What is the Drawing From 4 Corners icebreaker? ✍️
This exercise is a beautiful way to build psychological safety and belonging in a team by creating a connecting experience outside the comfort zone. It can be used with groups of people who do not know each other and established teams.
In this exercise, you’ll split participants into four-person breakouts. Everyone will draw from one of the four corners of a whiteboard in silence for ten minutes—no talking allowed.
The basic idea of the exercise is to carry out a common task in silence. The instructions are straightforward and general, which forces the participants to carry them out following their interpretation.
It exposes participants' assumptions and step-by-step turns from an individual into a collaborative task, fostering psychological safety and belonging in the group or team.
The exercise can be reflected and debriefed, focusing on a range of topics, which gives the facilitator flexibility.
For established teams, it serves as an indicator for the facilitator of the level of psychological safety in the team. This allows the facilitator to adapt and focus on building more safety in the workshop.
How to run this icebreaker
- Prepare breakouts of 4 participants (no more than 5). A simple blank Butter whiteboard has already been added to each room. The breakout will run for 10 min.
- Before sending groups off, give them the following instructions: “You will spend the next 10 minutes in breakouts. In each breakout, you’ll find a simple whiteboard. Upon arrival in the room, pick a pencil color. Then, start drawing from a different corner of the whiteboard. If you are five people, the fifth person can start from one of the sides of the whiteboard. There is only one rule: You are not allowed to talk AT ALL for the duration of the breakout. Only talking is not permitted; laughing, signaling, etc., is allowed.”
- Inform them that you’ll observe and join the rooms at random.
- Open the breakouts and use the ‘Observe’ feature. Randomly join rooms to check on progress. Ask if they have questions. If someone asks, "What should we draw?" simply repeat, "Draw." Follow the dynamic in the room and refrain from commenting. Do not stop at the first sign of frustration, but encourage the participants to draw if someone seems to struggle.
- Before the time is up, visit each room and snap a screenshot of their “work.” Open a new whiteboard in the main room and add all the screenshots.
- Once back, open the whiteboard with all the screenshots and run a reflection: E.g. How did it feel? What went through your head? What happened to the whiteboard? How would you describe the process? Or other relevant topics for the workshop.
- Collect some comments from each group.
About the creator
He has two decades of experience in international humanitarian crisis management and is highly passionate about constantly exploring new perspectives and uncovering hidden assumptions that influence our decision-making. He is continuously advocating for finding new ways to learn and loves doing things differently.