108 Ice breaker questions for agile teams.
A list of thought provoking, silly, unexpected and occasionally deep questions to ask you team members.
My role often involves wrangling a morning meeting with an unfamiliar team. These might be daily stand up meetings, a series of workshops or something else, but one thing is certain, many of the people will have been thrown into an unfamiliar group who have little social cohesion.
As people are gathering for the morning chat, I’ve found that asking a question at the beginning of the session can help to get people talking, help us to learn about each other and bring the team members together. It’s a classic team building trick and I find it works really well. Many of the answers given go on to form the basis of ongoing team “in-jokes”; a true sign that the team is beginning to see each other as more than just colleagues.
I was first introduced to this approach when I worked with an agile consultancy a few years ago. They had a pack of playing cards with questions and I’ve used their pack with various team. However, I often churn through the pack (there are only 56 cards in a standard pack of playing cards) and needed more. At this point I began to jot down new questions as they occurred to me and now I’m sharing them with you.
A note on asking the questions
I tend to randomly rotate the order in which I ask people the question to give everyone the chance to speak first. With a new team, I tend to start with the more extroverted people, as this gets the conversation going. Then, once the format is better understood (and everyone can see it’s non-threatening!) I give less outgoing people the first go .
Sometimes people are stumped or don’t want to play; that’s fine, just move on, it’s not a serious activity. During this morning’s stand-up, two people just couldn’t think of an answer, so we laughed about it and moved on.
After you’ve tried these questions a few times, perhaps after the first week, I’d suggest you ask the team if they want to carry on with them. After all, it’s just for fun! In all likelihood you’ll have “read the room” and, if it’s causing suffering amongst the team, you’ll already have pulled the activity. As with everything on an agile team, if it’s not working, just stop it!
As with all things, some questions may not be appropriate for your audience, so try to be sensitive!
Anyway, enough talking about the questions… here they are…
These questions are designed to make people laugh, get people talking and generate in-jokes for your team.
- How’s your eyesight?
- What’s a film you’ll always watch if you stumble across it on TV?
- What’s your favourite item of clothing?
- Who is your favourite superhero?
- When did you last wear a hat?
- What’s your favourite crisp flavour?
- Do you like olives?
- Do you have a favourite board game? If so, what is it?
- Have you ever skinny dipped?
- Have you ever brushed your teeth in the shower?
- What’s the last video game you played?
- Who taught you to ride a bike?
- Do you prefer Coke, Pepsi or something else?
- Do you have a favourite word?
- What’s your favourite cartoon?
- What fillings do you put in a sandwich?
- What’s a guilty pleasure you enjoy?
- Do you put stickers on your laptop?
- When did you last ride a bike?
- Do you prefer dogs or cats?
- Tell us something weird about a teacher you had when a child?
- How do you like your eggs in the morning?
- How long can you hold your breath?
- Do you like Marmite?
- You have to cook a meal for the Queen, what do you cook?
- Do you talk in your sleep?
- Do people ever say that you look like someone famous?
- What’s your favourite type of biscuit?
- What’s bin (garbage) day like in your area?
These questions are a little deeper, they’ll get people thinking harder and may provoke lively conversation.
- What’s the best thing you’ve ever done in work?
- If you could go back in time, where would you go?
- What’s the first news story you became aware of in your life?
- What’s something, not work related, that you should understand but don’t?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What was the best thing that happened in the last week?
- What’s the worst customer service experience you’ve endured? Or the best?
- What’s a skill that you would love to have?
- Why was your best teacher your best teacher?
- Is your glass half full or half empty?
- Are you a spender or a saver?
- Who from history would you like to talk to, and why?
- What type was the first computer you owned?
- What inspires you?
- Are you a hoarder?
- Have any of your ancestors done anything extraordinary?
- Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, what are they?
- What was the best holiday you’ve ever had?
- Do you take paper or electronic notes?
- Do you ever shop in charity shops?
- What’s the best thing you bought in the last year?
- What’s the furthest north you’ve ever been?
- What was the first work you were ever paid for?
- If you could enact a new law, what would it be?
- Could you survive on a desert island?
- If you could have any job, what would you choose?
- You have been given £100,000 and can keep anything you can buy in the next hour, what do you do?
These questions are designed to come out of left-field and catch people by surprise, hopefully causing the odd laugh or two.
- What’s the worst present you were ever given?
- What’s your pet peeve?
- What was the last fancy dress costume you wore?
- How many cups of tea do you drink each day?
- Have you ever pulled and all-nighter? Why?
- Can you draw?
- How much money do you have on you right now?
- What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from your current location? Where was it?
- What’s your bedtime?
- Do you like fireworks?
- What’s the biggest prize you’ve ever won?
- Have you ever had a DIY disaster?
- Do you have pets?
- Who puts the bins out in your house?
- What’s the oldest gadget or device you still use regularly?
- Do you know a good builder?
- Have you ever ripped your clothes whilst away from your home?
- What was the first certificate you earned?
- Do you use social media? Which one the most?
- Have you ever had any food stolen by an animal or bird?
- What playground games did you play as a child?
- Have you ever done a parachute jump?
- Where’s the poshest place you’ve ever eaten? Did you enjoy it?
- Have you ever acted in a play or film?
- What event did you do in your school sports day?
- Do you have a spurious claim to fame?
- Would you rather be hot or cold?
- Would you know how to gut and prepare a fish?
- What was your favourite lesson in school?
- You’re accidentally selected for the Olympic team. What sport do you stand a chance in?
- What in your house could you pass off as a modern art exhibit?
- Have you ever set anything on fire by accident?
- What can’t you resist buying?
- Are you a good swimmer?
- Do you keep a diary?
- Of all the creatures in the world, which would you have as a pet if it were suddenly practical to do so?
- What craft did you do when you were young, or now?
- What’s your favourite of the Star Wars films?
- Were you a member of any clubs when you were young?
- Tell us something interesting about your home town?
- How many tabs do you have open on your personal internet browser?
- What’s the oldest item in your possession?
- If you had to, would you rather eat a tarantula or 3 slugs?
- Do you have a karaoke song?
- What’s the furthest you’ve ever walked in a single day?
- Would you like to take a trip into space?
- What’s a word you always misspell?
- Are you a tidy person?
- What’s something that you used to hate, but now like?
- What’s a good TV series we should all watch?
- What was the last live music you saw?
- Have you got any trophies, if so, what were they awarded for?
That’s going to keep me busy for the next 100 days, I hope you find them as useful as I will!