Icebreakers – Teambuilding


Sun Tzu said, “The experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never at a loss. Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.”

Thinking of your work situation, who is your enemy? Would each of your team-members identify the same enemy? Why or why not?


Many organizations have animal mascots that share some sort of similarity with the organization. If your team had a mascot, what animal would it be? Why?


Think of your team as an actual, living person. Now imagine each different member of your team as one article of clothing that this living team is wearing. Each piece of clothing should describe in some way a team member, revealing how he/she adds something special to the team.

For instance, the living team might wear running shoes (representing Ted) because he always gets ideas that propel the team to explore new paths. It has on a blue T-shirt representing Julie who always casually imparts a peace and calm to the group, and is thought of as the “heart” of the team. On its head is a black hat representing Joanne who, always the intellectual, envisions every negative possibility and then plans strategy that overcomes each potential negative.

What clothing is your living team dressed in?


We are all familiar with Rodin’s statue of “The Thinker.”

If the thinker was sitting there reflecting on your team, what would his thoughts be summed up in one sentence?


Gutters are designed to collect waters running off a house’s roof and direct them towards a safe place. However, things other than water collect in gutters. Leaves, fir needles and pinecones accumulate in the gutter and block the drainage pipes. If these are not removed from the gutter, the overflowing water can saturate the soil next to the home’s foundation and cause settling which then causes the foundation to crack. The overflowing water also rots the wood in the roof next to the gutters causing extensive damage.

Your team has its own gutters. The gutters are team norms that help you do the job you are supposed to do. But problems within a team can be similar to leaves, fir needles and pinecones. If not resolved regularly, they can damage or destroy your team’s effectiveness.

In what shape are your team’s gutters?


ABC news on the internet once had a weekly science section called “Mad or Rad.” It discussed interesting studies in science. Some past articles were:

  • Fire-Fighting Diapers;
  • Sharing Virtual Fatigue;
  • Look Ma, Mutant Cockroaches;
  • Coffee’s Medicinal Powers; and
  • An Oasis Amid Fires

Which one best describes how your team works? Why?


If you walk by the laundry section in a grocery store, you will see many different laundry products. These include cold-water detergents, all-temperature detergents, stain removers, fabric softeners, all-fabric bleaches, and whiteners.

Think about your team’s purpose. Imagine that your team had a logo that illustrated its purpose – but the logo had to be a laundry product. Which laundry product would be your logo? Why?

Possible answers could include:

  1. stain remover because our job is to solve the problems that other teams couldn’t solve;
  2. fabric brighteners because we develop marketing plans that make our company look bright, colorful and successful; and
  3. bleach because we are the public relations arm of the company (we take things that are soiled and make them look white again).

In the movie, South Pacific, Mitzi Gaynor plays an army nurse who has a troubled romance with a wealthy French plantation owner played by Rossano Brazzi. In one scene, referring to the plantation owner, she sings, “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair…” while scrubbing madly at her hair in the shower.

If your team sang that song, what problem would they be washing out of their hair? Explain.


On a typical day, does your team function more like a:

  • Dirt bike;
  • Double-decker bus;
  • Second-hand lemon;
  • Rolls Royce; or
  • Tank?

Explain your answer.


When your team gets stuck going nowhere, what board game is it usually playing –

  • Clue;
  • Monopoly;
  • Scrabble;
  • Checkers; or
  • Concentration?

Explain your answer.

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