Saturday, June 21, 2014

How I Put My Group Through Extreme Team Building - Amazing Race/Survivor Style - PART TWO

In the last post I detailed the beginnings of our team building adventure where Nobscot team members landed in Lihue, Kauai with no idea where they would be staying for the week. They each received a clue from one of their clients and had to put them together to figure out their next steps. You can read Part One here:  How I Put My Group Through Extreme Team Building - Amazing Race / Survivor Style - Part One

When creating team building activities there is always the concern about making it too easy or too hard. We had to get that balance right. If it was too easy, we would have wasted an important opportunity. Our remote workers only get to spend limited time with each other each year so it's important that the time be used well. On the flipside, if we made it too difficult, we're not quite sure where they would have ended up for the night!

As a side note, when hearing about the activity someone on our HR forum said that the concept of getting somewhere without plans in place would have caused extreme anxiety. That's something I hadn't thought of but will keep in mind in the future. We don't want to freak our employees out TOO much.

But we did want to freak them out a little bit. Working in HR technology can be unpredictable so being able to work when things are ambiguous is important. To keep them guessing (and worried), instead of the clues sending them to a beautiful resort, it sent them to a vacant lot. A beautiful vacant lot across from the beach --- but void of any hotel, house or accommodations. Having earlier alluded to the group about the reality show Survivor and possibly camping, we were hoping they might think they would be in tents for the week.

Meanwhile, Bruce and I were waiting for them at their final destination.  Time was passing and they hadn't arrived when we expected. (Looks like WE were the ones worrying not them!) We finally gave up and drove down to beach lot where they were supposed to arrive first. We parked at the end of the road under the pine trees fronting the bay and looked around. No sight of them. Not more than 3 minutes later as we were sitting in the car trying to decide what to do, two cars of Nobscotians came down the road and parked RIGHT NEXT TO US. We hid our faces and tried not to look conspicuous while listening to them.  "I think this it!" And off they ran. 

They went onto the lot and found the secret clue box.

Laura finds the Clue Box

Bruce had tucked some match sticks in the box as a red herring.

"Uh Oh. We're going to have to build a fire."

The scroll inside the box had instructions. I think this was my favorite part of the activity. The scroll included 10 things they had to do. At the top it said to read all the instructions first before getting started. Tucked in one of the ten steps was one that told them they could skip all the steps and proceed. This was to test if they paid attention to detail and read instructions before beginning.  If they hadn't, they would have spent a lot of time doing some useless things. Luckily, they read everything first!

Step 6. Skip all ten tasks!

The last step was plugging in their secondary clues into a Madlibs type directions sheet. This gave them directions to their final destination.

They filled in their clues and they were off!

Awaiting them was their home and our workspace for the next 7 days. (Thank you, Glenn!)


The "We found the Key" Selfie

 It was a lot of work putting together the adventure but as you can see from those smiles it was well worth. It was a great way to kick off our week and exemplified how much they can achieve when everyone works together.

As for me, my reward was when they secretly threw a birthday party for me the following the night!

Many thanks to our AMAZING team. Love you guys!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How I Put My Group Through Extreme Team Building - Amazing Race/Survivor Style - PART ONE

Clearly I had been watching too much Survivor and other reality TV when I concocted this year's "Nobology 2014" event. Nobology is our annual meeting in Hawaii for our senior mainland group where we do strategic planning, product roadmapping, team building and training activities.  Rather than providing trip details, photos and directions to some lovely place where they would be staying, this year I posted a note on our internal forum that they were going to have to solve some Team Tasks to figure it all out.

To get them started with their main task, each person needed to call a specific client of theirs by telephone and ask him or her for their Secret Clue. And just for fun we "accidentally" scrambled the names of the clients.

We had names like:

Vinke McNodal
Rhyar Loofir
Airs Froste
Riggen Ocely
Lelimi Wallyaca

I chose some of our fun clients that I thought would get a kick out of playing along with us. They were instructed to await a call from the Nobscot employee and then read them their clue verbally over the phone. After they read the clue, they were to email the clue image along with any other images provided. They were all great sports about participating and I'm very grateful for their help. Thank you Vinke, Rhyar, Airs, Riggen and Lelimi!  I'm absolutely sure that Nobscot has the best clients on the planet.

The clues would lead our team on their journey but since this was designed as a team building activity, none of the clues on their own were very helpful.  They only became meaningful once they were all put together. Much like any successful business, united they stand, divided they fall. 

The team was not allowed to share their clues with each other until they landed in Hawaii. And from what I gather they all lived up to that rule. That foiled the plans of one colleague who came out a day early and was going to do some scouting in advance (I'm talking to you, Adventure Dan!) 

Here is a look at all the clues and images:

Prior to this activity, they had a Team Task to secure their flights. They were given an overall team budget that they needed to stay within and they had hints about it being important to come in at roughly the same time and early in the day so they could find where they were going.  Even though they were coming from all across North America, they managed to coordinate their times pretty well.

Little did I know that at the Toronto airport, Laura would be required to provide an address of where she was staying. Luckily she knew my address and used that. A similar situation occurred with the immigration forms that need to be filled out when flying into Hawaii.  Luckily the team was resourceful! Kerrie's seat mates, a couple that was going to vacation in Princeville was confused when they asked her where she was staying and she said, "I don't know!" They were concerned that she didn't have any reservations.

Upon arriving in Lihue, the team made plans to meet up and review the clues and start their adventure.

Would they be led to a nice hotel? Some lovely condos? A house at the beach? Or would they be sleeping outside and learning how to build a shelter and create fire?

See Part Two for the rest of the team building Nobscot style story.