The constellation exercise is a very gentle icebreaker, which allows team members to get to know each other, visually see the diversity in the team, and also express safely their opinions on different topics, sometimes very hot ones. It comes from a seminal book Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.
Time: 5-15 minutes
Constellation icebreaker is a good fit for:
- New teams, where people are just getting to know each other and where they might not feel very comfortable yet.
- Teams with introverted members as it is a very safe and delicate way to share some parts of their personality and express their opinion without talking
- Teams who work together for a longer time, not only to get to know each other better but also to start digging into more serious or conflicting topics.
- At social events – just as icebreaker, making people move, relax and observe a diversity.
- Ensure enough space in the room.
- Put some object in the center; it will represent the center of the constellation.
- Invite the participants to form a circle around this center.
- Explain the rules: you will read some statements, and for each of the statements, the participants should gravitate toward or away from the center object as if it were a scale. The closer to the center object, the more true that statement is for them, and the farther away, the less true it is for them.
- Once in their chosen location, invite them to look around and see where their teammates stand, the “constellation of people” created for the statement. Make sure they understand the purpose of the activity – to learn about one another.
- When all your prepared statements have been read, ask people themselves to come up with their statements on the topics they would like to know about their team members.
You can also run this icebreaker virtually, using an online whiteboard, like Miro or Mural. Create a virtual badge for every participant, with their name, photo or avatar on it, in advance (or you all can create them in the beginning, using some pre-made template). Mark the center of the constellation with an icon, emoji, stamp, image etc. After listening to a statement, participants move their badges closer or further from the center.
- Start with easier statements and eventually go to more profound ones; people will be more open to answering those difficult questions.
- If you use this icebreaker during a training, add also statements related to a training topic
- As it turned out, many non-native English speakers don’t know what the word Constellation means. Be prepared to explain it, or find in advance how this word is written in the participants’ native languages. Here is an example from one of our trainings (we used this paper as a center of our constellation)
Examples of statements:
- I had a good lunch
- I feel very energized now
- I am rather tired now
- I am an Introvert rather than an Extrovert
- I am an Extrovert rather than an Introvert
- I am Soccer fun
- I am Party Animal
- I prefer spending my free time actively
- I prefer spending my free time moving as little as possible
- I am a Cat Person rather than a Dog Person
- I am a Dog Person rather than a Cat Person
- I like political talks
- I like speaking in front of people
- I like board games
- I like visiting ballets and opera
- I like visiting art museums
- I like doing sports
- I like cooking
- I like gardening
- I enjoy time alone
- My happiest times are when I’m in nature
- I like to make things with my hands
- I like surprises
- I do not like uncomfortable silence and work to fill it in
- I tend to avoid conflicts
- I think in conflicting situations, we should try to find a compromise
- In conflicting situations I usually let the other side win
- In conflicting situations, I try to make my opinion win
- I enjoy public recognition
- I am quite competitive
- I feel comfortable providing direct feedback
- I feel comfortable receiving feedback
- I am a perfectionist
- I am frustrated when there is a lack of order.
- I don’t mind bending the rules to get things done
- I like working as a part of a team more than alone
- I feel more of accomplishment working individually than as a team
- Sometimes, I am puzzled by behaviors of people in my team
- I think that my team likes me
- I am very satisfied how we work as a team
- Ask your own question 😊
Other icebreakers on Diversity