If you’ve ever participated in a teambuilding exercise, pull up those memories. Did it succeed in accomplishing its goals? Did it change your behavior at work? Better yet, did it change you as a person?
Most team building activities are pretty one-dimensional. They address behavior at one moment in time. Maybe the goal is to climb up a rope faster than Bill in Accounting. Or maybe the goal is to get Bill in Accounting up the rope. Imagine, instead, if such activities lived with people beyond a teambuilding event, and delivered results over a long period of time.
At my company, CBST Adventures, we facilitate a broad range of world-class teambuilding and leadership development activities, some “traditional” and others not so much. Always, our goal is to design an experience that is enduring – reusable and repurposeable for clients and their employees over an indefinite period of time.
For example, back in February, a long time client, Optiv, came to us and asked for our help in designing a 2 hour—but transformational—experience to complement their 3 day sales and training conference.
Here’s what we came up with. The last day of the conference, about 65 Optiv marketing professionals walked into a generic conference room at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Denver and saw piles of camping equipment.
The event was launched with an announcement that the mundane conference room was about to be transformed into Camp Conference Center. In a flurry of activity, each of the corporate campers was assigned randomly to teams. Each team was given the instruction that it would have 90 minutes to set up a usable campsite and perform various challenges. When time expired, a spokesperson from each of the groups would step forward and finish this sentence: ‘Camping is…’ When all that’s done, we’ve got a little surprise.”
As expected, there was a bit of confusion as each team sorted out roles and responsibilities. But soon, everyone settled into a groove. 90 minutes later, they reconvened as one group. A spokesperson from each team stepped forward. “Camping is…fun!” Camping is…challenging!” Camping is…hard!”
After each took their turn, the corporate campers were wondering what was next when the conference room doors banged open. Half dozen high school kids surged into the room. Each of them are active in CityWild, a Denver nonprofit organization that empowers inner city youth to experience the outdoors and develop leadership skills through adventure.
Over the next half hour, these youths guided the employees through a series of fun, somewhat-camp related activities like hockey slap shots into the open tent flaps and sleeping bag races.
To the delight of the campers, a proclamation was made that Optiv would be donating all the camping gear to CityWild and Big City Mountaineers. After this announcement, several of CityWild’s informal ambassadors starting sharing their stories. Daniel, a high school junior, related in a quiet voice to a now silent crowd how adventure had changed his life. . Rosa, a board member, told how she’d seen her children transform and now was watching the same thing happen with her grandchildren. You could see it in everyone’s faces. Everyone in the room couldn’t wait to get out on their next adventure.
After the event, I lingered in the hallway and chatted with some of Optiv’s employees. They shared with me how this simple 2-hour team-building event had changed them. “I love camping,” gushed one young woman. “I take it for granted that I can just go whenever I want. None of these kids take it for granted. And today we’ve done something that’s going to them keep doing what they love.”
CBST Adventures isn’t your typical ropes course or mystery box company. We want people to walk away from our events feeling transformed, enlightened, and awakened. It’s our goal that client experiences don’t just last for a day – they live with people for a lifetime.