The great thing about team building isn’t just how fun it is, but also how well its lessons apply back at the office. The other day we were doing an event with a group which involved completing an activity where the team has to touch a series of numbers scattered on the floor randomly in as fast a time as possible. The group got five goes at this activity, so a limited number of attempts.
What’s interesting is how differently groups approach this challenge. Some dive right in, trying one technique or strategy, then maybe scratching it and trying something else, and then maybe going with more alterations. Other teams seem to commit to one strategy and simply try to get better and better each go-around.
One approach to this game isn’t inherently better than another. Teams that use the same method and continue to hone it often see consistent, measurable improvements. Those other groups that are more experimental have more volatility in their results, but also happen upon some of the bigger breakthroughs when a particularly successful strategy is discovered.
The approach taken is often very reflective of how the group operates in the workplace. And this is where it is so valuable to be reflective and intentional. How are corporate challenges being approached currently, and is this right for the company? You might be in an organization that has been in startup-mode for a long time, pivoting and trying radical approaches that have eventually lead to big wins and strong revenue. But that approach might not be the best for stabilizing the business and building a foundation for future growth.
Conversely, you might be at a well-established company that has been growing incrementally, if slowly, for the better part of a decade. But you might be finding that you’re falling behind. Perhaps it’s time to take some of those more radical, risky moves because ultimately the biggest risk is to remain plateaued and lose ground to competitors.
Team building activities create an amazing opportunity to practice new behaviors in a safe environment. So if you’ve been that radical fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants company but are now finding success, you might experiment with a more staid and conservative approach while tackling a team building challenge. On the other hand, maybe it’s been a while since your team has taken any big risks. Your team’s challenge may then be to practice more risk-taking and unconventional approaches.
The team I mentioned at the beginning of this post took the incremental improvement approach. During the facilitator-led debrief of the program, their team leader expressed his concern that they play it safe too often, potentially sacrificing opportunities for bigger wins. It was a sentiment that resonated with his team.
This is why it is so important to have clarity on your goals and to be introspective during your team building event. You really do get out of it what you put into it, so be prepared to both have fun *and* learn something, too.
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