Imaginings for Greatness

*Special thanks to Wael Badawy for permission to share this modified version of his exercise

 This exercise is great because it:

Can be done in small to large size groups 

Very light exercise idea for “getting to know you” scenarios

Relatively easy to explain and execute

Draws on an individual’s ingenuity

Helps individuals recognize shared areas of greatness



Flipchart, whiteboard or PowerPoint slide

Flipchart or whiteboard markers (if needed)




1. Have the questions below written on a flipchart, whiteboard or PowerPoint slide.

2. Explain you will be seeking out a partner to ask one of the questions provided (or one you choose along a similar vein). As soon as you have followed the steps, find a new partner. Meet as many folks as you can in the time provided.

3. One person asks one of the following questions while the other answers:

a. If you were to pick any animal, what kind of animal would I be and why?

b. If you were to pick any book, what would be my title and why?

c. If you were to pick any food, what kind of food would I be and why?

d. If you were to pick any mode of transportation, what kind would I be and why?

e. If you were to pick any musical instrument, what kind of instrument would I be and why?

4. Reverse roles and repeat the questions above.

5. Identify a word that summarizes a strength/greatness that is shared.

6. Individuals continue to find new partners following steps 3 to 5.

7. Use the noisemaker to call the group back together.

8. (Optional) Ask: How many people did you meet in this exercise? Hands up if it was 2. 3? 4? [Continue until you have one or a few people who met the most. Encourage claps!]

9. (Optional) Give a prize to the one/few people who met the most folks.


Debriefing Questions:

What surprised you about what your partner said?

What did you discover about yourself that you never knew or considered before?

How easy or difficult was it to identify shared strengths and areas of greatness?

What were some of the strengths, new to you, which your partner highlighted?

The folks that met the most individuals, could you summarize the most common themes you heard about the greatness in this room?


Translation to a Work Setting:

Use this exercise as an icebreaker for new teams or multidisciplinary teams.

Use as a prep to conduct a “resource gossiping” exercise in a meeting or training session to enable people to learn about each other at their best.

Leaders can use to recognize the strengths of each team member as well as appreciate how the collective strengths contribute to the overall success of the team.

During demanding, challenging or stressful times, it can be used as a morale booster to provide levity and remind people their presence and contributions make a difference.

Can shift the question to “if you were” to “if this team was”… or “if this project was…” or “if our customer was…” to fit next work contexts. Similarly can use to adjust to school and community settings.


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