I remember my first encounter with a team-builder book. It was actually a purple box with each team-builder and ice-breaker on a piece of card stock filed under different group goals to accomplish. I was enamored by this idea, thumbing through the cards, thinking about how it is someone’s job to craft these activities. To dream up that if I have a hoola hoop, a rope, and a deck of cards, I will get a group of people to experience something at minimum interesting together and ideally something that will leave them better equipped to make something happen. Now, I am a naysayer of many forced group activities. Perhaps this early exposure made me appear as a snob to the average icebreaker (no human knot here!) however, deep down, what I want is for each facilitated group experience to be meaningful, purposefully selected, and tailored to the group. So what began as just a girl reading countless ways to guide strangers through a field of faux-lava and jump ropes as boundaries for river crossing, sparked a dream that continued each time I purchased a team-building book or training guide. I would like to write my own book of group activities to facilitate a wide range of outcomes to support personal growth, teamwork, reflection, and leadership skills. I am continuing to think about content, format, and what I could do to make it useful. I’m not there yet, but all synapses have been firing the past couple days and I have two of my own that are twists perhaps on other team-building methods you have utilized.
First, what I am calling the “Overlap Map.” During my time writing and facilitating a variety of leadership development experiences, it seems the concept of a life map comes up often. And it is a useful activity filled with outcomes of self-authorship, facilitating an opportunity to describe meaningful personal experiences, and helping groups to increase the depth of what they share with one another. This twist came to me where instead of just sharing our own individual maps, what if we saw the plot points of these significant experiences alongside those of our group members. There came the idea for the Overlap Map. Participants identify five experiences noted on post-it notes. They share the experiences with their groups. Then the group plots the post-it notes chronologically on a large timeline, offering an opportunity to reflect on shared experiences before they may have even met one another or to see how drastically different one person’s experience could be from another’s that may have occurred simultaneously. Here is the facilitation guide.
Second, is a way to explore vision. A leadership mantra that often floats into my mind is Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind.” There are tons of excellent visioning exercises out there, but this idea came to me when brainstorming a president’s roundtable for student leaders. It is essentially a reverse cartoon where you ask participants to begin in the last square of the cartoon to draw out the vision he or she has for the end of their time as president, for the end of the year, for a point in time where one may want to mark that a goal has been accomplished. From there, you help the group back track to share who the stakeholders to their vision are, what tangible goals they want to go after, and draw them all out to reach their first drawing, the last cartoon square, and make their vision come to life. The goal is not artistry; when I facilitated this today some participants primarily wrote or used stick figures, but others really enjoyed the artistic exercise that let them think about reaching their goals a little bit differently. I have an 11×17 handout available that is easy to print plus a brief facilitation guide.
Stay tuned for more and do let me know if you find these resources helpful. One other site I like is Gamestorming - check it out. Have you created your own ice-breakers or team-builders? Where do you go to find resources?