Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Breaking the ice on day 2 with Human Spectrogram

Day 2 started with an icebreaker called "Human Spectrogram". Nancy and I placed a tape across the middle of the room to symbolise a spectrogram. The idea is to pose a question (or statement) and give people the option to position themselves on the spectrogram.

The questions we posed were:
  • Do you come from a landlocked country or a non-landlocked one?
  • Do you prefer tags or taxonomies?
  • Do you want to know more about KS tools or KS methods?
  • Do you like Pizza or Pasta?
  • Do you talk or listen?
  • Facebook or Facewhat?

After each question, the facilitator made quick interviews of people along the line about why they were standing where they were standing on the line. We had deliberately selected both serious as well as light questions.

Some of the feedback from the debrief was:
  • It was fun and easy (good morning icebreaker)
  • It polarizes people
  • The questions that are selected are extremely important in making the icebreaker work or not
  • Helps understand team members and their preferences and thoughts on specific topics
  • It was good to have a mix of serious vs not-serious questions
  • When using this in a professional context and not just as an icebreaker, it is important to define the two poles clearly (pasta vs. pizza is easy but in terms of work this might not be easy)
Possible variations could be:
  • Understand what people think about specific topics of importance. An example was given where each person was given a piece of paper with different activity related to corruption on it, for example, bribing an official, fiddling with personal finance, etc. Then each person was asked to position themselves on where they thought the activity on their piece of paper was on the grid between not so corrupt to very corrupt.
  • Because in some cultures and work environments people might feel forced to choose between the given options, one variation could be to give them a third option (not on the spectrogram) which is more neutral. This would be good for those who don't feel that they fit on the line. For example, some people might not like either Pizza or Pasta!
For every method, there is a need for context and adaptation. With every method, it works for some people and not for others. I am glad we tried this out on Day 2 when participants had gotten a chance to get to know each other a little bit.

Do you have other variations of this method that you have been using?


Simone Staiger said...

Thank you Gauri for allowing me and others who are not with you in Rome to follow the workshop!
Great job!

Gauri Salokhe said...

Thanks Simone! I haven't had a chance to post much today but will be posting notes later in the day. Do keep giving your feedback! Helps me know someone is reading! :)