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Subarctic Survival Situation

Work | Simulations and Competency-Based Assessments | Organisational Development | Team Functioning

The Subarctic Survival Situation provides a unique opportunity to quickly and objectively measure whether your group is achieving synergy. Using the teamwork activity to demonstrate the elusive concept, synergy occurs when the interactive efforts of two or more people produce a solution that is superior to their independent solutions. By measuring the quality of both individual and team performance on the single task of ranking 15 items, groups are allowed to quickly calculate the extent to which they are fully utilising their resources—and doing so in a way that achieves synergy and enhances team development. The activity has been developed in such a way to teach teams how to improve problem-solving through learning the interpersonal (people) and rational (task) skills and behaviors that lead to successful teamwork.


"It is approximately 2:30 p.m., October 5, and you have just crash-landed in a float plane on the east shore of Laura Lake in the subarctic region of the northern Quebec-Newfoundland border. Your task is to rank 15 items salvaged from the plane in the order of their importance to your team's survival.”

Set in an unfamiliar location, this activity takes the participants outside of their organisational roles and areas of expertise to a situation where only their synergistic problem-solving skills will help them to survive.

Scores are generated by comparing individual and team rankings to those provided by the Canadian Armed Forces 413 Transport & Rescue Squadron. Comparisons between individual and team scores indicate whether the teams achieved synergy by building on the knowledge and skills of their members.



This activity works well as an icebreaker, team activity, pre-/post-test after an intervention for any organisation or team focused on:

  • Team building
  • Team development and collaboration
  • Team problem-solving and decision-making
  • Team communication


All team members first individually rank the 15 items on the system, on their own devices. A team discussion is then facilitated, after which the team then submits their ranking of the 15 items. The online system then scores both the individual and team ranks in real-time during the activity, providing feedback on the correct ranking of the items as well as the problem-solving and decision-making style of the team and whether or not they have achieved synergy.


JVR Psychometrics welcomes the opportunity to partner with clients in conducting studies using the Subarctic Survival Situation in their organisations.

Basic info



Age range

Individuals 18 years and older

Administration time

2 hours

Comparison group


Language availability


Scoring options

User Portal

Integrated report options


Additional info

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