One of my favorite communication team building exercises was something that I just happened to come up with off the top of my head. I focused my exercise on communications with “old” school favor – up till today’s technology. The group was a complete staff that had been working together for about a year. They happened to be responsible for a lot of the personal productivity and collaboration tools. The group was 12 total folks that were broken down to 3 teams. Team one was the “old” paper and pencil team and with paper and pencil as their only communication tool. Team two had a step up – email as their communications tool. Team three had the instant messaging as their communications method only.
Before you read on – which order do you think the teams finished?
Each team was given the simple instructions that they could only communicate with the person in front of them (they were seated in a row). The email and IM folks could not set up one distribution or chat session – we want to demonstrate the dispersed locations of a team. Next, they had everything they needed to figure out in front of them (I basically, put a slip of paper on each chair – that if you put them together the leader (seated in the back) has the instructions under their chair. Then each team had to completed a team building exercise – each was different. Each one of those exercises would take their teams about 15 minutes to complete (team one had 10 riddles to decipher; team two had 10 scrambled US cities; team three had to sketch a charade phrase given to them) – once they found their instructions. Watching them pass notes and type was a nice thing to see. Busy beavers working away – some visually frustrated, some wondering what was going on and others too busy to look up.
The team learned that just trying to get everyone together was a struggle to get to an end result (they would have loved to just call a meeting and get to it). Most of our teams were spread across the globe – making effective communications very difficult. Not everyone works in one timezone only… So, we talked about ways to improve that. We also focused on those poor folks out on the islands – last person in the row.. How they felt when a small few in the team communicated differently. Look at when in some teams have a good portion of the team in one location – they can get together in the hallway, by the “water cooler” and so on – to talk, brainstorm, make decisions and then the rest have to live with the outcome. There were other things that came out, but for story telling – we just put some action plans together and will come back to see if we have improved.
I want to hear what people think was the outcome and why… And for those that participated in the team activity – or heard me discuss this – please do not share at this time. Tomorrow – I will share part 2 the outcome..
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