Virtual Teams

Team building or community?

If you’ve been watching our social spaces, Twitter and Facebook, this week, you may have seen a couple of enigmatic tweets with pictures of tools, numbered – clues to something. As promised, today all becomes clear….

Those who follow this blog regularly will know that our CEO, Kevan Hall, often talks about both ‘dogfooding’ (doing the things we talk about with others – we are a virtual team ourselves), and about the costs of bringing even a small international team together.

We (and our customers) really need to make the most of scarce face to face time, be clear about our objectives and design our events to meet them. So when Global Integration’s Global team meets (twice a year) its important that we make the best of the time.

Our meetings always have certain key elements, updates, looking at the business, celebrating and challenging our own practises – and we always include some community building. There are, of course, lots of ‘solitary’ (done alone) activities that we could do, that would be great fun, but are anything but team-building (such as driving). Of course, some community building will happen around those kinds of events or in the evening, but the community building is a by-product, not part of the activity. 

Things that have worked well for us in the past include white water rafting, circus school , stunt school, and horse whispering.This activity is always:

  • Something we can do in small groups (4-6 people) that change, encouraging interaction and conversations;
  • Something structured,but which allows us time to laugh together and catch up with each other;
  • Not something we do on a regular basis: we are building a shared set of experiences, and get to see our colleagues in different contexts (and people’s personalities all come to the fore!)

At our last meeting, in August, our community activity was a forensic exercise, where, in two teams, we were given sets of clues, learned how to take fingerprints, test for blood and examine blood spatter patterns.  Set up and run by forensic experts, we had to work out from the crime scene that they created who was the criminal. (It was, incidentally, our CEO Kevan Hall’s character who was guilty, but I resisted the temptation to write a blog post titled ‘Kevan Hall was the murderer’.)

We’ve put the photos online for you to enjoy –  it’s rare you’ll see our senior people looking so perplexed: crime scene activity images.

This particular activity was not only fun, but worked well at getting us working together, thinking hard, learning something new and listening to instructions.  (The way it was delivered came under scrutiny as well – there can be little more daunting than presenting to a room full of people that spend their lives presenting, but even this served to reinforce some existing learning.)

If you have a team meeting or event that you would like to make effective, it costs little to call us to see what we can do for you at your next event or meeting. And if you need more information on virtual teams and how to make them more effective, there’s always plenty on our ‘Life in  a Matrix’ blog.

What’s been your most successful community building exercise?  We’d love to hear.

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