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Something new something old

May 25, 2009

Did I miss something? Are management and teambuilding games seriously out of favour? Was there a whole debate that happened around this that somehow I missed? Last week I was asked by a group to run a teambuilding game for them, and I then realized that I hadn’t run a game for about two years.The group that approached me had recently had a change in leadership, precipitated by the retirement of a long-standing leader. Their physical space was divided into a number of rooms/areas scattered around a beautiful heritage building. Charming but problematic. Their aim for the day were to do some planning for the future and to reconnect with each other.

In the morning, to meet their planning objective, we ran the Future Backwards. It was a great tool for reviewing the past and thinking about the future, good and bad, that they were in the process of creating. The big ‘ah ha’ moment was when they realized just how much of the future was within their sphere of control or influence. Until then, they believed that what they needed was money or more resources to solve their problems. However, they quickly saw that many of the elements of their personal utopia were non-montary issues that they could work on now .

The afternoon was given over to the team game. It required them to work in small teams to find envelopes containing playing cards, and to put the cards together to form a winning poker hand. The envelopes were hidden over a beautiful Australian bush site. Clues to find the envelopes were obtained by completing certain activities, such as writing a limerick, choreographing a dance to the tune of ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ or matching flags to countries. The weather was perfect and teams had a good mix of inside creative or intellectual tasks counterbalanced with walking in the beautiful bush to collect envelopes.

The two exercises worked effectively together. FB allowed them to see how much of the future was under their control. The team game allowed them to find and appreciate each other's strengths, rebuild relationships and to reconnect with the pleasure of working together toward a common goal.

I regard FB as cutting edge, based on our best current understanding of how humans tick. The team game is very much old technology, and I think, such instruments may have fallen out of favour. In embracing the new, I hope we don't needlessly dispense with the old. As I found out, these two very different approaches blended well for this particular group, with a synergy in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

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