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the Balloon Battle

The Balloon Battle is a great energizer to get everyone moving while creating a situation to
introduce some concepts like team strategy, team work, collaboration, partnership and win-win

running the activity

1. instruct everyone to tie a balloon to their left foot (you need balloon and strings for all

everyone gets a balloon and a string
3. divide the large group into several smaller groups
4. instruct everyone about the teams mission and the game duration:
All teams have the same goal: to protect the team balloons. The game goes for 3
minutes, at the end we will count and announce the team with highest number of the full
5. Say go and count down 3 minutes.

The Baloon Battle

Typically the participants will have lots of fun. Many people might run around and attack other
people balloons. At the end of the game you can have conversations about team work, team
strategy, perception of responsibility, and my favorite: the competitive human nature, which, at
times, work against a win-win situation. For instance, if no one moves and attack other people
balloons, every team accomplishes the goal of protecting the teams balloons, and every team
ends the highest number of full balloons. Interesting enough, I have never seen or heard about
this outcome.

Visual phone
Visual phone is a great energizer to get everyone engaged while fostering a conversation about
communication and interpretations.
Running the activity
1. Break the large group into groups of three people (one or two groups can have four
2. Place three post it and a pen in front of each person
3. Ask everyone to write a sentence (on a post it), then place a blank post it on top of it (for
now only the sentence author knows it)
4. Everyone pass the post it clockwise

5. Each person read the sentence from the post it in front of them, and then create a
representative drawing for the sentence (on the blanket post it)
6. Everyone pass the post it clockwise.
7. On a new post it, each person write a sentence for the drawing in front of them, and place
it on top of the post it set (now the set has 3 post its; the original sentence, the drawing,
and the new sentence)
8. Everyone pass the post it set clockwise (for the groups of three people, the set should end
in front of the original sentence writer)
9. Open the post it set so everyone can see the sentences and respective drawings.

sample result (original sentence -> drawing -> new sentence)

Typically the participants will laugh and have a great time comparing drawings and the
This is a great energizer with a sublime massage about communication (visual and written),
context and interpretations.

This is an adaptation from an activity I have learned on a UX (User eXperience) workshop by

my dear UX friends Natalia Arsand, Glauber Ramos, Juliana Dorneles and Gabriel Albo. They
have learned it from the Human Centered Design workshop by IDEO. Other posts about this
activity: Visual Telephone and Drawing Telephone.
Punctual Paulo

This is a quick activity to help team members remember each others names.
Running the Activity
1. Ask the participants to think about an adjective that begins with the same letter as their name.
2. Form a circle and ask each participant to say their name with the adjective, in turns
3. After all the participants speak, ask them to go clock-wise telling the name and adjective for
the person at their side.
4. After a few turns, ask the participants to repeat step 3 going anti clock-wise.
Hi, Im Punctual Paulo!

Besides sharing some laughs and breaking the ice, this activity will also help the team to
associate peoples names with some adjective, making it easier to remember.
Forming triangles

The forming triangles activity is a great energizer with a valuable message on self organizing
teams. I have used it from small to large groups of people.
Running the activity:
This activity is to be run twice.

First run:
The facilitator asks the group to walk (individually) in a random direction
When the facilitator says the magic word triangle, each group member has to find
other 2 people and from an equilateral triangle (each person is a triangle vertices,
and should point each arm toward the other two people representing the other
triangle vertices; each person is a triangle vertice on one triangle only).
The facilitator takes the time of how long it took the group to from the triangles.
Second run
The facilitator selects one person to be the group triangle organizer.
The facilitator asks the group to walk in a random direction
When the facilitator says the magic word triangle, the group triangle organizer
has to form equilateral triangles with all group members (including himself in one of
the triangles).
The facilitator takes the time of how long it took the group to form the triangles.
Conversation to follow

The first run shows a self organizing group; the second run show a group guided by
one organizer (the group triangle organizer).
Typically, the self-organizing triangle formation runs faster than its counterpart, and
the team feel more engaged on the activity.
I find this activity very useful for starting a conversation about self organizing
I learned this activity from Heitor Roriz, a friend and Scrum coach and trainer from
one of his trainings. Kudos to him for applying a fun activity for fostering the
conversation about an essential concept of successful agile teams: selforganization.

Letters to the Future

This activity is appropriate for when the team needs to look ahead and reflect about the future,
thinking about what they expect to happen in a given time frame.
Running the activity
1. Ask the participants to think about the given context, and individually choose a person for
whom they would like to send a letter in the future. (it can be the product owner, project
manager, another team member; whoever they think is appropriate)
2. Ask the participants to individualally write a short letter (one to two sentences) to that person,
saying whatever they want. It can be, for example, congratulating the receiver for an
accomplishment; or maybe explaining how the team was able to do something. The letter should
have a date in the future.
3. Read the letters out loud, discuss and keep them for the future.
One interesting aspect of this activity is who the participants write the letter to. Some will think
about the PO, others will think about a manager and some may even address the letter to the
team. This helps to surface who each person is concerned about, and what are the things that they
want to accomplish or see as possible problems.

Defining Nirvana
This is a great team building activity that focus on creating a common goal.
Running the activity:
1. Write the word Nirvana on the top right corner of the canvas.
2. Break the team into smaller groups of 3 or four people each
3. Ask each group to write a short sentence to describe the nirvana
4. Each group presents their short sentence describing the nirvana
5. Create one common sentence defining nirvana
Please find below a sample photo after running this activity

What is our Nirvana?

It is very interesting to see how this simple question gets the participants very engaged, and then
aligned. This activity is a great first step towards preparing the path for reaching the Nirvana.
Path to Nirvana

Path to Nirvana is a great futurospective activity for goal alignment and for visualizing smaller
steps towards a big achievement.
Running the activity:

Write the word Nirvana on the top right corner of the canvas, with a short
sentence describing it (either defined by one person, or as a result of the defining
nirvana activity)

Draw a timeline on the canvas, having the word today on the left most side.

Write down major events or time periods on the timeline (e.g. Christmas
holidays, summer school vacation, July, month one, month six)
Ask the participants to add notes for smaller steps towards the path to
Group conversation on the path to nirvana, with action items (use a different
post it color)
Below is a sample Path to Nirvana photo by Jos Pedro de Santana Neto. He have
used this activity on a major software conference for discussing Agile adoption for a
very large institution.

Pre-mortem activity
The pre-mortem activity is great for preparing for an upcoming release or challenge. With a
different perspective, the activity guides the participants to talk about all that could go wrong.
Then the conversation switches to a mitigation and action plan.
Running the activity
1. draw the pre-mortem canvas with the main topic for discussion

sample pre-mortem canvas

what will go wrong?

how will this end in disaster?

2. ask the participants to individually write down risks and concerns

assume the plane is going to crash (the project will end on disaster). answer the following
3. coordinate participants to add their notes to the canvas:
forming affinity groups, one note at a time.

4. add a new theme color for mitigation (light blue on the photo below) , and ask the participants
to write down notes related on how to mitigate the risks and concerns.
5. group conversation and action plan
Below is a sample result after running this activity.