Need to help a new group bond? Want an ice breaker activity for a meeting/workshop? Looking to inject some fun back into your team?
These short games are a super awesome tool for doing this, and brought a lot of laughter into a session at the Nov 2018 scrum exchange in London.
They are best explained / learnt by doing, but I’ll try to get the essence across (feel free to add comments to help explain or share other ideas):
1. Create a fake memory (Yes…and…).
Who’s it for / Purpose? Great for a group that has not been together for very long (and therefore don’t have many shared memories yet). A good energiser activity or ice breaker in a workshop / conference / training.
- Split into pairs. One person starts by saying “do you remember when …” and they add a made up scenario to the end of the sentence e.g. “Do you remember when… we went fishing”.
- The other person then replies by saying “Yes, and…” and add anything they want eg “Yes, and … that shark bit your finger!”.
- The pair now continue to create this fake memory by continuing to add to it using the “Yes, and …” principle.
- After 1 minute bring the activity to a close. Now allow the group to mix up and form into groups of 4. Repeat the activity for around a minute.
2. Pass the clap
Who’s it for / Purpose? Can be used with a new or established team, to bring team members more in tune with each others body language and non verbal signals.
- The game is done in silence.
- Stand up and form a circle. Identify one person to start.
- They look around the circle and once they receive a sign that someone is ready to receive the clap, they both raise their hands and try to clap at the exact same moment. If the timing is off then, try again until successful.
- Once successful the ‘receiver’ then becomes the ‘passer’ and looks around the circle for a sign from someone else that they are ready to receive.
- Once everyone has received / passed a clap then pause, and either bring the game to a close or repeat with the instruction to try to go a little bit faster.
NB. I would not run this more than twice in one session. When repeated over multiple sessions there is a noticeable improvement in the speed of the passing / receiving, which indicates the group have tuned in much more to each others body language and non verbal cues for passing and receiving information.
3. Create a story from nothing
Who’s it for / Purpose? Covers the premise that when you setting each other up for success, you are more likely to achieve a goal. Can be used with new teams as a bonding activity or with established teams who may be having issues with handing over work within the team.
- Form a circle.
- Ask for a random topic from one member. Ask who wants to go first. Ask someone else what direction around the circle the story will go. Start.
- Each member of the team can only say 1 word, and the objective is to complete a short story about the topic within 1 circle ( for a small group of 6 or less, go round the circle twice)
NB. Normally in the first attempt someone will throw in a totally random word that breaks the flow of the story, this provides the opportunity for the facilitator to discus with the group what the impact of that is, and whether it helped the next person in the team or slowed them down, and whether it changed the nature of the story beyond the original topic.
4. Blind Alphabet
Who’s it for / Purpose? This helps to create a calm moment for a team to pause and is about forming a deeper connection between members.
- The outcome is to say each letter of the alphabet aloud in order A-Z
- Sit or stand in a circle. Everyone close their eyes.
- Only one person can speak at once (if 2 people say a letter at the same time then you have start back at A)
- Team members are not allowed to take turns around the circle the order they are sitting. Anyone can contribute a letter at any time.
- Every team member must contribute.
NB. With a group of around 10 people this can be successfully completed in around 10-15 minutes, but as a facilitator you will need to add in some reminders for people to slow down their thinking, breathe and deliberately ‘feel’ if someone else is going to speak before jumping in. Can also be done over multiple shorter sessions.
5. Point and go
Who’s it for / Purpose? Designed to demonstrate the difference between command and control vs. self organisation of teams, plus the benefit of devolved decision making. Great for leaders who are used to being in control and telling people what to do, as this activity will be much slower and often fail with one person trying to conduct the whole thing.
Round 1 – Leader makes all the decisions
- Stand in a wide circle that would take a few seconds to walk across.
- Ask someone to be ‘Leader’. Inform them that their role is to organise and control the way the group moves.
- The game is finished when everyone in the group has moved position
- One member (A) raises their hand.
- The leader then goes to person A and points their arm towards someone else in the group (B)
- Person B says ‘Go’, and person A is allows to start walking towards person (B).
- Person B now needs to vacate their space before person A arrives, by following the pattern i.e. raise their arm and the leader then has to go to person B and point their arm at someone else in the circle (C) , and once C says “go” B walk’s towards C.
- Repeat until failure i.e. someone arrives in another spot before the person has vacated it.
Round 2 – Group make all the decisions
- One member (A) raises their arm and points at another member in the circle (B).
- When person B says ‘Go’, person A is allows to start walking towards person (B).
- Person B now needs to vacate their space before person A arrives, by following the pattern i.e. raise their arm and point at someone else in the circle (C) , and once C says “go” B walk’s towards C.
- The pattern repeats until a space is not vacated in time for the arriving person
NB. Expected results are that Round 1 results in the leader running around and becoming fatigued quite quickly, with the group being frustrated at having to wait for permission or contact with the leader before moving. Round 2 should have a more obvious flow to it, with everyone feeling like they have self control and ownership.
All of these games are a great energiser for a bunch of different situations, and I encourage you to try them out!
If you want to know more about them and the context in which they can be used, please feel free to get in touch.