Friday, July 24, 2009 by Dave Blum

Team building or recreation?
Team building or recreation?

I’ve been thinking, of late, that “team-building” is an awfully fuzzy term.  First off, it’s unclear to me how to even write it.  I mean is it:

1) teambuilding?
2) team building?  or
3) team-building?

Then there’s the question of what it is.   For example, is a night of shooting pool team building?  A lot of people think so!

In my opinion, there are three VERY DIFFERENT activities that might fall under this umbrella, as follows:

1) Team Recreation: an activity or experience that is “just for the fun of it”.  No business objectives or outcomes are expected — you just get people together, let the event run its own course, and hope that people bond in the process

2) Team Development: an ongoing process of analysis, training and goal setting by which a team, over time, increases its productivity, efficiency and success

3) Team Building
: a discreet, experiential event that serves a key function in an ongoing team development process.  During the “team building”, the group experiences (often viscerally) their current default patterns of individual and team behavior, experiments with some new tools and skills sets, and leaves with some guidelines and direction for further team development.

Of the three activities above, #1 is generally not facilitated.  Numbers 2 and 3 are most-certainly facilitated.   Number 1 works fine for building a bit of comraderie and affinity.  Numbers 2 and 3 also do that, but more as a side outcome, rather than a focus.

Just about every team I’ve encountered over the years could use a facilitated, ongoing team development process.  But that process cannot be a series of dry, passive Powerpoint lectures.  It needs to be a combination of discussion, analysis, goal setting AND experiential team building events — balancing out the lecture and bringing the learning alive.