Thursday, 27 March 2014

Jenga for Teams!

Are you really after a team building event?

I recently facilitated a team development event and found myself encouraging the teams manager not to use the word 'team building' to describe it.
For me the idea of 'team building' events don't really address the challenges in most teams, and in this instance the 'building' idea wasn't really stretching enough for them as they were already built! I suddenly found myself having to explain, whereas before I'd just avoided the term. Thinking on my feet, here's how I made distinction between team building and bonding - and what I envisioned for them:

Team building I described this as a bit like Jenga: All the pieces are the same which allows them to fit neatly. The pieces themselves are useful but people rarely use them for anything other than their exact purpose... It's built up for sure but then every time a piece is pulled there's the risk, and expectation, it'll all fall down. The aim becomes coping with the holes and not wanting to be the one to bring it down! Sure, it can be fun - but is this what we really want from/for our teams?

Team bonding... Is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. It can be a struggle to complete when you don't have the box telling you what the picture is to start with. Also it's great when you have all the pieces and they fit together but, remove a bit and the picture annoyingly just isn't complete. And like Jenga, having to fit pieces in doesn't really leave much room for creativity. Sure it can all be glued down, but then you're finished!

Team bridging: For me truly functional, ever developing teams are more like a series of independent Islands connected by a series of bridges: it's more about allowing each thing to stand alone (so that strengths and talents are recognised as unique) but that these - individuals - are connected. Bridges are usually built to be sound structures so that whatever flows beneath them, be it rough or still, things remain strong. 

So that's what we did on the day. We bridged, and it seemed to be one if the lessons that resonated the most. What are your thoughts on Build, Bond and Bridge?