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Icebreaker for a large group of senior managers



I'm hoping someone can help, I could do with some inspiration... I am looking for a short icebreaker, say 20 mins, for a large group
(60 - 70) of middle & senior managers.

The icebreaker will be at the beginning of a half day Divisional away day, where two established divisions will become one,
with a new MD.

The outcomes I am looking to draw out of this exercise are:  We are one team, Need to share knowledge, Have fun but it may
be tough and uncomfortable, Adding value to everything they do...

 Any ideas would be truely appreciated.

 Kind regards


7 Responses

  1. Simple Icebreaker

    Covers teamwork, communication, leadership


    Split the group into small teams of say 8-10

    For each group split the group into two and then form two lines

    The two lines then need to face each other

    Each person needs to take there hands clench the fists in front of them and then extend their index  finger

    Take a bambo cane (the longer the better)  rest the cane across everyone’s index fingers so that the cane is supported by each individuals two index fingers

    The objective is for each team to place the cane on the floor whilst ensuring each individuals index fingers remain on the cane at all times.

    What will happen in most cases is that the cane will go up first before coming down.  As a facilitator you can play on this.

    The eventually winner will be the group that works together, one where a leader steps forward and the group communicate well.

    The other groups will just keep going up and up !

    Not sure if this makes sense can send a photo if you need

    [email protected]




  2. Icebreaker

    Hi Karen

    I know of not one Senior Manager who was ever in need of an "Icebreaker"

    Only offering a word or caution before you are offered too many "fun" activities that have no place in any type of training course in 2011…

    Give them something interesting and challenging and you will have the makings of a good event.



  3. Place for Fun

    I appreciate and wholly agree that irrelevant and ‘for the sake’ of it fun is pretty pointless and maybe even rude, but fun has it’s place where contextual, appropriate and has learning as a value-creating outcome.

    I’m always in awe of exercises (raft-building is the iconic representation of that), which are supposed to lead to ‘team-building’ where the basic relationships between managers/leaders and their people haven’t been built.

    There’s no quick-fix for basic people skills and they need work and application from managers who appreciate it. Fun is such circumstances has no place and, frankly, is an affront that only makes teams less likely to buy in – and no ‘fun’ at all..

    Martin Haworth

  4. How up for fun are they?

    Hi Karen,

    Here’s an exercise which will require them all to share their knowledge as part of a collective team and hopefully without seeming trivial or impeding on perceived dignity. It might take 60-70 people more than 20 minutes to complete though depending on how well they organise themselves… but there’s some learning in that though eh? ūüėČ


    • Find a section in a book or perhaps a journal which is relevant to the theme of the day / success of the business. It will need to contain at least 70 lines.
    • Enlarge the document to a very large size – A1 or A0 if possible
    • Slice it up into individual lines, one per delegate.
    • Before the start of the day place an individual line on the floor under each chair. If you have more lines than delegates, then some people may end up with two.
    • The challenge is to work together to recreate the original document by putting all lines in order.
    • Once the document is complete, display it proudly at the front of the stage (or other relevant area) while you congratulate & debrief them, drawing out whatever metaphors are relevant to reinforcing your theme.


    I hope that’s useful to you.


  5. There has to be some measurable outcome

    In my experience, anything that doesn’t add value to their day will be used as a tool to criticise the day, and therefore the integration, the change to 1 Department, the new MD, etc.

    I think the smaller groups idea works but should have a business focus.  2 suggestions:

    1. Place 8-10 flipcharts around the room.  Allocate a pair of gatekeepers per flipchart.  Each flipchart has one question, e.g. How can we possibly make this change successful, How can we possible be more profitable, etc.  The remainder of the group are put into groups of 6-8 and rotate around the flipcharts spending no more than 2 minutes on each recording their thoughts and opinions.  Your outcome will be 8-10 core business issues with immediate feedback from arguably, your most infuential groups.

    2. Create groups of 8-10 and provide each group with a similar question to above.  The task is for EVERY group to come up with 30 suggestions as to how to address them.  Make the questions challenging and focused on current and future business need.  After 4-5 minutes, allow groups to intervene with other groups to see what they can add.  Your outome will be the same business issues addressed (as above) but through a potentially more co-operative intervention.

    The key to these exercises being successful is in creating suitably challenging questions that resonate across the group.  The first time I ran it was poor – the lack of targeted questions was the key reason for failure.  The latest time it ran, the Director responsible was involved in identifying the themes from an early stage and, as a result, together we created questions around topics like:

    What are the business priorities within the next 6-12 months?
    How can we possibly reduce the impact of sickness absence in the workplace?
    What possible activities can we introduce to change our culture?

    Hope this helps.

  6. Thank you for your responses

    Thank you all very much, you have given me lots to think about and work on.

    Kind regards



  7. management icebreaker

    Not sure if this is on time but I will throw it up here because it looks like a winner for your needs.

    Divide group into two groups. Make 2 lines. When set up, each person should be facing one other person. There should be about one meter between each pair of people.

    Highlight an imaginary line on the floor which separates each pair of people.

    The challenge: use your negotiation skills and get the other person to cross the line and come to your side.

    Here are the key instructions: Use any method you wish. If the person crosses the line and comes to your side you win $100 (play money).

    Outcomes. Most people will use on these less than optimal methods. Nobody crosses a line, a stalememate. So, nobody gets the cash. Some people will use paper, rocks, scissors. It’s just luck. Not a great way to negotiate agreements. Some people will use force or a trick (e.g. with a handshake pull someone across the line). Trickey is a short-term solution and will lead to a bad reputation. Some people wil agree to split the cash. You come to my side and we’ll split the money 50-50. 50-50 is an okay negotiation settlement but not optimal.

    The best solution is for both people to cross the line. I come to your side and you come to my side. This way, each person gets the $100. That is the optimal solution.

    Learning point. When we try to think creatively and think about the other person’s needs – a win-win outcome is possible.


    It’s a 10 minute exercise in my classes, but always delivers a powerful message.

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