Game – Where am I?

About | This ice breaker game promotes interactions among participants before you move them on to more serious matters on the agenda

Goal | Break the ice, at the same time illustrate the importance of effective communication

Emphasis | Ice Breaker, Communication

Items | 3 x 5 index card, double sided tape

Size | 6 or more

Setting | Meeting Room

Time | 20 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Before the meeting, prepare 3 x 5 index cards with names of famous city. Include easy ones (Paris, London, Tokyo, Rome) as well as some harder ones (Dublin, Helsinki, Manila, Belgrade).
  2. Have all the participants to stand up and have their backs facing you.
  3. Get an assistant and stick the index cards on the back of each participants.
  4. One this is done, have the participants circulate in the room to mingle and ask each other questions.
  5. The objective of the game is to find out which city you are located (according to the index cards).
  6. However, participants can only ask close-ended questions, those that can only be answered with either a YES or NO to identify the clues that will help them find out the city on their index card.
  7. Participants can only ask each person one question and then they have to move on, mingle and ask a different person another one question.
  8. After circulating for about 5 minutes, stop the game and have each participants guess the city they are located.

Debrief |

  1. How many questions did they need to ask before arriving at their answers? Find out who ask the least questions and congratulate them.
  2. Selectively ask participants how the derive their final answer, does not matter if they got it right or wrong.
  3. How difficult or easy was it to work with only close-ended questions?
  4. What can they take away from this experience that can be applied to real life situations?
Instead of cities, you can also vary the category depending on your audience. Some ideas here:
  • Celebrities
  • Movie titles
  • Participants name within the group
  • Fruits and vegetables

If there are any parts of this game you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Game – You are Nuts

About | This is a simple ice breaker that gets the teams working together for some fun and laughter.

Goal | Break the ice, ease tensions and have a good laugh

Emphasis | Ice Breaker, Fun

Items | A packet of groundnuts (peanuts in shells) for each team

Size | At least 2 teams of 3 participants each

Setting | Meeting Room

Time | 20 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Divide the participants into teams of 3 to 5 people.
  2. Ask each team to choose their leader and give the teams a packet of groundnuts each.
  3. The game is simple. Each team has to decorate their leader with the groundnuts.
  4. How? By splitting the groundnut slightly at its top tip and allow it to pinch back on any parts of the leader’s face!
  5. The objective is to decorate and hang as many groundnuts as possible on their leader’s face – try the ears, mustache, lips, hair and any skin folds.
  6. Parade the leaders up front for comparison and laughter. The team that has the most groundnuts clinging onto their leader’s face, wins.

Debrief |

Not necessary, as long as everyone had a good laugh. Remember to take team photos as they post with their ‘mascot’ leader. This simple game should break down walls if any, and provide a good start to the team.

If there are any parts of this game you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Game – Arrange Your Team

About | This game requires participants in the team to arrange themselves according to the criteria given. The catch however, is that nobody is allowed to speak!

Goal | Get to know team members better while promoting communication and cooperation

Emphasis | Ice Breaker, Cooperation, communication

Items | None

Size | At least 2 teams of 5 participants each

Setting | Open Space or a Meeting Room with sufficient space to move around

Time | 30 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Divide the group into teams of at least 5 members each. You will need to have at least 2 teams in order to introduce the element of competitive fun.
  2. Get the teams to line up facing you as you give the instructions.
  3. Tell the teams that the objective of this game is for them to arrange their team according to the criteria you provide, as fast as they can.
  4. However, the most important rule of the game is, nobody is allow to speak! Teams will have to find alternative ways of communication.
  5. For example, give them a warm-up trial run by asking for a team arrangement according to HEIGHT – Shortest to tallest.
  6. When you say start, team members to scramble, reorganize themselves and get back into their line matching your criteria, all without uttering a word.
  7. Note the sequence of the teams completing the arrangement. Check if the arrangement of each team is correct. You can increase excitement by involving other teams to be collective co-judges as you verify the arrangements.
  8. The team that completes the arrangement correctly and fastest wins a point.
  9. Now that they get the idea, move on to other criteria. Make it harder and more challenging as you go along.
  10. Some criteria you can use are listed below. Think of others that might be suitable and fun for your group.
  • SHOE SIZE – Smallest to largest
  • HAIR LENGTH – Shortest to longest
  • BIRTH DATE (Day and Month only) – Earliest to latest in the year
  • FIRST NAME – Alphabetical order
  • YEARS OF SERVICE – Most to the least months/years

Debrief |

  1. How was the experience of arranging your team without speaking to one another?
  2. How did you communicate with each other in your team?
  3. Were there miscommunication resulting in wrong team arrangements?
  4. How could you have avoided the miscommunication or improve your timing?
  5. Can you identify real life experiences where you go through the same constraint and how can you do better in the future?

If there are any parts of this game you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Story – A Quote from Mother Teresa

Well this is not actually a story, but one of the quotes from Mother Teresa which you can use in your debriefing to emphasize the power of teamwork.

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
― Mother Teresa

If you wish, and depending on the situation and time, you can share with the participants a little more about Mother Teresa.

I have extracted the two paragraphs below from Wikipedia for your easy reference.

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), more commonly known as Mother Teresawas a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”.

Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity at the time of her death had 610 missions in 123 countries including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children’s and family counselling programmes, orphanages and schools. She received numerous awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and the Bharat Ratna in 1980.

Story – Charles Plumb and his Parachute

This story recognizes the unsung heroes, those who work behind the scene to ensure the success of the team, project or in this case a war mission. Some times team efforts may not be directly linked to the success of an endeavor. This story illustrates how important it is to have dedicate people behind the team to carry out their roles diligently despite the lack of visibility.

This is a true story about Captain J. Charles Plumb. He was was a navy jet pilot who on his 76th combat mission was shot down and parachuted into enemy territory. He was captured and spent six years in prison. He survived and is now an author and motivational speaker on the lessons he learned from his experiences.

One day, a man approached Plumb and his wife in a restaurant, and said, “Are you Plumb the navy pilot?”

“Yes, how did you know?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.

Plumb was amazed but at the same time grateful. “If the chute you packed hadn’t worked I wouldn’t be here today…”

Plumb realized and acknowledged that the anonymous sailors who packed his parachute saved his live. That sailor is a critical part of his team on a mission. Yet many times pilots never gave these sailors a second thought; never even said hello, let alone said thanks.

Now relate this story to your context. “Who pack your parachutes? Who are those in the team that helps you achieve your goals? Who help you through your life?

Recognize that every team member has a part to play to contribute to the team’s success, no matter how small the role is. Now, remember to thank and acknowledge their contribution next time.

Game – Finding Team Balance

About | This simple game involves physical movements as a team from a starting to the finishing line. However, team members will have to help and support each other to progress down the path.

Goal | Promote cooperation and interdependence between members in the team

Emphasis | Cooperation, Interdependence

Items | None

Size | Any from 4

Setting | Open Space

Time | 30 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Divide the group into teams of at least 4 members each.
  2. Prepare a starting line (it could be a tape or rope over the floor or an imaginary one) and a finishing line at some distance apart.
  3. Ask each members in the team to find something to balance on his/her head. It can be their wallet, a book, small rock, etc.
  4. The goal is to walk as a team and cross the finishing line TOGETHER as a team.
  5. Tell them it is not so easy as the following rules apply:
  • During the walk, no one may hold the item on their head in place.
  • The owner cannot touch his item. If it falls, someone else must pick it up and place it back on the owner’s head.
  • Items must be on everyone’s head when the team crosses the finishing line.
  • Everyone in the team must step over the finishing line at the same time.

Debrief |

  1. How was the experience of crossing the finishing line together?
  2. Can you relate this to the workplace or your team experience – people moves at different pace and with different skills and weaknesses?
  3. Are you used to helping others to complete their tasks?
  4. What else could you have done to help others to achieve the common team goal?
  5. Give examples of situations where you can help others to achieve a team goal.

If there are any part of this instructions you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Game – Go Team Walking

About | This game requires everyone in the team to move from one point to another as a team. The catch is each member is handicapped and they will have to work together to reach the set destination.

Goal | Demonstrate that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and the way to success is by complimenting and supporting each other

Emphasis | Cooperation, Communication, Trust

Items | Blindfolds and ropes in 2 feet lengths (Get a large piece of dark coloured cloth and cut it into smaller pieces to make the blindfolds and ropes equivalent)

Size | 6 onwards

Setting | Go Outdoors

Time | About an hour

Instructions |

  1. Divide the group into teams of 5 to 12 people. If the group is small, make it just a team.
  2. Have each team line up in a single file at the starting point.
  3. Tell them that their mission is to walk to the set destination together as a team.
  4. However, they have to get into the following team setup: Bind one hand (at the wrist) of the 1st to the 2nd member’s. Then bind one leg (at the ankle) of the 2nd member with the 3rd’s. Next bind the 3rd member’s hand with the 4th’s and the 4th’s leg with the 5th and so on. Once they are done, blindfold the 1st and every other members in the team!
  5. Now that they are ready, let them start walking as a team to the set destination.
  6. You can create some obstacles along the path which you want the team to traverse or use the outdoor terrains and trees to add fun challenges to the walk.
  7. The first team that reaches the destination together first AND safely (no casualties or complaints) wins.
Debrief |
  1. How is the team setup similar to actual team characteristics and members’ strengths and weaknesses?
  2. Was the team walk easy or difficult? How was your individual experience?
  3. How did you manage to walk as a team to the set destination with the different handicap imposed on your team members? (Answer: cooperation, communication, tolerance)
  4. What are the important elements of communication in this activity, especially for those who were blindfolded? (Answer: clear instruction & need trust)
  5. What can you learn from this team walk which can be applied to actual team seating?

If there are any part of this instructions you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Game – Our Common Links

About | This ice breaker provides a platform for participants to get to know each other especially when the team is coming together for the first time.

Goal | Build basic relationship between team members as a foundation for cooperation

Emphasis | Icebreaker, Communication

Items | Pen and a piece of paper for each team

Size | Preferably 6 onwards

Setting | Meeting Room

Time | 20 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Divide the group into teams of at least 3 members each
  2. Ask each team to discuss amongst themselves and come up with 5 to 10 different traits that are common and share by all of them. List them on a piece of paper.
  3. The objective is to identify as many common links that they share which are unique to their team. For example, all of us are married, or all of us are from Kuala Lumpur.
  4. The common links should not be too general or merely stating the obvious. For example, all of us have two eyes!
  5. After 5 minutes or an appropriate amount of time, get their attention, stop the discussion and have each team in turn to share their common links.
  6. Every time a common link is shared, check with other teams if they have the same link listed. If the link is unique only to the sharing team, then a point is given. Otherwise, it is a strike-off and no point is awarded.
  7. The team that scores the most points wins

Debrief |

Not necessary but you can share that although each of them are individuals, there will always be common grounds upon which they can start and build their team relationship on.

If there are any part of this instructions you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

Game – Human Knot Puzzle

About | This activity requires coordinated physical movements between team members in order to solve a human chain entanglement.

Goal | Encourage team members to communicate and lead-follow to solve a problem together.

Emphasis | Energizer, Communication, Leadership

Items | None!

Size | At least 8, the more the merrier

Setting | Open Space

Time | 15 minutes

Instructions |

  1. Have the team stand around closely in a small tight circle.
  2. Ask everyone to lift up their right hand, then grab and hold-on to the right hand of any person across the circle.
  3. Next, lift up their left hand, grab and hold-on to the left hand of another person across the circle.
  4. Tell them not to choose the hands of the person next to them and not to grab both hands of a same person.
  5. Now that every hand is engaged, ask the team to untangle to form a circle, WITHOUT letting go of each others hands at any time.
  6. If the group is big, divide them into two or more teams with equal participants and have them compete to untangle at the fastest time.

Debrief |

  1. Did all the people who made suggestions get listened to?
  2. Was there a leader and did others listen and follow?
  3. How did you hinder one another?
  4. How did you help one another?
  5. What can you learn from this exercise?

If there are any part of this instructions you want to clarify, leave me a comment.

24 Teambuilding Quotes You Can Use

These are some of my favourite teambuilding quotes. You can always use them in your debriefing after each teambuilding exercise. There are many more quotes out there but be careful to use those that are relevant to your audience and context so that your team can relate to them.

Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.
– Unknown

Light is the task where many share the toil.
– Homer

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
– Henry Ford

A championship team is a team of champions.
– Unknown

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.
– Unknown

Teams share the burden and divide the grief.
– Doug Smith

It is better to have one person working with you than three people working for you.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
– Kareem Abdul-Jabbor

No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way.
– Swahili proverb

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
– Michael Jordan

None of us is as smart as all of us.
– Ken Blanchard

No man is wise enough by himself.
– Plautus

A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.
– Japanese proverb

When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.
– Joe Paterno

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skill of the others.
– Norman S Hidle

It is amazing how much people get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit.
– Swahili proverb

There is no I in Teamwork.
– Unknown

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.
– H.E. Luccock

You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.
– Doug Floyd

Teamwork divides the task and double the success.
– Unknown

None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.
– Mother Teresa

It’s easy to get good players. Getting them to play together, that’s the hard part.
– Casey Stengel