When new teams or divisions are formed, getting people to work together effectively is no small task. This was the challenge in front of the newly formed healthcare business unit for a global Fortune 20 corporation. Twenty-one company executives and the CEO of that division came to Colorado with the goal of building teamwork, trust, and communication among the team faster and more effectively than they could have on their own.
On paper, it might appear this new business unit would just naturally come together seamlessly– the team was full of incredibly talented individuals all working part of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Yet, even the best and biggest companies can’t always avoid the challenges surrounding culture, teamwork, and communications. In fact, those areas might be the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of such large organizations. This particular company wasn’t lacking culture; in fact, they had a fairly established culture rooted in military teachings and processes, as some employees were ex-military or ex-special forces. What our CBST Adventures team soon learned is that not everyone fully bought into the military culture – some simply didn’t have a military background or just didn’t understand the military approach. This resulted in a somewhat of a schism among the group. It was at this point we knew what the group needed.
We took the group to Buena Vista to go rafting the next day and to help promote team connection and bonding. We encouraged the group the ‘bunk up’ in somewhat close quarters, with 3-4 people to a room. This required some individuals to sleep on pullout mattresses versus actual beds. Interestingly enough, this turned about to be one of the more memorable parts of the trip. Sharing a room with 2 or 3 other people forced the executives to really get to know one another better as they learned about each other’s careers, families, hobbies, and personal lives. Some amazing personal bonds and connections were formed and the military-based culture factions began to dissipate. Come to find out, this social and cozy time together was so powerful for the group that the executives didn’t even mind the small rooms and low-frills accommodations.
The next day was full of adventure from rafting Class III and Class IV rapids, to hiking in the surrounding mountains, to playing one of our popular team building games, ‘GPS Lifeline.’ GPS Lifeline is an amazingly fun team build activity where the group breaks into teams and seek out targets over a large outdoor area with a GPS unit. Think of it as a large scale, high tech version of ‘Capture the Flag.’ Make no mistake, this is no backyard kids game. Teams are tested and challenged as the game requires participants to manage their teams in terms of strategy, goals, stamina and problem solving to ensure the team captures the targets back in time to complete their ‘mission.’ It’s a fantastic experience that truly promotes real-life team building, trust, and communication.
While the ‘GPS Lifeline’ was a great activity for the team, a truly transformation moment happened during the rafting. One of the individuals in the group was somewhat intimidated and fearful of the rapids for most of the rafting trip. Our guide team approached a rapid called ‘Swimmers’ Rapid’ where the rapids are safe enough to swim in. We encouraged the group to swim if they felt comfortable and were able. This particular individual felt compelled by the moment to face her fear of the rapids and told everyone she was getting in. With the help of one of our guides, she jumped into the rapids, wide-eyed and all and swam through them for a short while. She then safely climbed back into the raft and our guides and her team immediately noticed a shift in her demeanor – she had this look on her face as if she had just conquered something big – a fear inside her. It was a wonderful moment both for her and her team, as everyone congratulated her on overcoming her fear. To end this post, we thought we’d share an email we received from her a few weeks after her exciting swim in the rapids.
‘Hi, I think of Colorado often. Wondering why I actually jumped in the water. As I said I am a strong swimmer, but had never put myself in a situation like that before. Not sure if it was all the excitement or I wanted to test myself. Needless to say, I have a shared memory with many and will always remember the adventure.’
It’s such life-changing experiences that we love to create…