in progress (although the group members were anonymous to each other). The ever changing work of art was quite creative and fun. For example: One person would "draw" a face in outline, another person would add a face looking into the first face, someone else would come up with a "word balloon" and get the two people talking. Or someone would draw a figure and another person would put flowers in the figure's hand."