Chess board and timer on a table

Gaming the ice breaker

Our team went to an external event to socialise with colleagues from a company who are frequent collaborators. Most people had not yet met one another. We were put into groups with a mix of four people from the two organisations. This is the first time I’ve seen an ice breaker turned into a competition. It led to mixed results.

We had to find as many things in common with one another from three categories:

  1. three points for common things related to our work in behavioural insights (the use of behavioural and social science evidence in policy),
  2. two points for the countries we picked (I had Portugal), and
  3. one point for personal things.

Some questions were full-on: what have we tried and failed at work (we skipped this). Other questions were revealing: have we ever tried to use behavioural insights on someone in our personal lives? That’s a ‘no’ from me and others, and yes for one person – to get their partner to do housework.

We got almost 100 points in around 15 minutes because one of our team members worked out a system to win (and was much less interested in the socialising aspect). They suggested we answer the questions with the most points first. These questions were the hardest, but they meant we got ahead early.

It was an interesting exercise on motivation. Three of us were happy to chat, but one dominant person, who outranked the rest of us, was fixated on winning, even though we did not know what the reward would be.

In the end, our team won these cute donuts (below). I don’t eat donuts so I gave away this little guy to my friend.

A blue icing donut with googly eyes and mouth eating a biscuit

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