Nothing to do with us - Team Building
So- it was that a customer came to me after we’d dropped off an ice sculpture in London for their Christmas party some 15 years ago and asked if we did team building.
It crossed my mind in an instant that actually we’d never done any team building involving ice what so ever but for some reason I found myself saying ‘YES! … of course’.
I had absolutely no idea how to orchestrate a team build activity let alone what I’d hope to achieve with a group of novices but the excitement of trying something new involving ice was just too much of a draw.
The focus was on leaving the venue (the offices of the client) with firstly all of the participants counting the same number of fingers on the way out as they’d arrived with so power tools were out. Normally we’d use a chainsaw but the idea that our insurance company would let that happen wasn’t even worth a phone call. So – chisels it was.
Secondly and almost equally important the team build activity had to be fun- it had to achieve it’s goal by giving the client exactly what the wanted. What that was was frankly beyond me at the time- but read on- it will become clear.
On first appearances a team build activity is a group of teams doing anything out of the office, except work, that a bunch of school children would regard as having a great time.
When team builds first came into view and were used by corporate clients the general view of those not taking part was that it was a big waste of money and time.
Great fun though.
Could this be true? Could it be that a major brand would actually waste it’s money on what appeared to be a playschool activity?
So the team build went ahead – blocks of ice were in place, chisels placed along with trays, a floor lining to protect the carpets, disposable aprons which were a challenge to get into themselves, gloves and even shoe protectors were available. The client had laid on a caterer to serve canapes as well as drinks – to us it added to our bemusement.
As far as we were concerned we were there simply to let a group of people normally used to working in an office have an insight into our world by carving an ice sculpture of their choice.
OHHH how wrong could we be?
But it wasn’t about us, what we did or how we did it. This team build like any other had nothing to do with the people running the show, namely us.
A week after the ice team build I got a call from the lady that had booked us – the very lady that had booked in the ice sculpture for the Christmas party. Her company was having a problem with an influential industry magazine and their respective staff just didn’t talk to each other, so they’d booked us to get them talking. And it worked- the guys in the teams from both companies had since been ringing each other all week. Mixing up the group members and getting them out of their comfort zones had allowed them all a common experience.
At that moment during the week later phone call it all became clear exactly why a team build worked- it had nothing to do with carving ice but it had everything to do with breaking the ice!