Ice-breakers or ice-makers?

Jack Martin Leith (a facilitator of innovation) and I had a chat once about icebreakers. He (also a facilitator) said he didn’t like the word “ice-breaker” as it assumes “ice” is in the room right from the start. I agree.

The term “energiser” might be better, but even that assumes that energy is low and somehow needs to be lifted. Energy might need to be changed in some way but is it always low at the start? I think, quite the opposite.

So, what is that first, fifteen minute activity? Is it an “orienter”? or an “opener”?
It almost feels like there’s a whole book that might be entitled “Beginnings and Endings – a guide to what to do at the start and end of workshops” !!!

One view seems to be that we need not name the opening activity at all. Another is to not have a specific opening activity but just to “dive right in”. Another is to rename or recast the word “icebreaker” into some other term.

There’s also something key about being prepared to readily abandon whatever was in our plan and improvise our own facilitation around the “in the moment” needs of participant. What comes to mind here is the expression: Doing good and do-gooding are far from the same thing.

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