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Chris Burns

Chris Burns CIO

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Our Team Building "Challenge" Offers Lessons For Any Business!

With this blog post I will share with you some of the truly useful lessons in leadership and teamwork that we learned during our weekly team building meeting yesterday. These lessons can be applied to any team, any leadership, under any circumstances.

So just a bit of background, our operation staff has a weekly team building meeting where typically we cover a topic such as integrity or how to keep your love for the job like you were just hired, etc. Typically we meet, discuss, provide our various insights and then compile our notes into a useful blog post that we then publish on our website. 

This week we wanted to do something different. We setup a challenge. Here were the rules:

  • Three team captains volunteered.
  • The three captains played rock, paper, and scissors to determine the order of team selection.
  • The captains assembled their team in the order set by the previous rock, paper, and scissors game. 
  • One team member had to be blind folded and guided by the rest of the team through an obstacle course that was setup in our office. No touching was allowed between talking team members and the blindfolded member, only words could be used. 
  • This was a timed challenge. If the blindfolded member touched any of the obstacles on the course a 10 second penalty was applied to their overall time for each infraction.

The great part for you is that we recorded all three team runs through our obstacle course and I’m going to provide that video for your enjoyment below! After watching the video please continue to read on. After the challenge we met to discuss as a group why the winning team won and the others didn't. I think you will find our finding relevant to your own teams and the challenges they face each day!

O.K, you can see that we had a bit of fun there, which is just part of our company culture :). Now after the three teams ran through we had a sit down discussion and we came up with some practical things that led to either victory or defeat, and I want to share them with you now as I feel they may relate to your own company challenges.

Things That Led to a Team Victory

1. The team captain selected her team based on the challenge she knew they were going to be presented with.

team buildingThis is an important role of any leadership position isn't it? When you are given the choice to assemble your team, no matter how big or small the project is you should make sure that you are selecting the best people for the job. You want to allow people that have natural gifts to be able to put those gifts to their best use for the benefit of the rest of your team and the goal at hand. 

If you have enough people on your team that have a strong point, it might make sense to add someone that is weaker in that particular area as they will benefit from the experience of the other team members and create an even stronger team for future projects. If however you have a small team and ever man counts, you may need to make sure that all of your teams are Aces in every area required for the project. 

In the end the failure or success of a project ultimately falls back on the leadership. It starts with picking the right players for your team. A strong leader picks the best team for the goal at hand and when they win they stay humble and give the team the credit (even though they may want everyone to admit it's their awesome Avengers Assembling skills that won the day!). 

2. The team decided on ONE person to give direction to the blindfolded team member. With less chatter the blindfolded player was able to focus on a single voice and help them visual what they needed in order to win!

Most of us have had the unfortunate luck to be in a situation where you answer to many bosses. Too many chefs in the kitchen can lead to disaster! Our little experiment proved that the only team to have one voice was the victorious team.

By having only one leader walking the blindfolded person through the course, the blind-folded player could focus in and listen to exactly what the instruction giver was saying. With clear concise instruction, the blind-folded player was able to move much more swiftly as he had more confidence in what he was doing.

This point proves that it’s best to have very tightly structured leadership within your organization. Team members gain confidence and more buy-in when they are led by one person rather than several. The leader must be confident in his ability and also clear in his communication with his team if he/she wants to give them the best chance for success.

This is an invaluable lesson and it really solidifies the way we have built our business. Each product group has a single director. As the team grows, the manager report to the director and are responsible for their own team. With a structure such as this you can scale your business and maintain this philosophy of a single voice and a strong team!

3. The winning team had a member that was willing to do what it takes to win.

Even with the best leadership in place and strong corporate structure, it takes a dedicated team player that is willing to do what it takes to achieve success. While leadership would love to take the credit for big wins, it really does come down to team members willing to go the extra mile in order to achieve success. In our case the team member had to do several things well in order to win:

  • Take direction well
  • Move quickly, much quicker than he was possibly comfortable moving under the circumstances.
  • Communicate quickly any challenges they were facing with the rest of the team.
  • Not get hung up on small failures, always keeping the big picture goal top of mind throughout the challenge.

We hope that you all have as much fun watching as we had undertaking this little challenge experience! I hope this encourages anyone that is in a leadership position to really find creative ways to engage your team and use the experience as a learning lesson for everyone involved (INCLUDING YOURSELF!).

I would love to hear about any creative ways you migh17a8869f0565c499f0da076f03b58a9e.jpg?t=1​t have come up with to do something similar. We are always on the lookout for new ways to increase team awareness, bring our team closer, and most importantly have some fun!

Robert Karbaum
This is really great. Also, a fantastic excuse to ask for a GoPro for the office!
Chris Burns
Hahaha. Exactly. I also recorded some videos on my Google Glass as well :).

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