At the beginning of 09 the gloom descended… then came teambuilding

July 28, 2009 : General Team Building

I was reflecting on my Lead Facilitator colleague Mike Tierney’s February blog entry this year where he talks about how successful companies are investing smart in team building and people development when times are hard. This prompted me to highlight a recent and very relevant example of this, which also serves as a great case study of our approach to team and organisation development.

The Staff Away Day in question was for a group-wide marketing operations function and took place in July 2009, after a painful period of instability, uncertainty, change, transition and consolidation. This bespoke piece of work came around through a period of in-depth consultation led by Mike. This took place over June 2009, and a common understanding with the project sponsor of expectations and clearly defined outcomes was established. Through this iterative and highly responsive approach, we were able to align their business issues with a stimulating and participative programme of sessions and activities.

The event was positioned to acknowledge the efforts of staff over the period of change, help the teams within the group function tounderstand each other better, and gain a firmer steer on business direction. We asked participants to do some pre-event prep and managed participant expectations in advance through clear pre-event communication. Due to the potentially sensitive nature of aspects of the event, this was further reinforced on the day by agreeing up-front the ground rules for participation.

The day comprised a central ‘line in the sand’ internal business address, complimented by customised workshop sessions and team development tools such as:

  • “Opening the Windows” – using the Johari Window tool to share knowledge to mutual benefit across teams as they recognise overlaps and potential opportunities.
  • “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – getting teams to focus on what has been achieved during the recent past and take pride in this.

In addition, experiential activities such as Human Top Trumps, “Business Balls” (a specifically designed activity to introduce the concept of overloading and prioritising work) and a facilitated Kinetic Connections whole group simulation were incorporated to reinforce one of the client’s requirements of “having fun with purpose”.

Returning to Mike’s February blog comment that “the value to the business of well targeted and designed team development interventions is well proven”, the success of the day was very much echoed by the feedback provided by the client. This type of intervention also underlines the benefits that can be gained through business relevant approach to team development after a period of instability and change. A real and positive difference can be made by creating a safe, non-threatening learning environment that provides a shared development experience with a clarity and focus on future business direction.

To read Mike Tierney’s profile, follow this link.

For further information on any of the organisation development and change related issues that Sandy has raised here, please contact him on 0131 333 0066 and

Read more about Maximillion’s corporate events.

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