Icebreakers: Break the Ice with Mind Mapping

May 5, 2021

Icebreakers are proven to be a great way to kick off a meeting. Whether it is to introduce new people, build relationships, or get warmed up for the activities to come. Therefore, we love a good icebreaker at fjorge to kick off a workshop. 

My personal favorite way to start a workshop is with an activity called mind mapping. During mind mapping, I ask everyone (including the fjorge team members) to take a few minutes to draw out their assumptions. I try to focus the assumptions on the following questions: 

  • What do we know about the market?
  • What do we know about the users? 
  • What do we know about the product and its history?
  • What bias are we bringing to the table? How do your personal experiences influence our relationship with the product? 

Mind mapping is a quick activity that should result in a low fidelity outcome. Creating a web-like structure helps to connect ideas to each other and understand how our brain is thinking. Bullet points, post-its, or journaling are all good options as well. The product of mind mapping might look like the following: 

After I give everyone a few minutes to get their thoughts on paper (or whiteboard), I have people share out their notes. If and when doing a workshop in person, I have two people pair and share. However, I have found that quite cumbersome to do virtually, so I have everyone share out to the whole group – normally making a brave fjorge soul break the tension to go first. 

It can be argued (and I agree), that mind mapping is way more than just any icebreaker. There are a few key parts to the process that are doing more than meets the eye. 

  1. Resets the mind

Many times, people come into meetings with expectations of what is about to happen. It could be someone’s fifth, sixth, or twelfth meeting of the day. Especially in a virtual world, checking out during meetings just happens. By taking the step back to ask everyone to take a minute alone with their thoughts, we are engaging each member in the meeting. Giving each person time to adjust to the meeting they are in, reset their mind, and get grounded to talk about the task at hand. 

  1. Builds connections 

More times than not, assumptions are shared with many people in the meeting. By having one person call it out, many others can chime in to show they are on the same page. Assumptions, especially when they are negative, can be really difficult to share out. Sharing these shows that there might be a larger issue at hand or, at least, shows that you are not alone in thinking a particular way. 

  1. Gets clients to use pen and paper

Having a client draw out what is in their mind can save so much time on communication. By getting the client warmed up with drawing out their thoughts, it is more likely they will continue to pick up the pen to express their thoughts throughout the session. 

For more about workshop activities, check out our posts on stakeholders, personas, empathy mapping, and journey mapping

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