Custom Team Building II

So you want to build your team, but none of the "canned" activities out there really fit your needs. But the big companies that offer fully customized solutions are out of your budget. What do you do?

You find someone (ahem) who will customize their economical offerings to meet your needs, that's what.

Customization can take any number of forms. Popular ones we've encountered are:

- Infusing the content of the activity with your company's or group's message - be it your mission statement, training themes, key elements of a new marketing campaign or product release, or your company's core values. For instance, if your current theme is "Safety," your scavenger hunt could include the search for safety items - or identifying unsafe situations.

- Adding activities that reinforce that message. For example, if your company fosters competitiveness, you might add activities in which groups compete at a higher level with one another. If your company fosters cooperation and open communication, you would look for activities in which working together and sharing information are key.

- Branding. This works well if a new product, brand, or marketing message is the theme. One fun activity we've included is having the group form a "human brand" - a larger-than-life image of the brand symbol, using themselves (yes, human bodies) as the "art medium."

- Quizzes. Again, this fits well in a team scavenger hunt: Ask team members to recall (or research) specifics about the message, themes, etc.

The possibilities are endless. The budget is not. Make sure your provider isn't breaking your bank by making the activity meet your needs. After all, it's your event, not theirs.


Team Identity Building

Does your team building event include activities promoting "Team Identity?"

We think it's a pretty important aspect of a team bonding outing. Team Identity gives participants a strong sense of "Being in This Thing Together," strengthens the sense of the common mission, of the need to share, communicate, and back each other up. A heightened sense of mutual concern, support, and cheerleading.

It's the "hook" into team bonding - a great first step, reinforced by all of the other activities you'll follow up with in the outing.

Without it, what do you have? A bunch of people going out to dinner, doing a ropes course, playing a game, attending a concert. In short, you have an activity that a bunch of people happen to be doing together.

Team Identity activities don't need to be complex or difficult - in fact, they should be simple and easy. Be it coming up with a team name, a team cheer, wearing the same color, or sharing the same funny walk, it ought to be one of the first things you do at the event.

So, when you talk to team building event providers, ask them about Team Identity.


Team building for social groups

Usually team building brings to mind large corporate organizations, spread over a large campus or building (or nationally) with multiple divisions that don't often see each other or interact in person. But team building can work for small, even social groups, too.

Social groups, like private companies, often find a need to improve communications, build familiarity and trust, and just get to know each other in a fun, relaxing, non-threatening way - just like companies.

For social groups, though, team building takes on a different imperative. Instead of ensuring a profitable bottom line, team building goals in social groups revolves around building the interpersonal relationships for their own sake. They just want to have positive, shared experiences. Create memories. Laugh. Enjoy each other. And, down the road, have more positive interpersonal interactions.

That's why we keep our games flexible and fun. We don't try to pin a group down into a given process - blue and red dots on affinity diagrams after long boring lectures... even we fall asleep during those.

Recently we've even created "family and social group" variations of our games to emphasize the just-pure-fun aspect of things. Yes, we still challenge your left and right brains. But we also give the old heart muscle a tug or two... in a colloquial way.

Curious? Call or email. We'll do some 'splainin'.



Groupon CEO resignation letter shows true teamwork

Last week, online discount reseller Groupon, Inc. fired their founder and CEO of four years, Andrew Mason.

Some founders don't take kindly to such treatment. Who would?

Mr. Mason, however, showed amazing teamwork (and humor) in his departure letter to Groupon's remaining employees.

Here's an excerpt:

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention.

Mr. Mason goes on to praise his former employees for their great work and to take full blame for the company's recent troubles.

We consider this an exemplary form of teamwork. Mr. Mason took full accountability for his performance, communicated fully and openly, stood up for his team and made them look good. He even went on to praise the board that fired him, saying they were aligned with a new strategy that he believed would make the company healthy again.

He also made Groupon sound like a really fun place to work.

Nice teamwork, Andrew Mason. We applaud you.

PS:  You might want to read more of his letter. It's amazing.


Sequestration: How not to act like a team

Congress and the President are poised to allow "sequestration" to occur at midnight tonight. "Sequestration" in this context means dramatic across-the-board spending cuts in all areas of the federal government, regardless of the value or success of the program being cut.

This is happening, we believe, for a fairly simple reason:  lack of teamwork.

To wit:

  • lack of communication
  • lack of trust
  • unwillingness to work together to solve problems
  • blaming
  • unwillingness to compromise- refusal to accept partial or interim successes when available to build trust, communication and cooperation
  • And most of all: they aren't having one tiny, teeny bit of fun.

It's not like this is entirely unexpected. After all, our Founding Fathers set up our federal system of checks and balances under the assumption that "factions" would ultimately behave exactly as our two political parties are now.

We see a silver lining, though.

Our federal politicians are setting an excellent negative example of how NOT to act when trying to build a team.

Lesson learned.

'Round here, we'd much rather build teams and have a little fun doing it... without creating a fiscal crisis.



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