Team-Building is Crap

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by Mark Collard

Teambuilding: photo credit - foothillsconferencecentre.com.auI spend a few minutes each day contributing to various educational blogs and social media platforms.

In one post on TeachThought, a program provider from Romania lamented that many of their prospects tell them that ‘team-building is crap.’

Here’s an edited extract of my response:

“… in my professional experience, the #1 reason people believe ‘team-building’ does not work is because of a poor previous experience. And in all cases, when these programs are examined more closely, it is clear that the problem was a meaningless approach / rationale behind the program. If people view their ‘team-building’ program as a series of irrelevant exercises, divorced from their workplace or school, etc, then the program ends up just being (at best) an excuse to have a fun time. It is critical that all programs have a philosophical underpinning which provides the glue between the activity and the group’s ability to make sense of what they are doing. There are many philosophical elements, but in brief, I believe there are five key tenets – challenge by choice, valued participation, irresistible fun, a sequence appropriate to the needs of the group and finally, substantive debriefing or processing of the experience (to ensure learning takes place). I think you’ll find that people who refer to ‘team-building as crap’ are referring to programs that are missing at least one if not most of these core elements. For a more elaborate discussion of this philosophical framework go to www.playmeo.com/philosophy …”

In an earlier post, I shared that I’m not a fan of the word ‘team-building’ per se. However, regardless of the term used, why do some people have such a poor opinion of team-building?

What do you think?

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Where Did You Get That Activity From?

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by Mark Collard

White Australia GameHow often as a program leader have you asked this question when you came across a new group activity? I must ask this dozens of times a month as I search for new material, and work alongside my peers.

Rarely can you trace an activity to its root source, but here is just one example – Traffic Jam, one of the all time classic group initiatives, which I learned from Karl Rohnke in his seminal Silver Bullets publication.

Today, I discovered the the basic construct of Traffic Jam embraced in an activity called the ‘White Australia Game’ which was launched 100 years ago, in 1914. Click here to see the online news article. Please overlook the racist platitudes of the game (a sad reflection of a racist government policy at the time), and rather focus, on the advent of the game.

What is one of the oldest known, verifiable sources you have for a group activity?

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Become A Better Teacher – Play!

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by Mark Collard

I’m a regular browser of Edutopia. Today, I came across a wonderful article which captured the essence of Dr Staurt Brown’s book ‘play.’

Dr Staurt Brown's book - playI have referred to Dr Brown’s book on many occasions throughout my blog and various playful workshops in the field of adventure education. The book explores how play shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul. Awesome, simple, plain-speaking content which every teacher should read.

In the Edutopia post, I think you’ll enjoy the author’s personal reflections on the importance for all educators to get off their butts and get out and play.

Click here to read >> Summer Professional Development: Play!

Oh, and if you have not read Dr Brown’s book, click the book cover above.

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Looking for Inspiration?

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This Tedx Talk is super brilliant. It is moving, inspirational and above all, demonstrates several lessons - it’s not always about ‘me,’ there is enormous power in taking a step forward, and amazing things can happen when we work together.

The Talk is presented by Kyle Bryant, who has Friedreich’s Ataxia, a debilitating disease. It was passed onto me by Project Adventure Inc, who delivers an annual program for people who suffer from FA each year in Boston.

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How To Spread A Good Idea

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by Mark Collard

I delivered a unique session as part of the Victorian Applied Learning Association’s annual conference last week, which was hosted under the theme of ‘Are You An Edupreneur?’ 

Usually, I present one or more interactive sessions, but this year the organisers asked me to develop a session which would share with other educators the strategies I use to share my ideas with the wider world.

The session ran for an hour, but here are the key points:

1. IDEA

  • Are you passionate about this idea? Does this idea get you out of bed?
  • Does your idea solve a problem? The best ideas, those which spread, are those which solve a problem for its customers / users, whether they know the problem or not.
  • What difference does it make? That is, will this idea simply be different to other offerings in the market place, or will your idea make a difference to the results your customers are looking for?

2. MEDIUM

  • Just one strategy here – Publish. Share you idea – blog, write a book (hard, soft cover or digital format), articles, online tutorials, etc.

3. ASSET

  • This step is all about moving from selling your time (producing income) and selling a result (producing an asset).
  • Develop your idea around adding or giving enormous VALUE to your end users.
  • Consider building a list of potential users, by integrating an optin page on your website, or collecting the contact details of people you share your idea with, etc.
  • Finally, give, give, give and then ask for something. You must build a trusting relationship, one built on adding or giving something of value to people first. People can ‘smell the sell’ a mile away, so if the only reason you are communicating with folks is to sell them something, you’ll lose all credibility.

There is a lot more to share in this realm, but this is the model I have used very successfully for many of my enterprises.

Please contact me if you’d like to know more.

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