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Let’s be Objective
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 07/01/2019

Prison e
This is a series of new icebreakers from Joe Bouchard, a retired 25 year corrections veteran and corrections writer. He wrote these icebreakers for the International Association of Corrections Training Personnel (IACTP). These are a part of over 200 icebreakers Bouchard has written for IACTP since 2007. To learn more about IACTP, please visit www.iactp.org.

“Let’s be objective - block Party” has it all: tactile tests, stand and deliver quizzes about group objectives, competition, and the possibility of a wooden tower falling apart. It also hints at the fragile nature of any entity in a growth process.

The game Jenga engages players of all ages. Players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses.

There are 54 blocks that are rectangular in shape. They are a few inches wide and made of wood. In playing this game, I have found that a spirit of friendly competition comes to the fore.

Another element of competition comes in the form of answering questions. In this case, the facilitator quizzes teams in term about group objectives.
  1. Have about ten questions related to group objectives on hand. (Please see below) For example, the facilitator announces partners in a task - Contractor, Architect, Building supplies staff. The expected answer would be something like “Building a house”.
  2. Stack the blocks in three to a row with the widest part of the block in a horizontal orientation.
  3. Next, stack the next three more on top of those perpendicularly. In other words, they must be staggered.
  4. Continue staggering the rows and stack in this fashion until you run out of blocks. If you did this correctly, you should have a tower of blocks with eighteen rows and three to a row.
  5. Have the first team answer a premade question about objectives. For example, the facilitator announces partners in a task - Contractor, Architect, Building supplies staff.
  6. If the first team names the objective as building a house or something close, the other team must draw a block and place it on top of the precarious stack. If the first team fails to name the objective, someone from their team must remove a block from the tower and stack it on top.
  7. As this continues, the tower gets more unstable and the tension builds. A toppled tower is the ultimate game stopper. It is interesting to see the interaction between teams as blocks are drawn.
  8. Bring it home to the audience:
    Display the mission statement of the agency or organization.
    Discuss the tasks and objectives in your organization.
    Lead a talk about the interconnectivity of these objectives
  1. Task 1 – Make bed
    Task 2 – Exchange dirty towels for clean
    Task 3 – Vacuum carpet
    Objective? – Cleaning a hotel room
  2. Task 1 – Press icon
    Task 2 – Check and possibly change status
    Task 3 – “Like” something posted by a friend or relative
    Objective? – Communicating on social media
  3. Task 1 – Paint the walls
    Task 2 – Apply decorations in primary colors
    Task 3 – Install the crib
    Objective? – Preparing a nursery
  4. Task 1 – Park in spaces on the street that others prefer
    Task 2 – Leave your trash cans at the curb all week
    Task 3 –Insult your neighbor in front of many witnesses
    Objective? – Becoming the neighbor from hell
  5. Task 1 – Look out back window
    Task 2 – Check mirrors
    Task 3 – Shift car in reverse and press accelerator lightly
    Objective? – Backing up a vehicle
  6. Task 1 – Press the on button or tap any key
    Task 2 – Type username and place cursor in password box
    Task 3 – Type password and press enter button
    Objective? – Logging in to your computer
  7. Task 1 – Place thimbleberry jam, Trenary Toast, a Hilltop Sweet roll in a bag
    Task 2 – Add brochures from local tourist attractions and a pasty cookbook
    Task 3 – Add mosquito repellant (bug dope) and a waterfalls guide for the area
    Objective? – Making a Yooper gift bag
    Note: A Yooper is a resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
  8. Task 1 – Place coin in slot or apply credit
    Task 2 – Pull handle towards you or press play button
    Task 3 – Pray, stare, cast incantations, face north, tug on your lucky shirt or invoke any benevolent wood spirit through knocking
    Objective? – playing a slot machine
  9. Task 1 – Slide out tray
    Task 2 – Pull debris from the area
    Task 3 – Discard, as it is flammable and dirty
    Objective? – Removing lint from a clothes dryer
  10. Task 1 –Review literature on topic
    Task 2 – Discover and apply objectives of training
    Task 3 – Create related game with audience, time limits and objectives in mind
    Objective? – Producing an icebreaker or classroom exercise

Joe Bouchard is a retired corrections veteran and writer with 25 years of experience. At the time of his retirement, he was employed as a librarian by the Michigan Department of Corrections and was collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence" among others. The installments in this series include his opinions. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.


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