Pandora box and how creating an Ice breaker helped me as consultant

It’s not common for me to talk about something unrelated to code. But this is a great example how I learned that delivering value can be totally unrelated to code. Let me explain:

When I was living in Australia and working as a consultant in a local company, we have lots of good cases of agile delivery transformation. Also, I was working helping, but also learning with the team. In one scenario we had to completely change our mindset: we did some feature planning sessions, the code coverage of our codebase was increased from 8% to 80% (only this case can be other post by itself, but let’s focus on our case) and changing the state where we were scheduling deploys every 2 months for the one where now we are deploying our microservice ecosystem every week, looking forward to a scenario with continuous deployment.

But we had to change, and thinking in making this activity more productive and disruptive was when I had the idea to create a different ice-breaker called “Pandora box”. The mechanics is really simple and you will need:

  • pencil or sharpies;
  • post it’s;
  • people :);

The idea is for each person to be with a pencil and a post it and try to draw the best drawing they’ve ever made…but with the hand that you don’t usually use to write or draw. For example: if you use the right hand to write normally, you have to switch and use the left one. Do that in less than 1 minute!

These are the steps to make it happen:

  1. Pass your drawing clockwise.
  2. Choose who will be the first person to start the activity, then that person will describe what they understand the drawing is.
  3. Repeat until all have explained the drawing.

The reactions in the room were really interesting as some could describe exactly what the other person wanted to express, while others told a funny story out of it. In the end I explained to them the idea behind this ice-breaker which is to reflect on “how hard it is to think out-of-the-box”, move to the unknown or the unexplored and change your perspective. After that we did our meeting and as usual, we asked for feedback using the mood monitor (which I will describe in another post) to collect feedback and try to evolve the ceremony.

So, as you can see this was a small action from which we had good benefits as shown in the picture above: in a range between 1 to 5 all our team members added 4…for the first time!

That’s it. It was a really amazing experience creating an ice-breaker and seeing it’s results. The good outcome was a result of focusing in preparing the environment related with our objective: be disruptive.


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