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10 fun agile team building activities for cross-functional teams

Agile teams include individuals from different departments and backgrounds. Their pooled talent and experience give them a unique ability to produce valuable results.

 

Agile teams can be extremely effective. But their lack of past collaboration and limited lifespan can make it difficult to achieve a healthy internal rapport. 

 

Here are a few agile team building activities to bring your diverse team together and help them learn to act decisively. If you're in a startup, continue reading here.

Diver deeper into team building for specific roles:

Agile team building activities for different needs

Agile teams operate with fierce purpose. Their members often work in high-pressure environments where they must learn to bond, unify, and move toward an end goal quickly and effectively.

 

The remote world has only increased the team bonding challenges that agile teams face. So has the increasing inclusion of part-time and freelance professionals.

 

With so many things resisting unification, agile team leaders need the best tools to bring their teams together. What’s more, they need these tools to address the specific stages that their agile teams are in at any given moment. 

 

Here are some of the best team building ideas for agile teams. They are all remote-friendly (i.e., they’re good for team building online). We also split them into three categories: 

  • Ice breakers to get your team comfortable with one another.
  • Agile-focused games to spark some productive fun in your group.
  • Skill-based activities that improve Scrum and team-building skills.

Related: Team building for high-performance teams.

Agile games for team building

Agile teams focus on productivity and creating value. Sometimes the best way to facilitate that is to take a step back and spend some time bonding and having fun together. 

 

Here are a few virtual agile team building games that infuse some fun into the Scrum-driven proceedings.

#1 Create your team's theme song

Time: 60 minutes
Best for: Working creatively

Led by a multi-award-winning musical theater artist and songwriter, “Create Your Theme Song” is a fantastic way to inspire joy, connection, creativity and laughter, all while helping align your team on shared values and goals.  

Over the course of an hour, you’ll come together to create an original anthem celebrating the wonderful, weird and hilarious things about your team or company.

When the event is over, you’ll receive a professional recording of your song for everyone to enjoy in perpetuity.


Absolutely no music experience is required. Each event is unique and tailored to your group, and is bound to be a hilarious, engaging and unforgettable experience for all.


#2 Indulge in designing a chocolate bar

Time: 15 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Gamifying the scrum experience.

 

If your team is just shifting to an agile mentality, it can be challenging to get everyone used to the new mindset. Marketing a Chocolate Bar is one of those agile games for team building that makes the process a bit more exciting. All you need to do for this one is:

 

  1. Have your group choose a “product manager” for the game.
  2. Tell everyone else that they are in the role of the “customers.”
  3. Have the product manager create a chocolate bar selecting from different kinds of chocolate, fillings, and toppings.
  4. As they develop their candied masterpiece, they must ask the group for feedback on which attributes to choose.
  5. At the end of each round, they see how many people they’ve satisfied with the final product, collect feedback, and make adjustments.

 

This game is a great Scrum simulation. It involves feedback, iterations, and continual learning. Try it for a few rounds and see if each product manager can come up with a candy bar that satisfies everyone. 

#3 Literally make a sandwich

Time: 10 minutes.

Best for: Practicing working together as a team.

 

Learning to work together as a group is always challenging. When it comes to agile teams, in particular, diverse skillsets and limited time spent working together can make collaboration even more difficult.

 

If your team is struggling to be productive as a unit, bust out some peanut butter and jelly and play Make a Sandwich. For this one:

 

  1. Come together on a virtual conference platform.
  2. Ask one person to bring a plate, knife, bread, jelly, and peanut butter.
  3. Have another member of your team tell them every step to make the sandwich.
  4. Be as literal as possible to ensure that little details aren’t missed (for instance, they should say “open the bread bag” before they say “take two slices of bread out”.)

 

See if your team members can manage to construct the perfect PB&J.

 

If you want to up the ante a bit, have your group take turns giving instructions. This really adds some collaborative pressure to the activity. 

 

You can also change up the kind of sandwich you’re making. Cobbling together a Dagwood Sandwich is a bit more challenging!

#4 Solve a murder mystery

Time: 1 to 2 hours.

Best for: Learning to analyze together and grow as a group.

 

Murder mysteries are perfect Scrum games for team building. 

 

The retrospective part of operating as a Scrum team can be difficult. It’s hard to get used to analyzing and improving yourselves as a group activity.

 

One way to have a bit of fun honing this ability is by setting up a murder mystery game. You can do these in person, but there are also many alternative virtual murder mystery options that work just as well.

 

Playing this kind of game encourages your team to problem-solve together. They’re forced to look at the evidence. They need to read into past results. And ultimately, they have to come up with a solution that leads to an improved outcome in the future.

Skill-based agile team building activities

Operating as an agile team means you always want to improve. Continuous learning is a big part of this process. Here are a few team building activities that focus on helping your team hone their skills as a group.

#5 Listen carefully with Life Story in 5 Minutes

Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Best for: Practicing active listening.

 

A team needs to be able to listen to one another if they’re going to function seamlessly. Life Story in 5 Minutes helps your team learn to listen to one another. You can try the activity by:

 

  • Splitting your team into groups of 2. (Use break-out rooms if you’re on a video conference platform.)
  • Give each pairing 5 minutes for one person to tell the other their entire life story.
  • Reconvene and ask the listeners to report what they heard to the group.

 

This is a great way to practice active listening. For those who share what they heard last, it’s also a good chance to get better at retention and memory recall.

#6 Play Emoji Communication

Time: 5 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Learning to communicate better.

 

Communication goes hand in hand with active listening. It doesn’t matter how well someone listens if the information they’re receiving is poorly communicated.

 

Emoji Communication is a communication team building activity that works to overcome that issue by:

 

  1. Having one member of your team create a message using only emojis.
  2. Asking everyone else to write down what they think they said.
  3. Telling the original messenger to reveal the message and then comparing the interpreted results.

 

This is a sweet and simple way to overcome communication boundaries. Everyone approaches communication in a different way. It’s important to teach your team to acknowledge and be aware of these subtle differences throughout their time working together.

#7 Have everyone Stand Up

Time: 15 minutes.

Best for: Practicing following the Scrum model.

 

This is one of those Scrum team building games that mimics the stand-up portion of the Scrum model. Rather than having your team come together to make sure everyone is on the same page, this time, focus on individuals. 

 

All you need to do is ask each person to “stand up” (virtually is fine) and share an update. You can ask for specific guidelines to keep things on point. For instance, have them answer questions like:

 

  • What is their recent progress? 
  • What are they doing today? 
  • Do they need any help? 

 

This one may seem straightforward — and it is. It’s a great way to keep your team communicating and collaborating. It’s also a good way for each team member to learn from and inspire one another.

#8 Stay KALM

Time: 15 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Enhancing continual improvement.

 

Continual improvement and cultivating a growth mindset are key elements of an agile team. KALM is a great activity that helps keep the perpetual improvement going. This one starts by:

 

  1. Finding a physical or online whiteboard. 
  2. Creating four separate quadrants titled: Keep, add, less, and more (after the KALM acronym).
  3. Spending some time asking your team about the following:

 

  • What should you KEEP doing that is going well?
  • What should you ADD to your activities to make your next sprint better?
  • What should there be LESS of in your group’s interactions?
  • What should you do MORE of as you work together?

 

KALM is a great way to encourage your team to always think of how they can improve.

Ice breakers for agile teams

One of the first things you need to think about with an agile team are Scrum team building activities that get everyone on the same page. Use these effortless ice breakers to quickly get your team comfortable with one another.

#9 Play 10 Things in Common

Time: 10 minutes.

Best for: A quick bonding experience.

 

10 Things in Common is a great way to help your team learn more about one another in a hurry. All you need to do is tell your group that they have 10 minutes to find 10 things in common. 

 

The exercise is harder than it sounds. It’s also a good idea to give your team as few guidelines as possible. Let them figure things out. 

 

This leaves it to your group members to step up and take control of the situation. This can help you identify those with leadership potential (more on leadership team building here.) 

 

The activity also gently pushes your group to start collaborating through a low-stakes, high-pressure challenge.

#10 Run a quick round of Guess Who

Time: 5 to 15 minutes.

Best for: Learning more about individual team members.

 

Guess Who is another quick and free team building activity. It’s an ice breaker that focuses a bit more on each individual member of your team. For this one, you need to:

 

  1. Create a form with a handful of questions and email it to your team individually before you meet.
  2. Ask everyone to fill out the questionnaire and discreetly send their responses back to you.
  3. When you meet, take a few minutes to read someone’s responses aloud.
  4. See how long it takes for the group to guess who it is.

 

You can do several rounds in a row as an initial ice breaker. You can also do one per meeting and spread out the experience.

 

Either way, Guess Who helps your team learn a lot about one another in a short amount of time. It also establishes a sense of comfort, intimacy, and trust.

Mastering agile team building

Agile teams often operate under different criteria than other groups. They can face restricted time working together. They also have the potential to be very diverse with dramatic differences in talent and experience. The pressure to perform can also be a factor in a scrum setting.

 

With so many factors influencing your agile team, it’s important to put some serious thought into agile team building activities. Use ice breakers to warm everyone up. Try agile team building games to bring everyone together. Utilize agile skill-building activities to hone your group’s skills.

 

That way, your team can operate at peak efficiency each and every day.

Jaron Pak

Entrepreneur & Writer

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Free

15-30 min

No

No

Share fun facts and bond with a team quiz

Have your participants choose from a list of questions they’d like their coworkers to answer about them, before watching as they guess the right answer.

01. Yes

share-fun-facts-and-bond-with-a-team-quiz

Free

15-30 min

No

No

Run a guided recognition activity

Have your participants choose from a list of questions they’d like their coworkers to answer about them, before watching as they guess the right answer.

01. Yes

run-a-guided-recognition-activity

Paid

1-2h

Yes

No

Organize a virtual cooking class

Hire a professional chef to help your team cook a delicious lunch or dinner. May be difficult for co-workers with families. To find providers and get tips, read our blog about virtual cooking classes.

02. No

organize-a-virtual-cooking-class

Paid

15-30 min

No

Yes

Hire a stand-up comedian

Have your participants choose from a list of questions they’d like their coworkers to answer about them, before watching as they guess the right answer.

02. No

hire-a-stand-up-comedian

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Agile teams include individuals from different departments and backgrounds. Their pooled talent and experience give them a unique ability to produce valuable results.

 

Agile teams can be extremely effective. But their lack of past collaboration and limited lifespan can make it difficult to achieve a healthy internal rapport. 

 

Here are a few agile team building activities to bring your diverse team together and help them learn to act decisively. If you're in a startup, continue reading here.

Diver deeper into team building for specific roles:

Agile team building activities for different needs

Agile teams operate with fierce purpose. Their members often work in high-pressure environments where they must learn to bond, unify, and move toward an end goal quickly and effectively.

 

The remote world has only increased the team bonding challenges that agile teams face. So has the increasing inclusion of part-time and freelance professionals.

 

With so many things resisting unification, agile team leaders need the best tools to bring their teams together. What’s more, they need these tools to address the specific stages that their agile teams are in at any given moment. 

 

Here are some of the best team building ideas for agile teams. They are all remote-friendly (i.e., they’re good for team building online). We also split them into three categories: 

  • Ice breakers to get your team comfortable with one another.
  • Agile-focused games to spark some productive fun in your group.
  • Skill-based activities that improve Scrum and team-building skills.

Related: Team building for high-performance teams.

Agile games for team building

Agile teams focus on productivity and creating value. Sometimes the best way to facilitate that is to take a step back and spend some time bonding and having fun together. 

 

Here are a few virtual agile team building games that infuse some fun into the Scrum-driven proceedings.

#1 Create your team's theme song

Time: 60 minutes
Best for: Working creatively

Led by a multi-award-winning musical theater artist and songwriter, “Create Your Theme Song” is a fantastic way to inspire joy, connection, creativity and laughter, all while helping align your team on shared values and goals.  

Over the course of an hour, you’ll come together to create an original anthem celebrating the wonderful, weird and hilarious things about your team or company.

When the event is over, you’ll receive a professional recording of your song for everyone to enjoy in perpetuity.


Absolutely no music experience is required. Each event is unique and tailored to your group, and is bound to be a hilarious, engaging and unforgettable experience for all.


#2 Indulge in designing a chocolate bar

Time: 15 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Gamifying the scrum experience.

 

If your team is just shifting to an agile mentality, it can be challenging to get everyone used to the new mindset. Marketing a Chocolate Bar is one of those agile games for team building that makes the process a bit more exciting. All you need to do for this one is:

 

  1. Have your group choose a “product manager” for the game.
  2. Tell everyone else that they are in the role of the “customers.”
  3. Have the product manager create a chocolate bar selecting from different kinds of chocolate, fillings, and toppings.
  4. As they develop their candied masterpiece, they must ask the group for feedback on which attributes to choose.
  5. At the end of each round, they see how many people they’ve satisfied with the final product, collect feedback, and make adjustments.

 

This game is a great Scrum simulation. It involves feedback, iterations, and continual learning. Try it for a few rounds and see if each product manager can come up with a candy bar that satisfies everyone. 

#3 Literally make a sandwich

Time: 10 minutes.

Best for: Practicing working together as a team.

 

Learning to work together as a group is always challenging. When it comes to agile teams, in particular, diverse skillsets and limited time spent working together can make collaboration even more difficult.

 

If your team is struggling to be productive as a unit, bust out some peanut butter and jelly and play Make a Sandwich. For this one:

 

  1. Come together on a virtual conference platform.
  2. Ask one person to bring a plate, knife, bread, jelly, and peanut butter.
  3. Have another member of your team tell them every step to make the sandwich.
  4. Be as literal as possible to ensure that little details aren’t missed (for instance, they should say “open the bread bag” before they say “take two slices of bread out”.)

 

See if your team members can manage to construct the perfect PB&J.

 

If you want to up the ante a bit, have your group take turns giving instructions. This really adds some collaborative pressure to the activity. 

 

You can also change up the kind of sandwich you’re making. Cobbling together a Dagwood Sandwich is a bit more challenging!

#4 Solve a murder mystery

Time: 1 to 2 hours.

Best for: Learning to analyze together and grow as a group.

 

Murder mysteries are perfect Scrum games for team building. 

 

The retrospective part of operating as a Scrum team can be difficult. It’s hard to get used to analyzing and improving yourselves as a group activity.

 

One way to have a bit of fun honing this ability is by setting up a murder mystery game. You can do these in person, but there are also many alternative virtual murder mystery options that work just as well.

 

Playing this kind of game encourages your team to problem-solve together. They’re forced to look at the evidence. They need to read into past results. And ultimately, they have to come up with a solution that leads to an improved outcome in the future.

Skill-based agile team building activities

Operating as an agile team means you always want to improve. Continuous learning is a big part of this process. Here are a few team building activities that focus on helping your team hone their skills as a group.

#5 Listen carefully with Life Story in 5 Minutes

Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Best for: Practicing active listening.

 

A team needs to be able to listen to one another if they’re going to function seamlessly. Life Story in 5 Minutes helps your team learn to listen to one another. You can try the activity by:

 

  • Splitting your team into groups of 2. (Use break-out rooms if you’re on a video conference platform.)
  • Give each pairing 5 minutes for one person to tell the other their entire life story.
  • Reconvene and ask the listeners to report what they heard to the group.

 

This is a great way to practice active listening. For those who share what they heard last, it’s also a good chance to get better at retention and memory recall.

#6 Play Emoji Communication

Time: 5 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Learning to communicate better.

 

Communication goes hand in hand with active listening. It doesn’t matter how well someone listens if the information they’re receiving is poorly communicated.

 

Emoji Communication is a communication team building activity that works to overcome that issue by:

 

  1. Having one member of your team create a message using only emojis.
  2. Asking everyone else to write down what they think they said.
  3. Telling the original messenger to reveal the message and then comparing the interpreted results.

 

This is a sweet and simple way to overcome communication boundaries. Everyone approaches communication in a different way. It’s important to teach your team to acknowledge and be aware of these subtle differences throughout their time working together.

#7 Have everyone Stand Up

Time: 15 minutes.

Best for: Practicing following the Scrum model.

 

This is one of those Scrum team building games that mimics the stand-up portion of the Scrum model. Rather than having your team come together to make sure everyone is on the same page, this time, focus on individuals. 

 

All you need to do is ask each person to “stand up” (virtually is fine) and share an update. You can ask for specific guidelines to keep things on point. For instance, have them answer questions like:

 

  • What is their recent progress? 
  • What are they doing today? 
  • Do they need any help? 

 

This one may seem straightforward — and it is. It’s a great way to keep your team communicating and collaborating. It’s also a good way for each team member to learn from and inspire one another.

#8 Stay KALM

Time: 15 to 30 minutes.

Best for: Enhancing continual improvement.

 

Continual improvement and cultivating a growth mindset are key elements of an agile team. KALM is a great activity that helps keep the perpetual improvement going. This one starts by:

 

  1. Finding a physical or online whiteboard. 
  2. Creating four separate quadrants titled: Keep, add, less, and more (after the KALM acronym).
  3. Spending some time asking your team about the following:

 

  • What should you KEEP doing that is going well?
  • What should you ADD to your activities to make your next sprint better?
  • What should there be LESS of in your group’s interactions?
  • What should you do MORE of as you work together?

 

KALM is a great way to encourage your team to always think of how they can improve.

Ice breakers for agile teams

One of the first things you need to think about with an agile team are Scrum team building activities that get everyone on the same page. Use these effortless ice breakers to quickly get your team comfortable with one another.

#9 Play 10 Things in Common

Time: 10 minutes.

Best for: A quick bonding experience.

 

10 Things in Common is a great way to help your team learn more about one another in a hurry. All you need to do is tell your group that they have 10 minutes to find 10 things in common. 

 

The exercise is harder than it sounds. It’s also a good idea to give your team as few guidelines as possible. Let them figure things out. 

 

This leaves it to your group members to step up and take control of the situation. This can help you identify those with leadership potential (more on leadership team building here.) 

 

The activity also gently pushes your group to start collaborating through a low-stakes, high-pressure challenge.

#10 Run a quick round of Guess Who

Time: 5 to 15 minutes.

Best for: Learning more about individual team members.

 

Guess Who is another quick and free team building activity. It’s an ice breaker that focuses a bit more on each individual member of your team. For this one, you need to:

 

  1. Create a form with a handful of questions and email it to your team individually before you meet.
  2. Ask everyone to fill out the questionnaire and discreetly send their responses back to you.
  3. When you meet, take a few minutes to read someone’s responses aloud.
  4. See how long it takes for the group to guess who it is.

 

You can do several rounds in a row as an initial ice breaker. You can also do one per meeting and spread out the experience.

 

Either way, Guess Who helps your team learn a lot about one another in a short amount of time. It also establishes a sense of comfort, intimacy, and trust.

Mastering agile team building

Agile teams often operate under different criteria than other groups. They can face restricted time working together. They also have the potential to be very diverse with dramatic differences in talent and experience. The pressure to perform can also be a factor in a scrum setting.

 

With so many factors influencing your agile team, it’s important to put some serious thought into agile team building activities. Use ice breakers to warm everyone up. Try agile team building games to bring everyone together. Utilize agile skill-building activities to hone your group’s skills.

 

That way, your team can operate at peak efficiency each and every day.

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