Big question: How do you team build with a team full of teambuilding experts?
You take them to a fantastic community building, stick them in an art studio and have them create a collaborative work of art. Recently, the team from Teamworx did exactly that!
Teamworx met for lunch at Eight Letters to kick things off with a healthy and delicious lunch. Catching up in person as a team is very important to us, as we don’t have a central office – we all work from home or from various client offices. We communicate all the time on slack, but nothing beats seeing someone face to face and giving them a hug. Teams work more efficiently when they know and trust each other, so casual hang out time is essential for a strong team.
After lunch, it was over to Te Ora where we settled into a rented studio space and took a critical look at the challenge.
Create a poster as a team which demonstrates Teamworx values, who we are and what we do.
Katherine volunteered to facilitate and first, we took a moment to plan ahead and build a schedule and timeline for getting the project done. Although we didn’t know exactly how long each part of the process would take, we did have a deadline, so we counted back from that. We were generous with some parts of the day, and made sure to include a section for customer feedback – we didn’t want to make something which only made visual sense to ourselves.
We also had a $50 budget for supplies, so a supplies run was factored into our timeline as well.
Using posters and sharpies we highlighted the requirements. We also made lists of our values and all the things our company offers and stuck them up on the wall to refer to. Using agile to plan made this pretty easy.
For the actual design of the posters, we ran a crazy eights style exercise to brainstorm ideas. Although none of us were sure we could get eight ideas out, so we did crazy fours. One minute for each quarter of a piece of paper, any idea accepted and artistic ability not an issue.
That done, we stuck them to the wall and we each took turns explaining the ideas behind our design. We took a few minutes to then dot vote on the elements we liked – 15 dots each person. This approach allowed us to go in a direction most people were excited about.
With our favourite elements chosen we debated how to put them together – this process took about fifteen minutes, and it was a real test of our communication as a team. Would someone get precious about not altering their design? Would someone shoot down someone else’s idea in a less than constructive way? This kind of improvising and collaboration can reveal dysfunctions in a team and highlight egos or character clashes which may not have been obvious previously.
In our case, we managed to come up with an idea which combined a lot of the favoured elements and got to work making draft sketches and refining the process through several agile iteration sketches.
A heart shape which is the bird’s eye view floorplan of a house. The room walls are puzzle pieces which fit together, with services and values in each of the rooms. There’s a flow through the rooms, from the long windy road of difficulty, through the Teamworx house and out into a sold path leading to a bright future.
We were even ahead of schedule!
We split into two groups at this point. Three members of the team went to interview random people off the street and get some feedback on the design. If it made no sense to someone with no context, it’d be back to the drawing board. Just like with a product launch, we didn’t want to create something which no one could use or relate to.
Two of us went on a supplies run to a nearby discount store and purchased paints, a big canvas, glitter paint, stickers and some very pretty butterflies.
With positive customer feedback and lots of fun supplies, we got creating! Time ran a little short – we hadn’t factored in paint drying time into our schedule (a lesson for next time), and there was some incredible improvisation:
The picture of a box with sparkles coming out of it to represent product became an actual dimensional cardboard box with stick-on jewels. The foundations of the house display our Pepeha, which Tracey put together with reference to online resources.
Communication and co-operation were demonstrated as everyone tried to put things on the canvas without getting in each other’s way or smearing the work they’d just done. We focused not on getting it perfect, but a Minimum Viable Product which looked workable.
We finished right on time and were all very pleased – impressed even – with the resulting image.
All in all, this was a fun and challenging exercise which gently tested the communication and collaboration skills of the team. And in the end, we had a lot of great memories as well as a better understanding for each other. Besides that, we have a brilliant image to use to demonstrate who we are.
If you’d like to try the Poster Creation Challenge then get in touch! We’d love to facilitate this activity for your team, and see what you come up with.
Extra for experts:
Photo challenge. How do you co-ordinate everyone to jump at the same time as the camera timer?
(We didn’t manage it, so any suggestions welcomed!)
In our next blog post, we describe the elements of our poster. Stay tuned!