The Four Quadrants is a tried and true team building activity to break the ice with a group or team.
It is EASY to prep for and set up. It can be MODIFIED to work with any group and/or topic (just change the questions). It is FUN, COLORFUL and VISUAL.
To break the ice with a group or team.
- Flipchart and markers for each participant
The steps to facilitate The Four Quadrants activity:
- Give each participant a piece of flip chart paper and some markers.
- Ask them to divide their flip charts into four quadrants.
- Ask them to DRAW (not write) their response to four questions (one for each quadrant).
- Give them about 5-10 minutes to work individually.
- Then, regroup and give each person 4-10 minutes (depending on your time frame) to share their chart and responses with the group.
Here are the questions Cheryle used with our group:
- What do I bring to the group?
- What do I need from the group?
- What is your hobby?
- What is your vision for this group?
You can change the questions to work with any group. For example, below are questions Michael Barrett, Resonance LLC used with a non-profit Board of Directors. He said when they shared their charts with each other some were moved to tears.
- What do you BRING to this organization?
- What do you NEED from this team?
- What LEGACY do you want to help create through this organization?
- What is one event that FUNDAMENTALLY shaped your life?
I used the questions below with a team that was working on improving how they communicated to each other when under stress. It was remarkable how much they opened up and learned about each other even though many had worked together for years.
- A current challenge I am facing outside of work…
- The types of things that stress me the most at work…
- What I need you to understand about me when I am under stress…
- What I need you to do when I am under stress…
Other questions you could insert:
- Defining moment (personal or professional)
- Moment of pride (personal or professional)
- Worst fear (for the group, personally or professional)
- Desired outcome for this day/session/series of meetings
- Greatest challenge for this group
- Greatest success for this group
This activity is so wonderful because you can write any four questions that you think will work for your group. Or have fun with it and let them come up with their own questions. Just think about what you want your group to know about each other.
What four questions will you use to get your next group engaged and sharing with one another? Please share your ideas by commenting on this method below.
Tips for running this activity online
- Pick an online whiteboard tool that allows to use a large, zoomable canvas (e.g. Mural or Miro)
- Users can either draw their quadrant on paper and upload an image into the board, or draw it digitally
- In the reflection step, invite users to navigate to the quadrant of the person speaking
- If you don’t have an online whiteboard tool, you can use Slack or Google docs to share and comment on the created images
- If using video conferencing software alone, invite the participants to share their screen and show their digital image, or hold up their physical drawing for the group to see
- If you want to add a fun extra dimension, encourage people to sketch quickly and if using digital tools, allow no deleting or erasers. Bad drawings can be fun to try and decode as a team.
Source and further ideas for the questions
You can get more suggestion for the questions at the original source of this activity on the Better Teams blog together with more team building ideas.