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First Contact

Remote working is hard for a Scrum Master. One of twelve agile principles is face to face conversation. Whenever it is possible I like to use this form of communication as it is most efficient and effective. Nowadays engaging teamsters is challenging. When the newcomer arrives to the team on-boarding is tough job. One activity which can be fun and which can build team spirit while introducing newcomer to the business is to do alien first contact game. It will last 15-20 minutes.

I will give you exact script which you can play by, and tune as you wish. I did not invented this activity, just adapt it.


2 min storytelling


Assemble the team in online video call. Explain that you will facilitate one 15-20 min activity because we have new team member. Start with:

Alien ship is detected in the Low Earth Orbit. They are communicating with us, but our best linguists have trouble to decipher their language. Show graphic of a ship in LEO, as one picture is worth a thousand words.

After a lot of effort they came only with understanding this message:


They are saying: Show us what you do?

Linguist advised to select 5 pictures and communicate to aliens in hope that they will understand what the team is working on, and hopefully connect with aliens.


1 min instructions


Instruct the team to select 5 pictures which will best represent what they do. They can use google pics, download them, it is up to them. They will have 5-7 minutes for that activity. During it, the team needs to delegate one person which will present pictures.


5-7 min activity


If there are more than 5 team members you can split them in two groups to engage all members better, but competition is not in the first plan. If you have 2 groups use split rooms in zoom or similar video conf tool. Announce the time when you will summon them in the main room again (larger the group more time), and enter text reminder in every group about expected outcome.


2-4 min presentation


When are all back in the main room, let presenter(s) in around 100 sec show all 5 pictures.

Small comments from presenter(s) are acceptable, but not necessary. Insist on slow pace, as presenter will probably fly through those pictures they are shuffling. Let all team members, especially newcomers have time to soak to the pics and transfer to that world shown on screen. Repeat the process for a second group if two groups.



5 min reflection


Now it is time for discussion. Take the coaching stance, and do not give your comments about any pic. Just ask questions. Some which can help are:

  1. What is a difference between team 1 and team 2 main pic motives?

  2. What are same motives?

  3. What is the main motive?

  4. What is your overall sentiment of pictures shown?

  5. What would you say if you are the alien and seeing those pictures?

  6. How fun would be for them to work here?

  7. How would alien react to you working in such environment?

  8. What you wish you included now in this slideshow?

  9. What would you exclude?

  10. Questions to newcomer: If you were the alien, how would you react to this communication?

2 min closing


Take care about whether the team(s) concentrated and shown pics that can be put in 3 categories:

- processes - their business as usual and surroundings, coding tools, computers;

- people - team work, empowerment, enjoyment in work, self organization;

- purpose - they shown end users using product of their work happy, benefit of their

work to community, underlying concepts, ideas of human perceptions about the world,

basic terms and axioms.

Reflect to the team what you have seen and congratulate all the participants on good work.

Make a joke and randomly choose one of the two pics for THE END:




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