Team Building with virtual and live participants – learnings from Event Camp Twin Cities 2011

It has been almost a month since Event Camp Twin Cites 2011 (ECTC11) and I’ve had time to reflect on what I learned about creating team building sessions in a hybrid meeting environment. I wanted to share those insights with you.

Background:

Back in late June, Ray Hanson asked me to help develop an interactive team / gaming experience for ECTC11.  We wanted to push the envelope and go out on a limb in creating a hybrid meeting experience that was different than anything that had been done before – in other words, we wanted to create a customized hybrid team building program that was interwoven throughout the entire two-day event where both live and virtual participants were working together on the same team doing real team building challenges.

To the best of our knowledge, this had not been done before.

Sure, there have been sessions before where live and virtual participants were placed on teams and worked on challenges.  Any number of technology suppliers provide the means for people to compete in a trivia challenge or earn badges where their scores or efforts get rolled up to a “team.”

 This isn’t team building – it is team gaming. 

Team gaming allows for individuals to participate and compete and even feel like they are part of a team but it doesn’t allow for a deeper, more sustained bonding and trust building that are necessary for team building.  If you want to add some energy and fun for an hour into your event, team gaming challenges are great.  If you want to help teams work better together and really get to know the people that they are on a team with, you need to do team building.

We used ECTC11 as a laboratory to try to see if this could be done in what we called “The Great Event Camp Challenge.”

What we did:

As mentioned before, team gaming for events is not too daunting – as long as you are focusing on individual participation from both live and virtual participants.  However, creating a custom team event for a hybrid audience presented some significant challenges.  We needed to look at how people engaged in the event, how they communicated with each other, how learnings were going to be processed, and how teams would work together as a team and not just as individual participants.

For the Great Event Camp Challenge, we decided to interweave the team sessions throughout the event.  We developed three different avenues for teams to participate:

  1. Team Challenges
  2. Team Badges
  3. Team Case Study

Each of the avenues provided teams with ways to earn points.  Ultimately, we had decided that we wanted this event to be competitive to help keep teams engaged and attentive.  The team with the most points won.  Continue reading “Team Building with virtual and live participants – learnings from Event Camp Twin Cities 2011”

Building Teams – Is There a Growing Need?

Back in 1997, when The Lantern Group started almost 70% of our work focused on team development.  We did everything from on-going team development consulting with managers, to team assessments,  to experiential  ropes courses, to developed a number of fun and effective team building events.  Over the years, our focus shifted to other aspects of the business and our team development work decreased until for the last few years it comprised just under 10% of our revenue. 

But this year, something has changed.

Since February we have received more inquiries about doing team building programs than we have in the past two or three years combined.  These are both big and small programs – from groups 200 plus to small executive teams of 8-10 people.  The managers and VPs that we’ve talked to have indicated that they want to do something to help increase the effectiveness of their team while also providing them with a fun activity that can be a diversion from the everyday stress they have been under.

Normally I would just count my blessings and be thankful for leads coming in.   But this drastic increase has made me wonder, “why?”  Why the increase?  Why now?

I have a few theories:

1.  Pent up need – because of the recession, companies did not have budget that they could use to help build their team and improve bonding.

2. Changes in the teams – either through layoffs or attrition, team dynamics have changed and there is a need to improve how people work together

3. Need to have fun, but with a message – again, due to the recession, many companies have had people working under significant stress, longer hours, with more responsibility.  Astute leaders see that there is a need to let their people unwind and yet they want to make sure that there are some learnings and insights to be had

4. Work itself has changed – the very nature of work has changed with more people working off-site, more technology, more need to collaborate in new ways.  Good leaders use team development programs to help sort that out.

What are your thoughts?   Do you think there is a growing need?  Please leave a comment.

1 lost commercial – 1 big teachable moment

This past summer I was conducting a team building program  for a company that does some fantastic work helping other companies work more effectively.  We conducted an event that had teams create sixty-second commercials that highlighted who they were, what value they brought and why somebody would use their services.  We consciously give them a lot of information and very limited time to make their commercials.   They had to do rush to get this done.

We told them that they needed to work together, be creative, and focus on quality…we emphasized how the little details matter.   As you will see, the little things really do matter.

One team accidentally taped over their commercial and had a little over sixty seconds of film that showed feet walking…

We took this as an opportunity to show how important the small details are.  We created the following video that was shown to the entire team at the video showings.  It was a fantastic teachable moment and one that was a highlight of the meeting.  The group discussed how easy it is for things like this to happen and what needed to be done to make sure that these types of errors didn’t crop up.

Take a look and let us know what you think…

By the way, the team re-shot the commercial and it was fantastic along with the others…shows you how adversity can bring out the best in us sometimes….

How Well Does Your Organization Stack Up? Guest blog by Paul Schoening

As the hiring outlook improves with anticipation of the new calendar year on the horizon, election dust settling and corporate tax liability gaining clarity, the talent exodus will begin in next few months.

Are you ready?

If your organization has not installed proactive mitigation efforts, you could lose your best talent over the next 2 quarters (in other words, if your not doing something now, you’re going to pay for it later).  Successful recession recovery strategy should not ignore the critical variable of having the best talent on-board as well as engaging the “survivors”, lest ye not forget;

“High-commitment organizations outperform low-commitment organizations by 47%”

Watson Wyatt

“Engaged  employees are 43% more productive.”

The Hay Group

Our research shows that engaged employees can increase your financial position by almost 200% while disengaged employees can decrease your financial position by almost 25%.

http://www.globalstrategicmgmt.com/engaged- employees.

“In high-growth organizations, 84% of employees know where the organization is headed. In low-growth organizations, only 52% do.”

In Momentum

“Dependence  on remote forms of communication has left many younger workers bereft of interpersonal skills.:

Fast Company

“Camaraderie  between co-workers fuels much more than new business leads – relationships are also key drivers for recruiting, engagement and retention.”

Talent Management Magazine

Must we go on with the quotes? These are some pretty credible sources I might add. Continue reading “How Well Does Your Organization Stack Up? Guest blog by Paul Schoening”

Survivor: Corporate America edition – Guest blog by Paul Schoening

Survivor “Damn Lucky”

Counter-intuitively, organizations tend to find difficulty prioritizing their employee engagement efforts during challenging environments. In fact, during this recession many have executed a status quo strategy, which communicates to their single greatest resource that you are “damn lucky to still be here”. Take a moment to think about this – has this been your organizations approach to engagement?

Therein lies the issue! If we tell our recession survivors they’re lucky to have a job and yet we label them our greatest remaining resource, we are sending mixed messages.

My Story Continue reading “Survivor: Corporate America edition – Guest blog by Paul Schoening”

Teams – Part of the Motivation Equation

Team building
Team Building Fun!

We know teams

We do a lot of work helping improve how teams operate.  Some of it is straight old fun team building – you know the type where you go off-site for a day and do different types of games and activities (note – some people love these types of programs and others detest them with a passion).   Other programs we do are much more intense and involve really working on specific team issues and developing action plans for greater collaboration, communication, or productivity.

We’ve worked with big teams.  We’ve worked with small teams.  We’ve done programs for executives and for line-workers.  We’ve worked with teams that are working well and just want to get to that next level and teams that really are on their last leg and need immediate urgent care or they will implode.

We have done one hour fun sessions.  We’ve created on-going programs that last months and require intensive work by the participants.

Regardless of the type of team development we are doing – it is also part of building a more motivational organization. Continue reading “Teams – Part of the Motivation Equation”