Your new team is sitting around the table for the first time. No one knows each other yet, and they are all looking at you. What do you do?
What most people do is go around the table and have everyone say their names and their role and everyone tries to look attentive during the resulting monotone. Sometimes, people will add a little spice and invite the group to divulge a smidge from their personal life, but it’s hard to calibrate out the awkward.
By Day, By Night
Sarah Stein Greenberg, the executive director at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (aka the d.school), has the perfect tidy design method to do just about everything, including introductions. At a recent conference where we were facilitating, she pulled out By Day, By Night. I had known Sarah for years and only then learned about her incredible underwater photography.
How to Use It
Go around the room, and invite each person to fill in the blanks:
“By day…” and add whatever they do by day. It invites a more open response than stating your job title.
“By night…” and add anything they wish. This is where it gets interesting, since people are invited to reveal what they are passionate about and the bonds begin to build bonds across the group.
As the person running the meeting, go first so everyone has an example of what and how much they should say. In a group larger than 8, simply complete the sentence, which will plant some curiosity and spark conversations later. In a smaller group, there’s room to expand on anything interesting or surprising.
Try it and let me know how it goes.