It is common practice to engage in an “icebreaker” when a group of people who don’t know each other well are brought together, such as in a brainstorming session. The purpose of the icebreaker is to help individuals feel more comfortable and lessen the risk associated with opening up and sharing wacky ideas. So why doesn’t it always work? The answer is simple. At some point, usually after an arbitrary time limit, it is decided that the ice should be sufficiently broken and the game ends.
Take the icebreaker game “Two Truths and a Lie.” In any normal situation it is considered rude to deliberately lie to someone. Lying however, is expected and accepted in the reality of this game and no one would dare call you untrustworthy simply for following the rules of the game.
People follow the rules of the game no matter how restrictive or unordinary they may be i.e. you can defy the laws of physics and consider things that “aren’t real” without any consequence. Once the game is over, however, the rules of reality come back into play. Reality is a scary place.
In reality, people are routinely ostracized for straying too far outside the lines. John Lasseter, for example is currently the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar. He was originally fired from Disney for promoting 3D computer animation in an era when such an innovative idea was simply not plausible enough to be profitable.
Write down the idea you wish to discuss or the problem you wish to solve on the whiteboard and start playing a game. Bring toys and let the group develop their own game. See where it leads. Suspending reality as long as possible is the ultimate icebreaker.
~Kathleen Sales, Quartet Blog Author & Editor