Teambuilding Icebreakers
From: M. D. Anderson Department of Performance Improvement
Date: January 15, 2008

Jennifer Sutera: Hello I'm Jennifer Sutera

Helen Sprigg-Saenz: And I'm Helen Sprigg-Saenz.

Jennifer Sutera: Team building icebreakers are great tools to use to stimulate the team, create a positive environment and get the team members moving together.

Helen Sprigg-Saenz: They are also important because they focus on the relationships and the people involved in the process. Relationships are important in performance improvement because everyone involved in the process should have buy-in. The question is should they be work related or should they be fun. A team here from the M.D. Anderson information line shared with us some of the icebreakers that they use to do team building activities.

Jennifer Sutera: Such as in a team meeting the team leader would present a question for all of the group to answer, some great work related questions have been, what's the most significant project that you've worked on at M.D. Anderson? What is the most significant thing that you've learned while working in a team? And what is the biggest project that you tackled and did it turn out the way you wanted? And what would you have changed about it?

Using the same concept, they've also used some fun questions to lighten up the environment of the team. Similar questions that they've used, if you are auditioning for American Idol what would you sing and why? Or if you had to be on a reality TV show which one would you be on and why would you choose that reality show?

One of the members from info line shared their experience with us. In our department at least we have found that we've learned much more about each other with the fun icebreakers. We have small teams and it helps us to start the meetings by laughing. We tend to find more common ground with each other with the fun icebreakers. That way if the meeting or discussion gets heated, when we leave the meeting we are able to still talk about each other and the stuff that we learned during the icebreakers.

The structure of team building icebreakers can be interactive exercises, games, case studies, role plays, simulations, illustrated tools, or puzzles and brain teasers. For example this puzzle is a similar exercise used to get a team motivated about generating solutions, having the group work together on this activity is an excellent practice in working together toward a common goal.

Also a simple ball toss is a great way to stimulate a brainstorming session among your team members. And of course get the team thinking together, so you can incorporate creative ways for team building. Here is some excellent resources that you can find additional information of icebreakers or even create your own puzzles.