Foster teamwork, Teambuilding, Problem-solving, Communication
Whether the focus of the day is developing community, confidence, and/or leadership, our team building activities challenge all participants, and enable them to reflect and learn. The activities encourage participants to work together to achieve a common goal and to use new, unfamiliar, and effective modes of behavior and communication in order to succeed. Through thoughtful facilitation, our instructors enable participants to analyze their customary role in the group, take risks, try new ideas, learn new skills, and develop a community of high-performing learners.
These programs can be conducted at conference and retreat centers, hotels, local parks, the client’s premises or at our own facility in Long Island City. We offer these programs year-round and tailor them for content and length to meet our clients’ needs.
Learning by Doing
Learning by doing is at the heart of Outward Bound’s approach to leadership development and team building. During team challenge events, teams are given a resource guide with some basic supplies in preparation for each experiential activity/challenge. Teams must strategize to find solutions for completing team challenges, helping them practice and enact problem-solving, innovation, shared leadership, communication skills, team planning, and time management. Action-oriented by design, team challenge events can be customized to specific program goals.
SAMPLE ACTIVITIES & CHALLENGES
Group Activities (5 – 30 minutes)
- Matrix: Only one safe path exists on the entire grid. Memory and strategy are required for each team to find their way through the matrix.
- Bob’s Sled: Teams try to move marbles from the starting line to the finish bucket without stopping or dropping the ball. A coordinated team effort is required to manage the assortment of pipeline components.
- Spider Web: Participants pass through various size holes in a giant web structure without touching the string or using any of the openings more than once. This challenge requires a great deal of cooperation, trust and “start to finish” planning to enable the team to be successful.
Large Group Challenges (30 – 120 minutes)
- The Great NYC Outward Bound Egg Launch: Using the materials provided, groups must construct a delivery system that will propel an egg into a target area 25 feet away without any damange to the egg. Groups must also present a marketing pitch describing the transport system that involves the whole team, 1-2 minutes in length. Creativity and humor are encouraged.
- Build a School: Participants attempt to create their annual budgets by investing in eight elements for a successful school (Strong Administration, Qualified Teachers, Enthusiastic Students, Powerful Curriculum, Involved Parents, Well Maintained Buildings, Technology and Teaching Supplies, Involved Community) while also marketing their expertise and energy to help to develop other schools in the region. Teams with balanced budgets earn more points.
A Closer Look: Bridge Building Activity
This activity, ideal for a large group working as one, focuses on Applied Learning and Initiative, Perfection, Collaboration, Strategic Thinking, Planning, Time Management, and Final Product
This activity also aligns with organizational values and interests around quality orientation, cross-functional thinking, improved efficiencies, and adaptability.
In teams of 10 – 12, participants pretend to be a team engineers who must design and build a prototype of a bridge. Each team then divides itself into group; n separate rooms, each group must build one half of the final bridge. Groups have limited simulated phone, email, and fax to keep in touch with their counterparts working on the other half of the bridge, and must use these tools to keep them on track during the construction phase. Once built, the rejoined bridge prototypes are shared with all teams, who assesses the aesthetic value of the creations, and tested for their strength.
This team building adventure will encourage team’s creative energy as they move through the stages of designing, planning, and building, troubleshooting and presenting. Participants learn how to make the most of the planning phase and how to better communicate throughout the lifecycle of a project. Build a Bridge also provides an opportunity to examine the ambiguous nature of communication and reinforces best practices around proactively ensuring that one’s message is understood.
Bridge Building Challenge requires
- A shared vision (the design) which must then be communicated through a variety of mediums: verbal, written, drawings, to other teammates.
- That participants master resource allocation if they are to be successful
- Strong project management skills
- Building consensus and implementing a plan
- Collaboration by many people who may not share work space.
- Mechanical skills and interpersonal skills, such as attention to details and a big picture thinking
BRIDGE BUILDING CHALLENGE FLOW
Our lead facilitator provides a brief overview of what the group can expect the parameters of the building assignment and guidelines for successful completion.
Approximately 10 minutes
Team Roles & Goals
Teams discuss the goals that they want to meet: for example, communicate clearly and concisely, garner the ideas of all participants, or utilize skills and talents from everyone on the team. Then they establish roles. Establishing roles lends insight into workplace dynamics and can set the stage for a meaningful team building experience. We encourage participants to consider both process roles and task roles. Who will be the designer? Who will do the drawings? Who will handle signage? Who is good at collaborating and reaching consensus? Who enjoys giving presentations and wants to take responsibility for that?
Approximately 20 minutes
Each team conducts its own round table discussion to develop blueprints. Group planning is fascinating to experience as team dynamics emerge. Thwarted structural engineers have the opportunity to become an “expert leader” get to experiment with a variety of creative design concepts. The teams are allowed to examine their building materials at this stage: foam core, dowel rods, pen knives, glue, straws, construction paper, etc.
Approximately 30 minutes
During the construction phase, teams have only two simulated phone calls, e-mails and simulated faxes. Teams must be strategic about the content, the timing and the medium of communications. Time is limited and even the best planning can’t prepare a team for every eventuality. Participants have to make decisions on the fly, sometimes without the input of the other half of their team.
Approximately 90-120 minutes
The anticipation at this stage is palpable as the participants wonder: Can we get the two halves to connect? Will they match? How much weight will the bridge support? Teams are given only a few minutes to connect the halves. Depending on the level of difficulty your group is seeking, we’ll put restrictions on the materials that can be used to join the halves.
Approximately 10 minutes
Teams prepare a sales and marketing presentation to unveil their finished product. Not only do they describe the features of their bridge, but they detail the team processes that allowed them to build the prototype: collaboration, decision-making, communication, etc. Past participants have commented that seeing what other teams did gave them insight into their own behaviors. Approximately Approximately 15 minutes
All teams reconvene to talk about their experiences during the Build a Bridge challenge. We address: How they organized around the tasks? How did the two “sides” communicate throughout the construction phase? What lessons can they take back to the work environment? Who fulfilled leadership roles?
Approximately 20 minutes