Teambuilding and Italian Ice-cream

Posted by on March 23, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Teambuilding has become a world-wide phenomenon and team building sessions have become synonymous with every corporate breakaway, conference and get-together.

Strange as it may seem, but some of the highlights from my first trip to Italy were not the marvelous ruins, the piazzas, the Vatican, Florence, or even the maze of narrow streets and waterways in Venice. No, it was the magical feeling of indulging all my senses (and forex) in the variety of Italian ice creams. Every major city and every major tourist attraction I visited was dotted with vendors selling “gelato” in every flavour you can think of. Sometimes more than 100 choices!!

After sampling only a few of the flavours, I settled on my favourites – I soon became blind to the countless other flavours and variations. People are the same in this sense irrespective of what they’re buying. We quickly form opinions – based on very little other than our own experience – and then we stick with them.

The same happens with “team building”. People may have experienced fun events under the label of teambuilding and then become blind to the real potential of professionally designed team development programmes. Traditional “teambuilding” where fun ranks high on the list of outcomes, should be branded as corporate recreation, whereas team development programmes will strive to accomplish much higher objectives and be more concerned with transferring skills to the workplace. The table below highlights the main differences between “corporate recreation” and Team Development.

Corporate Recreation 

• Task oriented with emphasis on activities

• Often described using the word FUN

• Results are measured on the group having fun during the event.

• Short term relationship with the client.

• Usually a once off intervention.

• Little time is spend with client before / after the intervention

• More superficial approach focusing on having fun, entertaining, adrenaline and excitement.

• Delegates don’t learn new business / life skills.

Experiential Team Development

• Outcomes based

• Results are measured on changed behaviour at the workplace

• Long term relationship with the client

• Part of a continuous development process.

• Focus on developing a relationship – pre analysis, follow-up, and impact assessment.

• Functional approach focused on attaining outcomes and moving the group towards optimal functioning though constant conditioning.

• Delegates learn new business and life skills

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