Divide the Problem and Conquer
Case Study 1:
Apptio Corporation recently did a teambuilding scavenger hunt in Durham, NC. Their team had been working hard over the last few months and needed a break, big time. Their Dr. Clue hunt program allowed participants to blow off steam and also work on collaboration skills without actually knowing it. Said manager Seth Kahn, “this definitely was worth the investment on our end, and will set the bar for future team building events we run.” Kahn appreciated the personalization of the clues and the references to their company
–Seth Kahn, Apptio:
Case Study 2:
BioMarin Pharmaceuticals was looking for an event that would take them off site, away from their daily stress. Their Napa teambuilding scavenger hunt did the trick! By combining three groups (~20 people), they were able to collaborate with people they see at work but may not necessarily interact with, while at the same time strengthening existing relationships. The hunt allowed them to ‘let their hair down’, laugh and reenergize.
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Manager, Maintenance Business Office
BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.
Case Study 3:
Meet Stephanie. As a manager at a large credit union, she desperately wants her team to be all that it can be — harmonious, engaged and high performing. But as she gathers her department for their weekly Monday morning meeting, Stephanie observes that oh-so-familiar dynamic, the one that she’s come to dread: people grumbling, muttering under their breath, averting their gaze when she glances their way or asks them for an opinion. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be! This is not why she stepped up to a management in the first place, hoping to make a real difference in her organization.
This isn’t Stephanie’s first rodeo, however; she sees clearly what’s going on. It’s been an usually stressful year at her company, with numerous rounds of layoffs. Stephanie has been asking her team members to do more and more, with less and less time and less and less resources. Everyone’s email queue is up to their eyes, and they live in fear that Stephanie will ask them to do even more. If they say yes, they worry that they’ll be even more stressed out and over-worked, and if they say no, they’ll surely be perceived as poor team players. At the same time, everyone is deathly afraid of conflict. Their previous manager demanded lock-step agreement to his decisions, with significant consequences to those who stepped out of line.
What is Stephanie to do? If you were in her shoes, what would you do?
Enter Dr. Clue! As her teambuilding consultant, the first thing we did was sit down with Stephanie to explore her situation in depth. Who are the team mates and what are their strengths and personal motivators? What is the team’s level of trust? What is their level of empathy? How efficient are they? We then outlined a path toward greater team engagement, examining such topics as:
- Are people working on things bigger than themselves?
- Are they in community with others?
- Do they have well-defined roles in the organization?
- Are they making strong contributions?
- Are they actively connected to a larger team and organization?
- Are they continuously progressing?
- Are they designing and building things that are enjoyably used and widely adopted by the people for whom it was intended?
And that’s when we then did something unconventional: We suggested that Stephanie and her team step out of the stress of the workplace for an afternoon and come with one our trained facilitators on a half-day experiential teambuilding program, where people could play with some of the concepts above — building trust, relationships, empathy and efficiency in a safe, fun, friendly environment (that didn’t seem like work).
During their Dr. Clue teambuilding scavenger hunt, Stephanie’s team practiced problem solving and lateral thinking. They broke down problems and delegated according to peoples’ strengths. They voiced their opinions (without risk of recrimination) and got the job done, often creating partnerships with other teams (in the spirit of cross-team collaboration). Everyone had a defined role. Everyone felt connected to something bigger themselves. Everyone realized that by working together as a team, they could accomplish more than they could working alone, while have more fun doing it.
What changed for Stephanie and her team? Everything! People started speaking up in meetings. They started smiling again. They felt rejuvenated! Was their work any less stressful? Was their email queue any shorter? Alas, no. But people realized that Stephanie and their teammates had their back. They learned that their opinions would be listened to, and that their teammates saw their efforts as valuable. They learned that direct communication was not something to be feared — in fact, it is essential for teams to move head and be all that they can be. Most of all, participants felt a sense of pride — not only in their accomplishments during their scavenger hunt but in the larger organization, that cared enough to invest in their development.
Case Study 4:
For their 2nd company retreat, Pair of Thieves (an apparel company) planned on Ojai, CA and wanted something more than drinks at a bar, and traditional ice breakers. Their goal was to expose everyone to a situation where they would get to know one another better, learn how their teammates work, and have some light-hearted fun in the process. They appreciated the flow of their entire adventure, starting with a thoughtful icebreaker, splitting into teams, and then playing the actual hunt. Their favorite part was the end. After they had a few minutes of waving victories in each other’s faces, Dr. Clue brought them all back together again for one last team building exercise. This was the perfect way to end their excursion; a reminder that they all have the same goal and that they make beautiful, exciting, fun, and successful progress when they work together as ONE team. They were able to bond while having a blast. More importantly, they learned about how each of their personalities and methods contribute to their bigger picture.
“We arrived in Ojai as individuals, and left as one. Thank you Doctor C!”
Cassi Nolan, Pair of Thieves
Case Study 5:
Fiserv’s sales team was looking for a fun and adventurous Team Building effort and Dr. Clue hit the bullseye. Not only was it fun and challenging but they got to see team members perform some very fun and entertaining tasks that got people out of their shell. Dr. Clue helped everyone through the introduction and setup and helped make sure everyone had a great time. With the scoring system, this become highly fun and competitive.
“Our team highly recommends this Scavenger Hunt program.”
Mike Travis Fiserv
Case Study 6:
(Wentworth Consulting Group does executive development through consulting, coaching, facilitation and training.)
Dr. Clue gave this group the opportunity to get to know how the team thinks and acts when solving a problem under pressure together. This offered a challenge that was both intellectually stimulating and inter-personally challenging, plus the physical aspect of getting up and running around.
After the hunt, there was lots of laughter from the group and they seemed much more relaxed with each other. It allowed some individual problem solving to shine forth from the quiet people, from the introverts. Because they applied a divide and conquer strategy, they were able to able to tap into the quiet, smart people who may not have been heard more readily had we done a more verbal and facilitated type of activity.
“Perhaps my biggest aha moment was the fact that you can design a relevant event in new locations that are fun, and clever. Your ability to create a really great learning activity in a completely non-urban, isolated resort setting…you’re so darn clever that way.”
Bonnie Wentworth, Wentworth Consulting
Case Study 7:
This NDI group needed a break from the usual accounting work they do, the paper pushing. The part at the end about working together across teams hit home with a lot of people. Within their group, they had five different teams. They work within sub-teams but it was important for teams to cross those lines and work with the other people in the other groups to get things done the right way.”
“Our CFO was very excited about it and thought it went very well. People did something different than they normally do here at our work…everyone enjoyed that. The camaraderie.”
National Democratic Institute
Manager, Budget and Special Projects
**All our corporate team-building events include a Post-Hunt Debrief.*
The post-hunt “debrief” is where the rubber really meets the road. Each team is asked to evaluate its successes and failures, and then make a presentation before the entire assembly. Participants are encouraged to draw parallels between the dynamics in a treasure hunt and the dynamics in a team-based work environment.
Sample discussion questions might include:
- What happened during the activity?
- What team dynamics emerged? What were obstacles to your team’s success?
- Who were the leaders? Did the roles change?
- In thinking about your workplace, what was familiar about what you experienced during the hunt?
- What innovation might have put you over the top?
- How might you have collaborated across teams?
- How might you use what you learned today?