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Energize & renew your Scrum meetings with icebreaker activities

A digital project is rarely a long and winding road. It does not matter how brilliant or challenging or innovative our project is : projects are thought and made by people, people are just humans and humans are far from perfect. As a part of a team, we can’t always be smiling , motivated and positive in every circumstances. The team morale during projects will sometimes be down, routine sets a couple of months after the launch. Project’s productivity & efficiency always suffer, sooner or later, from a lack of motivation or from a boring routine.

The Scrum framework provides an effective agile development methodology but can not guarantee that stakeholders, developers and product owners will always remain at their best during meetings. The practice of Scrum requires to perform a lot of ceremonies on a weekly and also daily basis. The recurrency and discipline of Scrum meetings (poker planning, sprint planning, reviews, retrospectives, demos, etc.) bring efficiency and productivity to projects but tend to become more tedious and disappointing over time.

If you notice that your coworkers, who were excited and on schedule at the beginning of the project, start coming a bit late and bored during ceremonies, it is time to change something!

I experienced this exact situation a few months ago. I did some research and did few experiments to discover some ways to renew, from time to time, how meetings and ceremonies are experienced by attendees.

That’s the reason why I wanted to introduce few Ice breaking methods in this post to describe how with a short exercise or animation at the beginning of a meeting, we could drastically improve the overall team energy and productivity.

Performing ice breaker techniques :

  • People will be more intrigued and sometimes even impatient to attend meetings.
  • People will be more focus, awake and productive.
  • Doing something fun will bring smiles and positive vibes into your team.
  • Facilitate new members integration.

Discover below, two methods I applied recently and made me appreciate benefits of “ice breaker” activities.

 

Team Building : Candy love to reinforce empathy within teammates.

“Candy love” is a team building activity allowing people to know each other better. Participants open up and can freely choose to talk about their life outside of work (hobbies, food, sports, etc).

Participants listen to each other resulting in a respectful and relaxed atmosphere.

team building

How does it work?

Bring a package of colorful candy and place it in an opaque jar or bag in the middle of the room.

Ask participants to, one at a time, pick a candy (without choosing the color) and share, according to the candy color, something personal to the audience. Here are the colors code :

  • Red – One thing that they love about their job. This candy will let people see the positive side about their work even if they don’t like it.
  • Yellow – A life goal they are working on. To give everyone positive vibes and inspiration.
  • Green – Their favorite book or movie. Everyone has hobbies and past-time recreations so it’s definitely a great candy to divert their attention to the things they love to do.
  • Purple – Favorite way to revive yourself during the workday. This kind of de-stresses their minds thinking about spa, movie, bonding with the family, etc.
  • Blue – One stressful thing about your job you wish you could improve. This one is actually motivating since it will convert every negative things about their job into something positive.
  • Orange – Your favorite food. Everyone loves food. It’s a topic that really picks up everyone’s interest.

Source : http://www.funretrospectives.com/candy-love/

 

My opinion after trying it :

The effect on the team was amazing. People trust improved considerably. A tone of respect and a listening atmosphere made the activity pleasant and peaceful while improving focus. I stopped the game whenever I wanted according to my planning. I knew instantly that I will reuse this exercise later. The workshop that took place, after this exercice, has been extremely productive.

 

Energizer : Human Rock Paper Scissors

Human Rock Paper Scissors is a fun, quick energizer activity that can be used to get everyone moving and laughing. Many people are familiar with the classic hand game, rock-paper-scissors. This game is a variation on the game, but requires people to get on their feet, move, and act as a team, rather than an individual.

 

How does it work?

  1. As a group, decide a full-body pose that will signify each element (e.g. Rock – each person of one group will bend down and hug their knees and curl into a ball so they look like a rock, Scissors – each person of one group will stand with legs shoulder-width apart and both arms up and hands behind the head so they look like a scissor).
  2. After the poses are decided, break participants into two groups. For each round, each group will need to do one of the poses (everyone in each group will need to do the same pose). Each group will have 5 minutes to strategize.
  3. Once all of the groups have their poses ready, a facilitator will have the two groups face each other and count down from 3 (i.e. 3….2…1….SHOOT). On “SHOOT” each group will need to strike one of the three poses. Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beat Paper, and Paper beats Rock.
  4. Best out of 5 rounds wins.

 

Source : http://www.funretrospectives.com/human-rock-paper-scissors/

My opinion after trying it :

I tested it with a group of 10 people. It was a great warmup. So, it is, I think, a good activity to start the day and wake everybody up. It forces people to work together defining a strategy. We had a lot of laughs and the team was trilled and more awake than ever to start the work day.

Hope those two examples will be useful for you.. If you discover great icebreaking activities. Don’t hesitate to let me know!