Getting ahead - team building which does just that'.
For 30+ years we have had many memorable moments whilst developing teams
Recently - whilst dealing with a team who insisted on calling themselves the 'heads of' team as if this were their brand, I was reminded of a throw away line from one of our clients that led us to create one of the funniest and most memorable team building activities we have ever delivered.
The line was simply - "we want you to create a team building activity around the concept of 'getting a head'.
We started by thinking about success, legacy, succession and this in turn led to discussion around what would the management team of tomorrow look like..... and then ..... the light bulb went on!
It sparked a creative and slightly left-field idea that we should get this management team to actually recreate their own heads - have fun whilst doing it, be creative and explore the lighter side of what they wanted and needed as a team.
So the first thing we did was team up with local scultpor. Armed with sculpting equipment, plaster of Paris bandages, fake hair, paints and a lot of creative license - we set them the task of making their replacements.
We positioned it as 'building the management team of tomorrow' ... we were quite pleased with that!.
As is often the case - what we got was far more than we expected .
The first part in the process of making a head is to make a mask and in making the 'masks' there's a huge amount of trust required - the relevance of which was not lost on anyone. If you're going to allow a colleague to effectively plaster your face you need to trust them!.
Also - the process of mask making required a relaxation of our standard personal space boundaries more akin to what you would get whilst having your hair cut. The conversations thus were more personal, less corporate and interspersed with comments like "can you still breathe?" and "does it make my nose look big?" and a fair bit of dark but appropriate humour given the circumstances. It also created a unique experience that bonded the participants.
Once the mask making process was done the teams then had to build out the rest of the their heads using wire mesh and papier-mache. This required teamwork.
Then came the the hairstyling out of rope and twine and horse hair and finally the face painting.
Throughout the process one thing was clear - everyone has to listen to and learn from the sculptor the comparisons to real life leadership lessons once again being evident without being forced.
Finally, once all the Head' were ready we set up the Boardroom with the new 'Heads of Department' ready for their team photo.
All in all it allowed us not only to have some fun but also to gently facilitate some 'soft' discussions around the team, its direction and the wants and needs of the team to achieve future success.
For us it was a great example of how doing something memorable, personal, creative and fun whilst taking the rationale for doing it seriously but not taking ourselves too seriously - yielded fantastic results.