Offsite ice breaker: the only one I’ve ever found to be useful

I wrote yesterday about “How to run a better offsite meeting or tour“. And a good comment was posted asking if I had any suggestions for good ice breakers (basically). And my answer is: I’ve only ever experienced one that I felt had any value.

Typically exercises are cliches like “Tell us one thing about you that no one would know.” And that usually results in great fodder for a cartoon. So what was the exercise?

  1. Everyone gets a slip of paper, and has to answer “If I could solve one issue in my job it would be…”
  2. Then those slips are passed to the right. It’s important that you not explain this step ahead of time, or else you’ll get bad results in #1.
  3. Now everyone must explain what value would be derived from solving the issue that they received.

What you get is some level of insight into what people are doing (which is what you wanted, right?), how they perceive their job, and one of their main frustrations. You’ll also find out who poses a serious issue, or if they are like me and find a way to work in a joke or pop culture (at the time Charlie Sheen was still “winning” so I got a lot of good laughs by incorporating him).

What we experienced was a pleasantly serendipitous experience. All the issues were earnest, but more importantly the value from solving those issues that co-workers detailed was well thought out. It showed a level of involvement across a team of people who do a lot of different things that wasn’t expected.

Image by: Andrew Kuznetsov

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Alicia Mazzara

What a great idea. Too often I find that ice breakers don’t spark very meaningful conversations, or much of any conversation at all (i.e. I don’t really have much to say about what your favorite color is or your hometown, etc.).