From teambuilding to creative togetherness

New meeting formats, hybrid meetings, and creative meeting room setup. The future is welcoming exciting new ways to meet. In the series of the Future of Meetings I am looking into the new meeting trends we are observing around us.

In this blog post I am looking into “creative togetherness with a purpose” which is the replacement for what most of us know simply as teambuilding. The word, unfortunately, has a lot of unfortunate and dissuasive connotations and it does not really cover the changes we are experiencing in the industry and in society in general.

And why is it that team building is so discouraging?
Well, teambuilding usually gives us associations to what you could call “Rambo” courses, aka rough and macho experiences designed to allow city slickers to get ‘back to their roots’. Later, the term became a tool for smart and fast consultant companies to charge exorbitant prices for facilitating simple tasks as putting together LEGOs or a group task of moving a stick without touching it or drawing your strategy on a flipover.

Aiming higher
It would be fair to say that teambuilding went from “exceeding your personal boundaries” to “learning to work together in order to work together” to be social interaction with a higher purpose today. It is no longer enough to get to know your co-workers better. There has to be a more profound reason for building your team. For instance, we can do an assignment to help others or learn a new skill while bonding with your colleagues. Today’s professionals don’t want to do something where they cannot see the underlying purpose. Teambuilding today is about working together while learning or doing charity.

And when is it that you learn the most about a colleague? Is it when Jane, who can’t swim, is stressed about getting out at sea in a kayak? When everybody’s eyes are on Peter in the “raise-the-stick-task”? Or is it when you all collaborate to find the key to exit the Mystery Escape Room, where you suddenly learn that Karen is actually very adept at finding patterns in symbols – something that you know you are not the best at yourself?

The objective must always fit the target audience
Most importantly when planning a teambuilding activity is to have a keen eye on the purpose. It makes a difference if you are kicking off a large group of convention delegates or you are aiming at having a team of five people work closer together. There are activities that fit one purpose better than the other.

Furthermore, you have to consider your target audience. Just as there are certain foods you don’t serve for specific cultures, there are some teambuilding activities you do not subject some groups to. And then you should acknowledge other people’s personal boundaries. There is absolutely no indication of a person’s abilities to cooperate in the office if he or she is shaking nervously at the thought of sailing a sea kayak…unless that person’s profession is to sail sea kayaks with her co-workers!

And in the end, we want to give our participants or employees a good experience and not a stressful one. Our world undoubtedly has enough of those already. Let us instead aim at creative togetherness with a purpose.

Next time on the blog I give you three examples of how to carry out the creative togetherness with a purpose in real life. Stay tuned!

* The picture is taken by me at Comwell Hotel Aarhus in their cowork space

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