A story recently circulated around the office here at Adventure Associates about the completion of the NASA backed Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS). Basically, a team of six aspiring space voyagers spent eight months together in a 1000 square foot geodesic dome to simulate living in a habitat on Mars — the third group to do so in this series of experiments meant to prepare us for our eventual journey to the red planet.
Having a team of three women and three men spend that length of time in such close proximity to each other presented some interesting recruiting challenges despite the 700 plus applicants. In selecting participants, the simulation managers needed to find people who not only possessed great technical skills, but also who had a positive attitude, weren’t quick to anger, and that were able to solve conflicts peacefully. All essential traits when living within the confines of such a small habitat, and when considering that the journey to Mars on it’s own would likely take two years. Obviously there’s no room for Survivor-esque drama.
In reading the story, it’s easy to draw correlations to teams within businesses—especially those that need to work together in the same space for long periods of time. A focus on team building in these scenarios is essential. Through strategically designed events, a team can learn to communicate better, improve upon individual emotional intelligence, and become better at successful conflict resolution.
If you think about it, a startup team closely parallels a team on a mission to Mars. You have a lofty goal and a journey chock full of difficult challenges. The hours are long and the proximity to your teammates is close. Investing in the cohesion of this team unit is an essential part of successfully completing your goal — getting your company off the ground. NASA’s understanding of the importance of these group dynamics is the reason it’s investing in these experimental simulations. By doing the same in your business, you’ll have that much greater a chance of completing your own company’s mission.
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