Team Building Games are an important factor in developing teams in complex organisations. However team games often become an excuse for ‘intense activity’ or as a way to ‘test’ individuals. Games devised holistically can offer much in terms of whole team development and ability to apply lessons to real world problems.
Team building games range from outward-bound activities to some activity-based goal that needs to be delivered. Many of these are set up with wrong end in mind:
- Some are focused on how individuals perform as part of a team, rather then how the team performs collectively to deliver something.
- Some don’t bring about innate traits in problem-solving such as curiosity, encouraging and experimenting. Reynolds and Lewis point to this in their article in Harvard Business Review1
- Some often have one answer or want to deliver a very specific experience(s). In the real word, solutions to problems/experiences are divergent and can’t be predicated.
- Some focus on meeting a target rather than continuous improvement. Arbitrary targets are great for creating intensive activity, but in real world, the targets can be fickle (customer requirements change), are multi-dimensional (the customer requires many things that sum up to value) and arbitrary targets can be meaningless to many.
Team building games, particularly in the service industry must be based on several factors:
- Based on some real service process: These are processes such as opening a new bank account, insurance claims, buying an online product, health intervention etc.
- Ingrain customer and their experience: Customer experience is a core part of service delivery. Customer value exists in several dimensions (e.g. efficiency, quality and overall experience) and this is how customers judge the service process.
- Allow variation in game play: One set of standard processes do not work in the service sector. Games must recognise that a standard process cannot serve each customer individually, and allows this variation as part of the game
- Ensure the right set of measures: There has to be a built-in measurement process that connects process measurements to the bottom line (e.g. costs, revenue, reputation, asset utilisation). This becomes the true north for the team, rather then an arbitrary target.
- Improvisation: The game must allow the facilitator to improvise. More flexibility for the facilitator allows them to run the simulation so that the simulation will meet the specific learning needs of the organisation
- Fun: Games must incorporate a strong element of fun while learning to keep people engaged. Laughter and humour combined with experience can bring about new insight.
If the team game is run right the outcome is one of a high performing team2, where the sum is much larger than the parts. The experience of collaboration, continuous improvement, taking calculated risk, focus, and aspiration all create something unique which can be applied back in the organisation.
We have designed a new team building game around a fictitious Insurance company, InsureFlow that specialises in asset insurance and trades internationally. One of InsureFlow’s divisions provides tractor insurance. The goal is to deal quicker with claims, ensure a good service experience while improving productivity, reducing stress in the workforce, and achieving sustainable benefits to the bottom line. Our game allows the following elements of development:
- Team Based Problem Solving
- Collaboration to achieve beyond expectation
- Continuous improvement mind-set
- Measuring Benefits of Change
- Understanding Customer Experience and Expectations
- Balancing Demand, Capacity and Resources
The game comes in a well-presented box with clear instructions and a facilitator guide. Alternatively we can run the simulation for you at your premises. You can find more about the game at https://www.kinetik.uk.com/products/team-building-game/.
Ketan Varia, with editorial support from Burcu Atay. Ketan Varia has written a book on change management ‘The Art of Transformational Change’ and is available on Amazon.
- Reynolds & Lewis, “The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams”, Harvard Business Review. April 2018.
- Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, “The Discipline of Teams, Harvard Business Review. Aug 2005.