I developed an icebreaker where participants received a quarter-page piece of paper with one letter printed on it. They then had to form three-letter words and the triad was given a topic to discuss.

The exercise only contained the letters A, E, O, N, R, S, T, W yet there were dozens (or more) words that the groups could form. Examples include too, now, not, toe, tow, tan, ran, own, was, war, won, saw, wet.

I used the icebreaker to open a nonprofit training on finance and related the lessons of the exercise to the session: that not all letters/data need to be included (as we talked about consolidation of the chart of accounts and how to simplify the data shared with boards) and the fact that some letters (i.e. vowels) had more impact than others – and the same was true of data where not all indicators are created equal.

It was a fun way to mix up the groups and was a memorable illustration of some of the key concepts of the session. You could adapt it to a creativity workshop (how many words can you make in X minutes) or make it more difficult by requiring four-letter words or challenging groups to form the longest word they can, or make the case that data points (like letters) don’t have meaning until you combine them to tell a story.

How do you spell success? In this interactive exercise, it’s W-O-W.

Download the letter template here.

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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