Thursday, January 15, 2009

teambuilding: just add water

A couple days ago I attended a 3-hour workshop on teambuilding activities. Usually I run screaming in the other direction if I happen upon a workshop where clever, cutsey mixers are the MO. On this day, I was learning how to inflict the pain, and so it was not as bad. I will propose that there is a difference between clever, cutsey mixers (we did a few of these) and just plain fun games (we did a few of these too).

When we walked in they had ginormous cloth inflated “balls” – ours was a sphere and the other was a cube – that we essentially got to bat around for a bit with the object being to keep them off the floor. One woman in our group seemed particularly averse to joining the big ball fun – perhaps because she was actually small enough that there was an outside chance of the ball landing on her and completely engulfing her.

We then moved on to “icebreakers”. We did one activity which involved learning different handshakes. The yoga handshake about did me in. Think “fake-high-five-oops-we-missed-stand-on-one-leg-and-grab-the-other-person’s-leg. If that made no sense, just imagine two people standing next to one another on one foot trying to balance while leaning face-forward into the other person’s backside to grab their extended leg. I attempted to do it and have to say that there’s a reason I played volleyball (no one-foot-balance required and plenty of room to flail and fall).

The noodle cube exercise taught us that no planning is sometimes the best strategy (I’m not sure that was the message they were trying to get across).

Then we did a picture game which involved lining up a sequence of pictures in order – except we couldn’t see the pictures and had to rely on each person describing his/her picture accurately. Hypothetically, a good exercise. It started with everyone yelling about at the same time: "I've got a beach", "I've got a plane", "I've got a rooster ("It's Superman!") Unfortunately, it basically ended with me (and some others) yelling violently at several deliberating persons“Just put it down! PUT IT DOWN!! We'll deal with the consequences later!” Patience is a virtue I don’t got. Essentially, we went from a picture of the earth in outer space to a rooster. And the lesson I got from it was, put a timer on the decision-making process and people think faster…no time, deliberations can go forever (again, not the message they were aiming for).

We finished with little balls. Tossing them back and forth in a pattern while standing in a circle. The facilitator did make a point to suggest we toss them underhand. How thoughtful. It seems it would get more people going to just start chucking them. Maybe not. I was low on energy at this point so my perspective is probably a bit skewed, but it had potential.

If only teambuilding were so easy.

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