The Electronic Discussion on

Group Facilitation

Process Expertise for
Group Effectiveness

Moderator: Sandor Schuman





Ice Breakers, Introductions, Energizers,
And Other Experiential Exercises

From the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation

The Dynamics of an Ice Breaker


Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 10:17:27 +0100

From: Jon Jenkins <[email protected]>

To: [email protected]

Subject: Re: [GF] Ice Breaker/Introduction For Large Group


Here is part of an outline of a lecture I give about openings.


The Dynamics of an Ice Breaker


The dynamic of an Ice Breaker is to

satisfy participants' needs to establish an appropriate social relationship

with other participants and with the facilitators, and

preview the style and content of the meeting.


A. At the very beginning of a program every participant is insecure about other participants and his or her place in the group.

 1. They want to be acknowledge in some appropriate way.  They want to be invited into the group.

 2. They expect an appropriate level of respect.

 3. People need to understand what is going on and how they fit is dealt with in an ice breaker.

 4. The vast majority of people want to be liked.


B. By using an ice breaker you provide people with the opportunity to send and receive messages to and about other people.

 1. People are able to observe each other in a controlled situation.

 2. An ice breaker gives people a chance to exchange names etc. in a structured way.

 3. Participants have an opportunity to observe others and to be observed.

 4. Participants then put on an appropriate role in relationship to their own self image and their image of the other participants.


C. The normal structure of getting acquainted would take too long and perhaps create a set relationships that was not appropriate to the meeting or program.

 1. The role of the facilitator is established during the ice breaker.

 2. The role of the participant is created during the ice breaker.

 3. The room in which the course or program is established as a meeting space.

 4. The participants are enabled to establish initial relationships appropriate to the program.


D. The style of the ice breaker informs the participants what kind of program they will be participating in.

 1. The ice breaker creates images of what kind of program is being facilitated, what is important in the program and what kinds of roles are expected from the participants.

 2. The content of the program is suggested by the content of the ice breaker.

 3. The style of the facilitator in leading an ice breaker is to enable the participants to relax to feel at ease with the task at hand.

 4. In general, the style of the facilitator is one of respect for the group and the individuals in it.


Jon C. Jenkins

Imaginal Training

Groningen, The Netherlands

See The International Facilitator's Companion, The Social Processes, The Innovation Workshop and The Other World at






Groups of 4-6 people, takes about 10 minutes.


Object:  to uncover 3 things all members of this small group have

in common (other than the obvious things such as you work for the

same company, are in the same town and are human!) (For example,

all have been to California, all have siblings, all like golf)

and 1 thing that is unique to each person in the group.(For

example, only one is an only child, only one collects plastic

frogs, only one was born in a foreign country).


Method:  Appoint (or let them self-select) one player in each

group to be the "scribe." Give the following (or similar)

instructions:  "For the next 3-5 minutes we are going to look for

3 things each member group has in common with the other members

of that small group and 1 thing unique for each member in that

group. The scribe will write them done. For the unique part, you

don't have to be the only person in the world who has the trait,

only the only person in the group. So, if everyone in the group

has a sibling and you are an only child, that is a uniqueness

within the group."


When finished, ask each scribe to report on the similarities and

uniqueness.  They don't have to name names but they might want

to. Either way is OK.


Debrief: Every person we meet has something in common with us and

has something new to offer us. This is great information to have

as we look for ways to overcome obstacles in the workplace and

our lives." Outcome:  People feel closer to each other and find

connections to others.




For each group or table at the opening, provide a sheet of paper

with the following instructions:


<start of sheet>

Who's At the Table?


1.  For each person, enter their name and one characteristic they

possess that no one else at the table possesses.


Name                                Unique Thing


2.  Find one thing that everyone at the table has in common

(besides this meeting!!!)


<end of sheet>


Make filling out the sheet a precondition for eating, leaving, starting the

meeting, whatever.  Ask tables to each share the thing they have in common

and one of the unique things.


Focused Conversation


(This is an application of the Focused Conversation method to introductions.)


1.  Give us your name, your role and something about what you do.

- - - Go right around the room, getting a response from each

person. Let the rest of the questions be open to the group to

answer as they will.


2. What do you remember from these responses?  What words or

phrases stood out for you?


3. Were there any surprises?


4. What did you hear that intrigued you?  Something that you

heard made you want to find out more?


5. What words or images would you use to characterize this group?


6. What connects us and draws us together as a group?


7. What strengths do we have that will assist us in our task?


8. How can we use them to be as effective as possible?


Obviously, the last few questions will need to be tailored based

on what you know about the purpose and task.  This conversation

takes the group from basic information about themselves, through

impressions and some interpretation to some initial implications

for what they are gather to do together.


You will probably only get a few responses to many of the

questions, but it can do the job of them developing an

understanding of each other and begins to build a way of relating

to each other and their task.




The leader put a pile of quotes on slips of paper in the center

of the room. We each picked one up, then picked a partner and

began to discuss what the quote says to us, if it is meaningful,

and how....then after a minute or so (very short) the leader gave

a signal and we switched partners, and we were allowed to switch

quotes as well if we liked (in some cases your partner may prefer

your quote and go with that.)  This went on for 15 minutes or so.

This type of activity might also be revised to fit storytelling

or sharing of a different sort.




SET UP: Put big numbers from 1 to 6 (or, for a larger group,

maybe 1 to 10) on the walls at different places in the room.

Prepare about 6 or so questions that have the same number of

answers as are on the wall, and put each question with the

answers, each answer coded to a number, on flip charts or

overhead slides.  For example:


Where are you from?


1 - Asia

2 - Africa

3 - Australia

4 - Europe

5 - North/Central America

6 - South America


How Many Brothers and Sisters do you have?


1 - 1

2 - 2

3 - 3

4 - 4

5 - 5 or more

6 - Only child


How Far is Where you Live from Where you were Born?


1 - Same place

2 - 10 miles

3 - 50 miles

4 - 100 miles

5 - Different Country

6 - Different Continent


and so on.  These are just examples.  The idea is to have people

find out that they have things in common with people from other

places, and there is a basis for commonality other than what

country they came from.  Make the questions suitable for and

sensitive to the realities of the group.  Also try and balance

the groups.  For example, if most of your people are from Europe,

the "where are you from?" question you might have four answers

for regions of Europe, then group Africa, Asia, and Australia as

5 and the Americas as 6.  For others using the exercise where

most of the people are from one country, use 4 or 5 of the

answers for regions of that country and one or two for the rest

of the world.  Unless, of course, there is a danger with your

group of sending the message that your country is more important

than the rest of the world.  You can see how you have to be

sensitive to what the questions, the answers, and distributions

might say.


RUNNING IT: Show the questions one at a time.  Tell everyone to

figure out the answer that best fits them and then go stand under

the number corresponding to that.  Give them about 5 minutes to

talk to one another, then give the next question.  You might tell

them to talk about the question, or just let them talk about

whatever: usually the answer to the question will be the most

obvious common ground for them to start to talk anyway.


DEBRIEF IT: You might wish to let them journal about the

experience before debriefing.  What happened, what did I do, how

did I feel, what did I learn?  Then ask if anyone wants to share



Revised April 19, 1998

A special thanks to Michael Kane and Karen Shuler for forwarding

many of the exercises initially used to populate this FAQ and to

Mary Margaret Palmer for the initial collection.

GROUP JUGGLE from Karen Shuler

A commonly used activity in r.o.p.e.s. is the group juggle;

it encourages rethinking of paradigms to solve a problems.  Start

with all participants in a circle, standing.  Have 4 to 10 objects

tucked into your pockets.  Begin with one object; toss it to one

person, asking them to say their name and then toss it to someone

who has not yet received it.  After everyone in the group has

received it, ask that it be tossed back to you.  Now explain that

this is a ________test (memory, IQ, training whatever fits your

program or provides comic relief), that you will toss again,

keeping the same sequence, and this go around will be timed.  Start

timing as you toss the first object and keep pulling objects out

of your pockets, throwing them to the same person, and end the

timing when the last object has returned to you.  Announce the time

as the 'benchmark' and explain that competition in their industry

is getting fierce and they are going to cut the time in half (or

let them choose a goal).  Start again, announce the time, encourage

a signification reduction and observe the process the group uses

to find solutions.  The size of the group is not a major factor

in determining the time, nor is the number of objects (aha, one of

the limiting paradigms!).  Sometimes it helps to ask the group

to refresh its knowledge of the rules (there's only one), especially

if they have assumed lots of rules.  It has been amazing to watch

groups struggle with this seemingly simple exercise as they whittle

their time from 1 or 2 minutes to 3 seconds (yes, 3, but don't tell

them that, just challenge them to significantly improve their

performance.) HINT:  The participants move to touch the objectives

instead of the objectives being tossed to them.


Give the participants the following instructions:  On a blank piece

of paper draw a pig.  Tell them not to look at their neighbor's pig

and give no further instructions other than to say the pig is of

the animal variety!  Do not influence how the pigs are drawn. After

they have completed the assignment give a good lead in about

personality typing, M-B, etc and tell them this is a similar test.

Their drawing will serve to interpret their personalities.

The results are as follows: (Don't shoot the messenger, I didn't

draw your pig!)

1. If the pig is drawn toward the top of the paper you are a

   positive & optimistic person.

2. If the pig is drawn towards the middle of the page you are a


3. If the pig is drawn toward the bottom of the page, you are

   pessimistic & and have a tendency to behave negatively.

4. If the pig is facing left, you believe in tradition, are

   friendly, and remember dates and birthdays.

5. If the picture is facing forward (towards you) you are direct,

   enjoy playing the devil's advocate and neither fear nor avoid


6. If the pig is facing right, you are innovative and active, but

   have neither a sense of family, nor remember dates.

7. If the pig is drawn with many details, you are analytical,

   cautious, and distrustful.

8. If the pig is drawn with few details, you are emotional, naive,

   care little for detail, and take risks.

9. If the pig is drawn with four legs showing, you are secure,

   stubborn, and stick to your ideals.

10. If the pig is drawn with less than four legs showing, you

   are insecure, or are living through a period of major change.

11. The larger the pig's ears you have drawn, the better listener

   you are.

12. And last but not least . . . the longer the pig's tail you

   have drawn, the more satisfied you are with the quality of your

   sex life.

PORTHOLE From Karen Shuler

A variation on the sinking ship used in r.o.p.e.s. is called the

Porthole or Through the Tire (everyone has to get through a

suspended tire - with certain limitations - in x amount of



A classroom exercise toward consensus that can be highly

challenging is the following. Seat everyone in circles, with up

to 14 people in each circle.  Heads are bowed and no communication

other than the following may take place:  one at at time, going

clockwise around the circle, each person says one word to

express ______ (e.g. the highlight of this training, the best thing

about our company, the prettiest place in the world, or you make up

something).  After going around the circle one time, there will

undoubtedly be a variety of words.  Now tell them to continue

the circling, each person saying one word, until they have reached

a consensus (i.e. everyone is saying the same word).  If you have

some strong people, that may take a dozen or more rounds.  The folks

who hold out the longest are often the visionaries of the group

(sometimes instigators or rebels).  It seems so simple but you may

be surprised.

THE ALPHABET GAME from Karen Shuler

Here's an icebreaker I made up when I was faced with a group of 26

people.  "What does the number 26 bring to mind?"  I asked myself

and came up with  The Alphabet Game.

1. Give each person a letter on a post-it, and ask them to place it

   somewhere on the front of their bodies (you might want to give more

   vowels, no x's, z's, q's.  I also made the vowels a different color

   than the consonants).

2. Give them five minutes to form one word with at least 3 other

   letters/people (a minimum of 4 letters/people per word)

3. At the end of 5 minutes, take a look at all or some of the words

   formed, depending on the time you have.

4. Give each word-group a sheet of flip-chart paper and ask them to

   form a sentence using that word to describe their expectations of the

   course (if done at the beginning) or how they felt about the course

   (if done at the end).

NOTE:  This reminds me of an ice breaker I experienced once at a

GroupSystem conference.  Everyone was given a letter and told that

the letters went with other letters that form a word that in turn went

with other word to create a slogan.  There was enough to form the

slogan 8 or 10 times.  Good for large group facilitation.

CARD GAME source unknown

Hand out decks of cards to teams.  Each team shuffles the pack of 52

cards (no jokers) and take 25 cards - one at a time - off the top of

the stack, placing each card on one "square" in a five by five grid.

Once placed a card may not be moved.  After all have been placed, each

row or column of five is scored like a poker hand (see below) and all

those are totaled to provide the score for that round.  Hoyle states

"the usual plan is to try for flushes in the columns and full houses

or fours in the rows.

In the beginning of teambuilding you might see a lot of conflict

around decision-making, requiring an hour or more, depending on

what additional work you chose to do with conflict resolution.

If several teams involved this can also lead to discussion of

competition.  You can have teams do it several times, timing it

as they work more and more as a team.


A fun team building activity that I have used that runs about 45

min to 1 hour goes like this:  get enough sets of tinder toys for

a many 4-6 person groups that you have.  Break up into groups and

ask each small team to create a symbol of whatever it is you want

to get into (i.e. how the team should work together, the attitude

about customer service, etc.)  Give each group about 15-25

minutes to create and then have each group present to the whole

group.  Debrief by pointing out how different or similar the

structures were, what the experience was like, etc.


I facilitate a class (adapted from Faultless Facilitation by Lois B.

Hart,  available from HRD Press) on basic facilitation skills which

reviews three  mainstay skills: observing, listening and questioning

For me, these are also three key skills in communication.  In the class,

we practice these skills in these short, simple, yet effective ways.

Observing - One group member role plays (non-verbally) a behavior or

feeling (provided by the facilitator on a 3 x 5 card) such as sad,

happy, frustrated, etc.  Other group members must use observation

skills to guess what the felling or behavior is.

Listening - In this practice session the facilitator begins by giving

an example of a time when they were distracted when trying to listen to

someone.  The next person paraphrases what the facilitator said and

asks for confirmation.  This person then gives an example of when

they were distracted and the person to their right paraphrases, and

so on round robin style.  The main point the group usually picks up

on is how hard it is to really listen when they are trying to think

of their own  *story* which they must tell next.  This is in fact

what we as humans do most of the time.  We forget that it is okay to

listen first, take time to think of our response and then reply.

Instead we are always thinking of our *rebuttal* as the the person is

talking.  We also talk about when it is appropriate to paraphrase,

why and how.

Questioning - We use the game *20 Questions* to help teach us the

importance of open ended questions. We then discuss how to phrase

and direct questions, and how to handle and respond to answers.

A short group facilitated practice session follows with a facilitator

practicing questioning and an observer taking notes for feedback.


Blindfold participants and put them in a space where they can't

bump into anything dangerous, tell them to line up in order of their

mother's birth dates SILENTLY.  Sometimes the biggest hurdle to

learning for highly educated, very accomplished professionals is

admitting they NEED to learn something.  This is a great, and safe,

way for them to experience "hindered communication", similar to

what might happen with people whose first language is not English

or people new to their workgroup or people outside of their professional

field.  It can launch some good discussions of communication paradigms,

barriers to good communication, etc.

ONE WAY VS TWO WAY COMMUNICATION from [email protected]

Have the participants to pair up with someone else.  If you would

like the added benefit of using this as an ice breaker or a networking

opportunity make sure they are pairing up with someone they do not

know.  Ask them to decide which one of the pair is A and which is B.

Ask the A's to leave the room.  Give the B's these instructions,

"When the A's come back into the room they will be blindfolded.

Your job is to take them by the arm (like if you were leading a

blind person) on a little field trip.  You may give them instructions;

such as, "walk forward five feet".  Explain that their job is to get

their A safely back to his or her seat.  (This takes a little advance

planning.  You  must decide on the route ahead of time.  We did this

at a hotel and the route was around the pool.)

To the group of A's give these instructions, "You will be blind

folded and your B partner will lead you on a little field trip.

They may give you instructions and lead you by the arm but you are

not to ask questions or give them any feedback whatsoever.  Their

goal is to get you safely back to your seat."

After, the first half of the exercise is accomplished, the roles

should be reversed and a different route established.  Only this

time the there should be two way communication.  This will go much

faster and easier with less stumbling by the blindfolded participant.

This was a fun, easy, interactive way for participants to see first

hand the difference between one way and two way communication.  We

used it to make a point and as an ice breaker.  It was extremely


CHAIN COMMUNICATION from [email protected]

Have an ambiguous photo or picture. Take a

volunteer aside to show the picture. The group doesn't get to see it.

They note (he/she can write it down) 10 things (or #  time permits)

about the picture. When the volunteer rejoins the group, tell the

group and volunteer that the volunteer is going to whisper information

about the picture to the person on their right. The person listening

can only take in the information without questions and without writing.

The information is repeated in this way until all people have heard.

The last person receiving the information tells the group what they

heard. Then the facilitator can read the initial 10 things the

volunteer wrote and show the picture. Laugh --- and discuss from here!

THE PLAIN JACKET from [email protected]

Lay a jacket or shoe or some piece of clothing on a table/chair and get

a volunteer. Tell them you don't know what _this_ is or what to do

with it and you want them to train you as to its use. Usually people

jump right into telling behaviors! As the "trainee", you can distort

the instructions like grabbing a button when told to grab the collar.

And have the volunteer turn their back on you when giving instructions

(like with the line drawings) and don't ask or answer questions. Make

it last just long enough to show minimal progress. Difficult times,

no feedback, no interaction--- I guess one could be very cold if we

needed _this_ in subzero weather!

BLIND INSTRUCTIONS from  [email protected]

Give each member of the group an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, the

facilitator needs one too.  Have them close their eyes.  The

facilitator issues the instructions and follows them as well.

No questions are allowed. Instructions:

  Fold the paper in half.

  Rip off a corner

  Fold the paper in half

  Rip off a corner

  Fold the paper in half

  Rip off a corner

The group can now open their eyes and find that there are many

different shapes of paper. The  debrief covers the need for two

way communication and that the different perceptions of the people

caused the many different designs.

If time permits the group can be put in pairs. Have the pairs sit

back to back and repeat the exercise using two way communications

and find that the patterns come out closer

THIS AND THAT from Jim Kinneer

A common purpose is an essential foundation for a successful team.

I have worked with a group in establishing a mission and value

statement. Now, I want to introduce the finished product to the

entire group and begin ground work for future team building activities.

I plan to try an activity that I designed called "This & That" The

activity is based on the concept that a team is not transformed

instantly into a high performing work group -- improvement is gradual

but continuous.

Team development is a process of becoming "more of THIS and less of THAT"

The staff will (hopefully) identify the THIS (the positive

attributes the team needs to perform) and the THAT (the negative

attributes that we need to leave behind).

To break the ice the activity will start with the staff identifying the

THIS and THAT values and behaviors in the following statements.

To show respect for co-workers

we must be more like ____________

and less like ____________

To cooperate we must be more like ____________

and less like ____________

To listen more effectively we must be more like ____________

and less like ____________


The staff is encouraged to add as many ideas they can to the lists

of THIS and THAT.  The staff responses are used a diagnosis of the

training needs.  For example staff identify "trust" as a THIS and

"distrust or suspicion" as a THAT; then a future activity would be

based on establishing and building trust.  A copy of the final product

is given to all staff.  You can also wanted to tie this activity into

establishing group norms.

ART EXERCISES from Susan Clancy-Kelly

1. As an icebreaker, I ask people to sketch a portrait of

   themselves and then explain it to the group. I've often discovered

   the most interesting and surprising things about my colleagues in

   this way!

2. In group sessions, I ask each group member to draw how they

   perceive themselves in relation to the group. This I do at different

   intervals in the development/maturity of the group and then get the

   group to look at their pictorial depiction of their forming, storming,

   norming process. This is also a good activity for drawing out the more

   reticent people in a group.

3. I ask the group to make a collage to depict ideas or concepts.

   In one session, I asked a group to depict their ideas for their future

   strategies and direction. The resulting collage was a powerful

   discussion tool for the whole group and resulted in the generation of

   lots of new ideas!

ENERGETIC ENERGIZER from Randy Shuttleworth

One of the most energetic energizers I've seen recently was at a train

the trainer session locally. The lady that was to conduct the session

snuck in and sat at the back of the class. When she was introduced she

stood up and greeted everybody by saying that  those who purposely sat

in the back of the room were now in the "front"  of the room. (good

chuckle and got their attention).

She then threw out wadded up "balls" of brightly colored paper and told

the group if they caught one to throw it to someone else. They were to

keep throwing the "balls" around until she said stop. If they were

caught with one of the  "balls" at that point they came to the "front"

of the room.

They then opened up the "balls" to find words written on them in big

letters. Next they were given 3 minutes to arrange the words to form

a sentence. The correct answer was "If you do what you always did

you'll get what you  always got." She then got into "changing"

classroom situations to keep  the learners involved.


#1 On a flip chart, divide the page into four equal parts.  In the

upper left corner draw a big square.  In the upper right a big triangle.

In the lower left a large Z, and in the lower right a large circle. Then

ask participants which symbol they feel most represents continuous

improvement (or life-long learning, or some similar concept) be sure

to tell them there is no right or wrong answer.  Then ask for a show

of hands of who thinks its the square.

Turn to another page that has the square drawn and some words like:


        task oriented


Explain that a good team (group, etc.) should have some of these people

on it.  In fact it should have some of each group on it.

Next ask for a show of hands for the triangle.  Go through the same

process for each symbol.  The pages should have the following:

Triangle: Leadership, Visionary, Determined

Z: Creative, Risk taker, Fun loving

Now ask for a show of hands for the circle (usually most people select

this one).  Now turn to the circle page and have the following written:

Constantly preoccupied with partying and sex.

Explain that you just wanted to get a feel for the types of people in

class and now you have.

NOTE:  If you don't like partying and sex, or think it's inappropriate

you can substitute things like sports and shopping, or anything else.


Tell participants you want to do a quick psychological profile to

help them learn more about themselves.  They will grade their own

papers at the end and no one else will see the results.  It's strictly

confidential.  NOTE:  I will put the grading information further down

this letter in case you want to take this test yourself, it's kind of

fun. There will be four questions in all.

1.  If you died and could come back as any animal you wanted,

   what would that animal be?  When you have decided what animal

   you would like to be, write down 3 adjectives describing that animal.

2. What is your favorite color?  Now write 3 adjectives describing

   that color.

3. What is your favorite river?  (You don't have to have ever been

   there)  Now write 3 adjectives that describe that river.

4. Close your eyes and try to imagine being in the situation I will

   describe. You are surrounded by a brilliant whiteness.  Everywhere

   you turn, all you see is whiteness.  Think about being in this situation

   for a few seconds. Now open your eyes and write 3 adjectives that

   describe your feelings when you thought about being in that situation.

Now we will grade the papers.  Answers to follow

Question #1 The 3 adjectives you wrote are how you perceive yourself.

Question #2. The 3 adjectives are how other people perceive you.

Question #3. The 3 adjectives are how you perceive sex. (or making love)

Question #4. The 3 adjectives are how you perceive death. I had a

psychology teacher do this in her class many years ago and went on

to explain the validity of the test.  It's not very valid but the

reasoning goes something like this.

Question #1 - We usually want to come back as an animal with

characteristics we admire.  example:  I said porpoise and wrote:

intelligent, graceful, free.  (I have a high I.Q., have always been

very active in sports, and I'm an independent thinker.  When we

admire certain characteristics we tend to want to emulate them.

Question #2 - We again usually like colors because they have

characteristics we identify with.  I wrote red at the time but

can't remember why.  I've have since change to purple.  An example

would be a person who chooses sky blue because its peaceful, calm,

relaxing, or red because its exciting, dangerous, energetic.

Question #3. - Had something to do with Freud.

Question #4. - Based on stories of people dying and coming back to

life and walking towards a bright light or being bathed in a bright


The reason I like this icebreaker is that everyone writes good things

about themselves and gets them excited about taking it home and doing

it to their spouse. Feel free to leave out the river one or even the

death one if you like but I have never had any problems and get the

greatest laughter on the river question.

QUICKIE OPENER from  Karen Shuler

Ask participants to draw 2 pictures.  The first as they see it now.

The second.  If this conference is successful, how will it look in

10 years. They then comment on the differences.

ICE BREAKER from Karen Shuler

The facilitator interviews each participant prior to the initial

session, asking them what unusual thing they have done in their

life or something unusual that has happened to them.  Things like

"lived for 8 months in a tent" or "I got shot once" have come up

in my interviews. Then, you take one item per person and put

together a list, leaving a blank space next to the event. The

list looks like this:

 Got shot once                 __________________________

 Lived in a tent for 8 months  __________________________

As the icebreaker, people have 5-10 minutes to fill in as many

blanks as possible with the name of the person who did the thing.

The person who gets the most names gets a little prize for their

efforts. Afterwards, we discuss 2 main points of the activity -

1) people have done more unusual things than they think and these

life experiences will help them in having new experiences at

work, and 2) the people who do know each other usually discover

something new about the other person so it brings home the point

not to assume you know someone so well that is why they do the

things they do or make the decisions they make.

TOSS THE BALL AROUND From Ned Ruete <[email protected]>

One I have used is to "toss the ball around." Get some sort of

safe ball, (kush ball, plush ball,...). Facilitator tosses the

ball to someone and that person says their name as the catch it.

Then they toss it to a second someone who says their name as the

catch it, and so on, til everyone has caught the ball and said

their name. Then you go around again, only the person throwing

the ball has to say the name of the person they're throwing to.

Keep doing that until everyone can throw the ball to anyone and

say the name as they throw.  . . . There is another wrinkle to

"toss the ball around" that does this. As in the "going around

the circle," time how long it takes for everyone to touch the

ball and say their name, and tell them to improve their

performance. That wording of the instructions is extremely

important. They will probably come to the idea of getting close

together, each touching the ball, and saying their name all at


NAME CHAIN From Facilitated Solutions <[email protected]>

Here's a "new" one that I came across this week, and have tried

it with four groups so far. I don't know the author but it is

someone who presented at a Teaching & Learning Forum in South

Africa last year.

It's purpose is two-fold. Firstly, to encourage everyone to

remember everyone's name and secondly, to illustrate that the

only way to complete this exercise is for everyone to participate

(like in the new company structure). Also, since the participants

seem to be the managers, you can use the principles of management

to illustrate any of the "learnings" that may arise.


1. Group members form a circle, preferable not seated at desks.

2. The facilitator says their own name and each person then says

their's, going in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.

3. Repeat step 2 but time it and record the time on a board.

4. Repeat step 3 until the times become consistently the same.

5. Repeat step 2 but in the opposite direction and time it, record it.

6. Repeat step 4.

Points can be highlighted like "what happened when there was a

break in the group?" "how could we improve the time?" "what are

we doing to facilitate this process?" "how is this activity like

managing a business?" etc.

Then we have the fun learning part :-)

7. Facilitator to say their own name and the people on either

side of them are to say theirs. The idea is to have the names

going in both a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction at the

same time.

8. Record the time (and differences) when both names get back to

the facilitator. Often there is a 10-20 second difference.

9. Repeat step 7 & 8 until the times become consistently the


Obviously the first time step 7 is attempted, the group usually

breaks down because several people have to say their own name

very quickly, twice, and indicate which direction the "work" is

going. You can illustrate the learning points here in many ways.

One is to highlight the fact that double the amount of work was

done by the group in roughly the same time as when they only went

in one direction. i.e. productivity has increased (output

increased for the same costs). Another is to focus on what the

group did differently when the names were going in both

directions. You can have a ball with this. I used it in some

management courses this week and I had the participants plan

their targets before we started, measure the actuals and then

examine the variances. You can even give a brief introduction

into statistical process control.

Hope this is clear because it is hard to describe such a dynamic

process. As a rule-of thumb, with 10-20 participants expect the

times to be around 7-12 seconds, even when the names go both ways

round. It's fast, furious, energizing and certainly different.

SAME LETTER From Annamarie Pluhar <[email protected]>

I admit that my favorite learning names ice-breaker is incredibly simple.

You probably already know it. It is this to simple have each

person introduce themselves with some relevant data . . . and a

word that describes themselves that starts with the same letter

as the letter that starts their first name. It breaks the ice in

a direct way and it's fun. If an individual gets stuck others are

allowed to help. The exercise allows people to see each other in

a new light. It doesn't take too long, you can use the years data

in a variety of ways i.e., how long you've been doing it the old

way... patterns developed are hard to change.. that's why we are

here.... etc.

Addendum >From Facilitated Solutions <[email protected]>

Annamaire's response can be taken a step further, especially if

the [participants] have been strong competitors. Instead of

introducing themselves, they have to introduce someone else.

However, to make it non-threatening, they have to find out

something about the other person that no-one else in the room

knows!!! This usually ends up being quite hilarious and "frees"

up the big group.

Also, if there are more than 20 people in the room, get them to

share the information in smaller groups to save time, and then

ask for one of the the most unusual things from each group that

was discovered about one of their members.

GROUND RULES OR GUIDELINES collected from many sources

Respect each other

Attach ideas not people

Be specific

Comments made here stay here

Comments belong to the group

One person talks at a time

Be punctual

Avoid passing judgment

Avoid killer phrases like "we already tried that"

   and "it will never work" and "yes, but . . ."

Be supportive of the other team members and their contributions

Silence and absence is consensus

Practice active listening

Keep discussion relevant

No side talking

One conversation at a time

No backtracking for people who are late

No beepers/cellular phones

5-minute rule (any one can call 5 min rule--to close out a discussion

   going no where)

Define acronyms

Everyone is equal

One person speaks at a time

Allow people to change

Balance consistency with flexibility

Check assumptions before acting

Criticize ideas, not people

Do not retaliate

Follow through


Keep an open mind

Keep communication lines open

Share responsibility

Speak for yourself

Speak up

Be open to the ideas of others

Take responsibility for your own learning

Keep things specific, real, here.

Full confidentiality

You have the right to pass

Be as open as possible but honor the right of privacy.

Information discussed in our group is confidential.

Respect differences.

Don't discount others' ideas.

Be supportive rather than judgmental.

Give feedback directly and openly;

You are responsible for what we get from this team experience.

Ask for what you need

Use your time wisely

Focus on goals, avoid sidetracking, personality conflicts and hidden agendas.

Start and end meeting on time.

Absenteeism permitted if scheduled in advance with the leader.

Review and agree on agenda at start of meeting and then stick to it.

Publish agenda and outcomes.

Everyone is expected to help facilitate the meeting.

Critique/evaluate meeting.

Everyone is expected to participate and to respect and support the

   right to be heard.

100% focus and attention while meeting.

Be willing to forgive.

Share air time

Phones and/or pagers on vibrate, instead of ring or beep

Be open to new concepts and to concepts presented in new ways.

One person talks at a time.

Job titles are left at the door.

Build self-esteem.

No finger pointing - address the process not the individual.

Rotate responsibilities

Frequently check for understanding - summarize and/or paraphrase

Work towards understanding consensus.

Include everyone in the discussion

Do not accept the first idea - go for the second and even better

   the third.

Start and end on time.

Everyone is responsible for  the success of  the meeting.

Have fun

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Don't interrupt someone talking.

No killer statements (don't shoot down ideas).

Be open to ideas

Everyone participates.

Differences or conflicts are handled positively.

Share your knowledge.

Be honest.

Ensure everyone participates at least every hour.

Provide key point notes to participants.

Respect each person.

Share responsibility

Criticize only ideas, not people.

Keep an open mind.

Question and participate.

Attend all meetings.

Listen constructively.

Ask a question when you have one.

Feel free to share an illustration.

Request an example if a point is not clear.

Be an "Adventurer" not a "Prisoner".

Practice active listening.

Be a team player.

Be yourself.

Ask questions.


Make mistakes.

Have a different opinion.

Listen alertly and take accurate notes.

Participate enthusiastically.

Confine your discussion to the current topic.

Give freely of your experience.

Appreciate other points of view.

Keep confidences and assume others will.

Share the limelight.

Say "Thank You".

Stay focused on the task and the person of the moment.

Ask why.

Keep up-to-date.

MINEFIELD from Karen Shuler

(1/2 to 2 hours) Scatter stuff on the floor or the ground (things

symbolic of the company or the people are nice, otherwise use

nerf balls, hula hoops, cans, boxes, etc.);  use rope or sticks

or chalk to mark boundaries around the field (usually a rectangle

but another shape may be more metaphoric for your group).  The

task is for some or all of the group members to move from one end

of the field to the other touching none or X number of objects

(e.g. the people are the raw product, the field is the

manufacturing process, the objects represent defects in the

process).  This can be run through a number of times, with

various 'handicaps' (personal challenges) which usually encourage

participants to experience from different perspectives.

Arrangements of people can include:  any number of people going

through the field at one time;  any number of coaches for the

person/people in the field (e.g. one-on-one, 7-on-one).

Handicaps range from communication (non-verbal,one-syllable

words, "hard- nosed" (as the group defines that - maybe one

chance to go through and that's all?), only positive but vague

feedback, only one coach speaks at a time) to physical (no

touching by coaches, coach has to be outside of the field, person

inside the field must be "blind").  My experience with this

exercise is that going through it a number of times, allowing the

group more and more control of some parameters while the

handicaps are made tougher (even putting more objects in the

field to lessen the empty space) has often resulted in an

appreciation for different needs and different strengths.

FAMILY FEUD from Barbara Batson

I've done this using the TV game show "Family Feud" as a format.

Using this with Commercial Bankers, I asked questions like "what

are the top five things customers like to hear from a teller?"

answers included "thank you", their own names, "how may I help

you today", etc.  Also, did the "what do customers NOT want to

hear?"  answers "you'll have to go see . . .", "that's against

our policy", "NO". etc.  Ideas are unlimited and participants

really enjoyed it. Debrief as appropriate.

HOUSE from Frank Bell

The exercise below, called "House" can also be used to

demonstrate the value of two way communication.  Before

presenting it, the instructor draws a figure on a flip chart or

overhead and conceals it.  The figure should look something like




                       |/  \

                       /    \

                       |    |

                       |    |

                       |    |


He or she then tells the group that they will be given instructions to

perform a simple task and that questions are not permitted.(If someone

asks a question, I usually answer it by repeating word-for-word what I

just said).  The instructor then repeats the following:

        "Place your pencils on the blank space on your page.  Draw two

        parallel lines.  At one end of the parallel lines, draw a line

        at right angles to to them. At the other end of the parallel

        lines, draw an inverted 'V.'  On one leg of the 'V,' draw two

        parallel lines. At one end of the two parallel lines you just

        drew, draw a horizontal line at right angles to them."

After the pencils are down, the instructor asks how many got it right,

then reveals the picture.  Take the discussion to communication, to

giving orders, to all types of topics.


There are FOUR kinds of participants in most training events.

There are PRISONERS, who are there against their will (usually)

because their boss told them to show up. There are VACATIONERS,

who are there because training is like having time off from work

- they are relaxed and (hopefully) refreshed and renewed as as

result of their attendance.  There are CONSUMERS, who are

trainees who have a specific learning agenda ("really want to

learn how to coach my subordinates"), and there are ADVENTURERS,

who are like Consumers without a narrow, specific agenda. They

want to learn whatever is available. I've asked people to choose

which role most closely resembles themselves, which two roles

most closely resemble themselves, which role the trainer becomes

if the group is comprised primarily of one type or another, etc.

I've had groups in mandatory training reveal they are ALL

prisoners, and so we've used a few minutes to acknowledge what

that is like before plunging into the material.


from Creating Culture Change: The Key to Successful Total Quality Management by Philip E Atkinson

If you haven't encountered this before, give it a go now, and count the

"f"s. The solution is at the end of the text.  I normally allow 40 seconds

(using an OHP) for this, then repeat the exercise, allowing 50 seconds.

"The necessity of training farm hands for first class farms in the

fatherly handling of first class farm livestock is foremost in the

minds of farm owners. Since the forefathers of the farm owners trained

the farm hands for first class farms in the fatherly handling of farm

livestock, the farm owners feel they should carry on with the family

tradition of fundamental training of farm hands of first class farms in

the fatherly handling of livestock because they believe it is the basis

of good fundamental farm management."

Hope I spelt everything correctly! If I did, there are 38 "f"s in the

above text. In my experience, most people count between 26 and 32.

Some get part way through, and guess the rest!

STRAW AND PAPERCLIP from George Takacs

Give each group a box of straws (not flexible straws) and a box

of paperclips.  Check that the paperclips can fit snuggly into

the end of the straws.

Give each group a task (you can use the same one for each group

if you want) and let them go.

Sample tasks:  Build the __________ structure as a group.




  most creative

  most functional  etc.

Debriefing included describing teamwork and situational

leadership skills used as well as how different models are needed

to accomplish different tasks.

MUSIC AS METAPHOR from Mary Margaret Palmer

A couple of years ago I attended the Ventana conference and where

I attended a presentation by Eugene J. Quidort of Samovar

Consulting on a facilitation technique called Music As Metaphor

where he used music for problem solving.  Of course he oriented

the process using GroupSystems V but you don't need electronic

meetingware to use it.

When working with a group the intent is to establish a working

vocabulary of musical type definitions.  Each type of music has

distinctive elements: rhythm and meter, melody, harmony, and

texture.  Each type produces a distinct impression on the

individual members of the group.

Play a musical passage that reflects the type of music (15-30

sec).  Ask the group to record their impressions.  Repeat playing

and recording for five to seven different types of music.

Briefly ask each member of the group to review their impressions

and definitions for each musical type"  Then have them share with

the other members. "The intent is not to reach consensus on the

music but to explore the breath or similarity of feelings in the


Next ask the group a series of questions about the problem the

group is facing.  Ask them to relate the problem to a type of

music previously defined and most important ask them to identify

why this type of music applies.  Discuss the issues that arise.

It is not important what type of music the group identifies.

What is important is the reasons for choosing that type and the

agreement or lack of agreement within the group as to why the

type applies.  This technique will surface problems and other

areas for discussion that do not surface under normal probing.

Ideas for type of music:  jazz, bluegrass, Rhythm and Blues, Rock

n Roll, Disco, Caribbean, classical, country, folk, modern,

cajun, etc.  You get the idea.  The information come from the

paper in the proceedings and written by Mr. Quidort.  For more

information call 607-754-3534 he does train the facilitator


GENERALIZING from Susan Nurre:

Hold up cup.  Ask audience to look at it and call out what it is.

Ask "we all agree this is a cup?"  Hold up cup again walking

around room.  Ask audience what we use it for.  Ask "we all agree

that this is a cup and it's used to hold liquid (drink from,

whatever group consensus is).

Explain principles of "generalization."  We as a group

"generalize" that this is a cup. Some generalizations are good --

if we had to rediscover the purpose of a cup or door each time we

encountered one, it'd be a tough world. Some generalities are not

so good -- such as "all blondes are dumb" usually gets laughter

because I'm blonde -- use other examples pertinent to group --

maybe "teams don't work here"

(Get creative here!) Say:  While we generalized that this is a

cup, it could also be a hat (place on head), a toy (walk it

across table top), half of a modern telecommunications system (my

client happened to be in that business), etc..

Then say:  Today, we need you to set aside your generalizations

of the way things are done, the way the organization is

structured, the way people do their work, etc. Now, I'd like to

introduce you to the future of XX Corporation.

KNOTS from Grant Hodgson:

Tell them this exercise is about cooperation, and how it works.

Get them to stand in a circle, facing in, groups from 6-12,

shoulder to shoulder, closer,closer.!  Then tell them to close

their eyes, and put both hands into the center of the circle.

Then say "with your right hand, take one hand of one other

person.  pause "Now with your other hand, take a hand of someone

else"  When all hands are taken 1:1, say "open eyes, and you will

see that you are in a Human knot"

Ask, "Do you think that it is possible to undo this knot without

breaking hands?" (Subtle suggestion of a rule, and a challenge)

Very often they will start immediately to try and undo it as a

group task, and will have a lot of fun doing it.  At the end they

will often stand around for some time, still holding hands.

Process the activity by asking the group what they did, what

happened, and after getting a couple of whiteboards full, how

this is like their working together in work terms. A very

powerful experience, and informative about the actual group


TP from Kathy McWilliams

I always have fun with the toilet paper opener!  Pass a roll of

TP to the first person closest to you and merely say "Take as

much as you think you need and pass the TP to the next person".

Don't offer any more information.  Once the TP has gone around

the room.  Say to the group, "For every square that you tore off,

tell the group something about yourself".  Then watch their

faces, I get a charge out of who is proud that they only picked

one square, and the others that picked 20 squares!  This works at

any level of people in the room.

LAND THE PLANE from Jacqueline Lizar

Objective:  The objective of the game is to land your respective

aircraft (or to be landed) safely and efficiently.

Room set-up: Each person is designated to be either an air

traffic controller or an airplane (max. 3 airplanes per

controller).  Airplanes are blindfolded.  Air traffic controllers

and airplanes are placed around the room.  The airplanes will not

be allowed to talk. Air traffic controllers will guide the

airplanes to a safe landing. There will be obstacles around the

room.  Bumping into them would be bad for the customers and will

cause a delay in the arrival time of the plane (i.e., facilitator

detains airplane or walks them to a more distant location).

NOTE: Depending on numbers of people, this can take up to 20

minutes to setup.  It is a good idea to have an assistant to help

in both setup and policing quality during the exercise.

Facilitator role: The facilitator will have pause exercises and

stop questions during the run of the game.  Pause exercises may

include the use of more effective ways to communicate and

creative approaches as well as recognizing what does work.  Some

stop provoking questions are:  If you are a front line person,

can you see what might be frustrating your attempts?  What is

working?  What is not working?

Strategems and considerations:  Front line people must often

perform in the midst of chaos and land the plane.  In other

words, walk in their shoes.

- Efficiency - The sooner you land the plane the better because

  more are coming in.

- Quality - Delays will occur when airplanes bump into things.

- Multi-task - Can you handle more than one thing at a time?

  And  if so, at what sacrifice?  Who will suffer or get the short end?

- How good a communicator are you?

- How much initiative will you take when risk is involved?

- What about quality vs. efficiency trade offs?

ICE BREAKER from Kristin Johnson

My idea for an ice breaker is to break into smaller groups

(tables) and have each person write down two things that the

others do not know about them and a third that is made up, or not

true.  Have each individual share their 3 items with the group

and the group tries to guess which one is not true. Its fun and

get's people to know one another better.

INTRODUCTIONS from Roy Johnson

One idea which we used in teambuilding was to have everyone form

in a circle.  Then you would start with one person introducing

themselves using their first name preceded by a descriptive

adjective - for instance - you might be "Marvelous Mary" and I

might be "Righteous Roy."

Now here is the catch, when it is your turn, you first have to

say everybody's name before you.  If I was the 2nd person after

you, I would have to say "Marvelous Mary", "Righteous Roy."  If

ticklish TOM" were the 3rd person, he would have to say "M..

M...", "R... R...", "Ticklish Tom."  Needless to say, it does

provide some interesting results, it breaks the ice, and it gets

people to know each other on a more informal, first name basis.

It is also good for improving memory skills through association.

ALIAS MINGLER from Roy Johnson

The second method I have used in more informal, social functions

when there are a bunch of folks.  Get out a bunch of labels and

start writing down the names of well known characters such as:

Mickey Mouse, Caesar, Humphrey Bogart, Julia Roberts, Roy

Orbison, Michael Jackson and on and on...  As the group gathers

together, you give them the instructions that they need to figure

out the name of the character that is written on their label.  To

do that, they are allowed to ask one question only of each person

they talk to.  Then you simply walk around and place the labels

on their backs.  This forces them to mingle and it is really a

great ice-breaker.  When someone successfully figures out the

name, they get to move the label to the front - then you put

another label on their back -- no one gets off too easily.  The

one with the most labels wins if you even care about winning --

most people just enjoy talking to each other by that time.

VALUES from Ron Cox

You can try a set of cards with 15 values written on and given to

each person.  Then, have them order by priority, discard five,

discard 5 more.  Then, they can discuss in groups of 5-7 what

their remaining 5 are and how they relate to their own views of

project management. Each group can report to the whole group.


Have participants count off by fours to get into four groups of

10.  The topic for each group is to have each person give a 60

second introduction of himself or herself and tell what they want

to accomplish at the meeting.  Then each group selects a

spokesperson who gives the entire bunch of 40 a summary from

his/her group of (1)  generically who is in the group and the

non-overlapping list of what the members of his/her group want to


This gets them going with each other, helps them get to know each

other a bit and, most important of all, gets the various needs

and agendas out in the open.


Give a flipchart page to each participant and ask them to

complete the following statement 10 times:

      " I am the kind of person who..."

This statement is difficult to answer with work-related responses

and forces members to share more intimate information. Using less

than 10 responses becomes too simple and does not achieve

intimacy. Participants then place their page on their chest (like

a sandwich board) and circulate silently, reading each others'

lists. Participants generally discover things about one another

that they did not know before and have fun doing it. Charts are

then posted on the wall for the duration of the session.

FORCED CHOICE source unknown

Each corner of the room is labeled: Strongly agree, Agree,

Disagree, and Strongly disagree. The facilitator lists statements

related to the content of the workshop on a flipchart - one per

page. These statements should be clear and strong assertions that

will likely provoke a range of opinion. One at a time expose the

group to these statements and ask participants to go to the

corner that represents their opinion. Once there they find others

who share that opinion and they are given five minutes to discuss

the statement and their views.  The facilitator then asks for a

report from each group and relates their opinions to the course

content. The next statement is shown to the group and

participants again move to the corner of their choice and repeat

the process. I usually use 3 or 4 such statements ( they might

represent common misperceptions about the topic) and by the end

of the exercise participants have engaged with most of the other

group members in a fun way. In addition they are more aware of

some of the key concepts they will be addressing during the



The group is divided into teams of 4 or 5 and asked to prepare a

flipchart that lists individual differences - things that are

unique to that individual, and similarities: qualities,

activities, interests etc., that all team members share. Third

they are asked to list each team members expectations for the

session. How this is arranged on the flipchart pages doesn't

really matter. When completed each team goes to the front and one

at a time members give their uniqueness, a similarity they share

with others, and their own individual expectation for the

session. With 40 people this will likely take too long but it is

a good multi-purpose icebreaker that I find myself using over and

over again.

LIFE RAFT from Nigel Higgs

Place a sheet of paper on the floor, that is the raft. Everyone

"swims" around the raft until I shout "SHARK!" and everyone has

to get onto the raft before you have counted to five.  After each

"shark attack" half of the sheet of paper is removed.  The group

has to find ways of surviving as a group.  (You can get up to 15

people on a piece of A4 (letter size).

MOVING TO A STOP from Nigel Higgs

Everyone walks fast around the room.  They must all try to be

aware of each other and, after a while they must all slow down

together and eventually come to a stop in unison.

COUNTING TO 21 from Nigel Higgs

The group stands in a circle with eyes closed and tries to count

to 21, one person after another.  The rules are that the counting

must NOT go consecutively from one person to the next around the

circle, no "systems"  can be used (setting up of sequences,

etc..) and no two or more people can speak at the same time. If

any of the rules are broken the group goes back to "one".  Once

they have reached twenty-one they can try and get back down to

one.  (The clue is - how many people are in the group and what

are you trying to do).

TANGLES from Nigel Higgs

The group holds hands and, slowly, they move together,

intertwining, and generally getting themselves tangled up.  Once

they have gone as far as they can, they pause, and then try to

untangle themselves without breaking hand contact. Then do the

exercise again closing their eyes before untangleling.

THE PLOT THICKENS from Nigel Higgs

The group is split into teams, each member of each team taking a

number.  Numbers one and two of the first team start an improv on

anything.  Then "three" will enter when ready as another

character who will move the action in another direction.  Then

"four" will enter, then "five", and so on; each "number" will

influence the action of the impro with their own ideas. The

objective is to have a lot of people on "stage"  interacting

whilst keeping the improv interesting and successful - not as

simple as it sounds.

Possible Scenarios (you can make up your own).

        Team A:

                1.      A couple on a hill.

                2.      An under-cover KGB agent.

                3.      A tramp.

                4.      The spouses of the first couple.

                5.      A distraught parent looking for it's child.

        Team B:

                1.      A shoplifter.

                2.      The shoplifters neighbour.

                3.      A jogger.

                4.      Armed raiders.

                5.      A Hari Krishna devotee.

                6.      Someone who think's he's/she's Batman/woman.

        Team C:

                1.      A fisherperson.

                2.      The pilot of a broken-down airship.

                3.      Rowers in a boat.

                4.      The man who paints the Forth Road Bridge.

                5.      A talking dolphin.

                6.      A pair of evangelists.


Elicit uncertainties which members of the group have about the

future and support them in clustering groups of related

questions.  We could leave the questions wide open - or focus

more narrowly on the area within which their organisation is

working. Each cluster could 'seed' two possible futures - each

represented by one set of outcomes from the uncertainties. Groups

can have a lot of fun turning such a cluster into a coherent

story of the future - drawing up a timeline to illustrate how

this future unfolds, devising newspaper headlines which bring it

to life, and dramatising their presentation of the future to the

other group(s). Moreover - the fun leads them into stretching

their imaginations in a way which will help the strategic

planning task.

MUSCIAL CHAIRS From Edward S. Ruete:

From Robert Fulghum (of _Everything I Need to Know I Learned in

Kindergarten_fame) gives in his book _Maybe, Maybe Not_.  It is

basic musical chairs.  He plays the game until someone emerges

the winner:  usually the biggest, strongest, loudest, most

competitive individual (usually male.)  Then he starts over

again, only with a new rule: when the music stops, everyone has

to find a place to sit.  People shove over, make room, let people

sit on their knee.  The pace is different.  Instead of the mad

scramble and shoving, there is slow consideration of options and

choices.  As the number of chairs decreases, there starts to be

interesting dynamics as to who gets to sit on whose lap.  Finally

there is only one chair, and when the music stops, a slow and

deliberate process starts of one person sitting down and then

daisy-chaining person on next person's knee until the whole group

is poised on one chair.  Then he takes away that chair, has

everyone form a circle and turn face-to-back all around the

circle.  Then on signal they all (slowly and carefully) sit down

on the lap of the person behind them and all are sitting with no

chairs.  The difference between the two games is then discussed.

WALLETS From Edward S. Ruete

Have everyone take out their wallets and spread the contents out

on the table in front of them.  Offers amazing insights into

parts of self usually kept hidden and commonality of the human


COUNTING TO 21 >From Nigel Higgs

<[email protected]>

The objective of this game is to count from 1 to 21 and then back

down to 1 again, as a group exercise.  The Group stands in a

large circle, close but not touching. The rules are as follows:

* Anyone may call out the next number at any time but,

* It's back to 1 when two people call a number simultaneously,

* No one may call out two numbers in a row - back to 1.

* Any obvious pattern (e.g. two people alternating, bouncing

  numbers between specific people,) and it's back to 1,

* No discussion beforehand,

* Silence apart from calling out numbers,

* Everyone must close their eyes.

Note to leader:  This exercise requires sensitive listening,

openness, an acceptance of giving and strong teamwork.  Most

groups don't get very far, particularly if one or more people

attempt any form of control - trying to call out as many times.

If the group gets stuck, you can give them a clue.  Ask them to:

"think about how many people are in the circle".  If they still

have a problem then add the point "What number are you trying to

count up to?"  The group should be able to complete the exercise

after that. (Or at least make a significant improvement).

MOVING TO A STOP From Nigel Higgs <[email protected]>

The group is to start moving briskly about the room. They can go

anywhere. The objective is to gradually slow down and come to a

complete stop and freeze at exactly the same moment. The only

restrictions are that there is to be complete silence and no

signals used - just be aware of what is going on around you.

This exercise is simple and feels good when it works (and usually

does).  Again, the key is for nobody to try and control the

group. If it doesn't work, point this out and try again.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING? From Nigel Higgs

<[email protected]>

In pairs, standing. A & B. A starts a simple mime (e.g. ironing)

The quality of the mime is unimportant. B asks "What are you

doing?" A replies with something completely different from what

he is miming (e.g. "fishing"). B then has to mime this (fishing).

A then asks "What are you doing?" and so on. Objectives are speed

; no repetition and always unconnected ideas.


<[email protected]>

The group stands in a circle, holds hands and closes their eyes. The

objective of the exercise is for the group to send a "Pulse" around the

ring of hands in a continuos loop.


* When/if you feel your shoulder touched squeeze the hand of the

person on that side,

* When you feel your hand squeezed then squeeze the hand of the

person on the opposite side - i.e. if you right hand is squeezed then

squeeze your left hand.

The group leader/facilitator will start the process by tapping or

touching one person's shoulder.

Once the initial pulse is going further pulses can be introduced by

tapping/touching other participant's shoulders.

POSTERS from Michael Holdstock <[email protected]>

In the room there will be about 10 quotes/posters with

philosophical/existential thought-provokers on them. (These can

be distributed to the participants pre-day). Alternatively they

can get this on a piece of paper to read and then select - but a

bit of mingling to read the posters - physical movement - usually

gets some mental flow going - most conferences are too much mind

and not enough body.

Participants are invited to stand by or select the one that they

regard as the most interesting personally, the one that most

resonates with their vision/mission/passion, position in life at

the moment/experience - which one turns them on.

In groups of max 6 ( some popular quotes will need to have a

number of groups) invite them to:

1. Briefly describe why this one is relevant and its essence for


2 Consider what element of this that turns them on / is operating in the

organisation at the moment

3 How can they support the growth of the quality they are talkign about?

4 Group create a slogan, song, mission statement, acronym - some way of

representing how they believe this can be best recognised AND


in the organisation.

5 Groups present to other groups as a group i.e. not a spokesman doing it

for them

6 Allow them five minutes to connect with one other person in a

group whose idea/presentationsong etc was particularly appealing

to them as individuals and find out more about the other idea.

Quotes/statements type (maybe - these are mine from a recent

training styles congress):  "if my curent belief were not true,

what could be the advantages?  "What is at the moment impossible

to do in your organisation, but which would fundamentally change,

vitalise and enhance the organisation if you only could do it?"

"People always succeed at over-acheiving golas they have been

allowed to create themselves." (Gordon Dryden: Our of the Red).

"You don't stop playing when you get old, you get old when you

stop playing."  "Management is doing things right; leadership is

doing the right things."  (Drucker/Bennis)  "When I was teaching

safety in driving skills to truck-drivers, I played Dolly Parton

music as they came to the session - and they liked it. The choice

of music gave them the message that they were welcome." (charels

Schmid, founder of the LIND Institute)  "having only one model of

managing and leading, rewarding and judging people is totally out

of tune with the fact that we are all individuals" (adapted From

Howard Gartner).  "The only stupid question is the question you

are not asking." (Paul Macready)



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