When you first get a group of strangers in a room building up team rapport can be difficult. Ice breakers serve a number of purposes, but one of their biggest strengths is the ability to break down social barriers. Getting team members to let their guard down can allow the Scrum methodology to shine through and development team norms to form more easily.
The Goal of the Ice Breaker
The ice breaker should serve as a fun activity to get team members to know each other better. Natural leaders come out during ice breaker sessions, and individual team members who are a bit more socially reserved can receive more attention. It is all about improving communication early and often, allowing the team to develop relationships with one another as the Agile development process progresses.
Effective Ice Breaker Activities
There is a slew of popular ice breaker activities proven to be effective for teams. These work whether you are an Agile development team or just a new group in an organization. They’re all worth a try!
1. Common Things
What are some things everyone has in common? Do some of the team members all enjoy a particular sport or vacation spot? Do some have children in the same age group? The goal is to get people to know each other in a way where they can relate to one another.
2. Speed Meeting
This one can be a bit awkward initially, but it is a lot of fun. This is similar to speed dating in that you have two team members sit with one another for a short amount of time, then rotate to the next individual. In the end, the idea is to come back to the group and share what you learn from one another.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions
Ask an open-ended question to the group and see if you can get some energy going. Make sure you allow everyone to answer. Customize the questions to meet individual development team goals. The questions do not need to relate to the work product at all. A prime example of an energizing question would be talking about a recent professional or personal accomplishment.
Don't Force the Fun
You want to avoid trying to force fun with team building activities and ice breakers. Make sure that everyone agrees on the goal of the ice breaker. Once you get some of these basic ones out of the way, you can focus more on team building in the spirit of Agile. After discussing team norms and setting team expectations, everyone should be on the same page. The concept of Agile self-empowerment is the highlight here. When the whole team comes together and works in unison, the end results will provide more value to everyone involved.
When you start down the path of ice breakers with a development team, make them engaging and fun. You also want to have a point with them as well. There is no need to do activities for the sake of doing something. If you feel the team needs to understand one another better to gel, focus activities more in that space. If you have quieter team members and want to open up their social skills, go with activities that serve the purpose. Tons of options are available from the ice breaker space, so pick one and watch your development team come together before your eyes!
Through practical, hands-on training and team coaching, we help our clients learn, plan, and implement Agile processes in the workplace. If your team needs better ways to collaborate on product development, or better systems to manage complex projects, we can help!