My pedometer and me

May 22, 2009

If you are interested in the interplay between virtual communities and action in the real world have a look at Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) at

I am participating in the GCC which started on 21 May and runs for 125 days. It is a networked activity, with a health-improvement focus, in which teams of 7 people aim to take at least 10,000 steps each day. In our virtual world, each team starts off on day 1 at the Taj Mahal in India. We log in the number of steps we have taken each day, and this score determines how quickly we proceed in a journey (or race if you are the competitive type) around the world. At certain points we catch virtual planes to take us to new countries.

When we enroll in the GCC, we pay for a pedometer to measure our daily steps, a backpack, cap and water bottle. The organizers are expert motivators, and keep up a steady flow of breezy and encouraging emails. We develop an identity by giving our team a name, developing a team motto, publishing a photograph of our team on the website, which naturally we can browse to check out our fellow travelers all over the globe. Much humour is evident and a great sense of fun has developed already.

The teamwork aspect has been well thought through. Many organizations, like mine, encourage multiple teams. So, we feel part of a world-wide team of our fellow GCC travelers; we relate to other teams in our organization (with the usual healthy competition) and we feel a strong commitment to our own team of seven. Our small team needs to work together and encourage each other to keep those 10,000 steps per day happening!

The health outcomes are impressive. Based on previous challenges, women lose on average 5 kg and men 2 kg during the challenge. There is also a 41% reduction in sick leave for participating workers. From a personal perspective I am enjoying the team play and benefitting from getting more fit; from a professional perspective I am learning a lot about how to tie the virtual and real domains together on a truly global scale.

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