A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of leading a team building workshop for the change management track of one Parker Avery’s current system implementation projects. Full disclosure, I love team building opportunities but am also fully aware of the somewhat negative stigma associated with them. Even within some of my closest team members, I could feel an undercurrent of dissension any time the words “team building” were mentioned. Therefore, while prepping for the session, I was determined to make sure everyone had equal (and mandatory) amounts of fun and relevant “aha moments.”

Knowing that a half-day away from their desks is a rare circumstance, it was important that the agenda did not feel like a waste of time. The primary purpose was to bring the core project team (business leads, sponsors, IT and external implementation partners) together and prepare them for their roles on the project. However, because we would have such a wide and diverse group of people in the room, the event began to take on competing (although well meaning) interests. Yes, we could have made the focus around status documentation or decision governance – both very important, but not quite what I envisioned.

I’ve talked before about the need to “create the right culture” and felt strongly our team building session would be an important moment to help define our project culture. I wanted everyone to walk out of the room having learned more about each other, have takeaways of how they could work more effectively as a project team, how to become better change agents to support the business AND feel energized about the project.

Audacious, I know.

When participants first walked into the room, they were randomly assigned seats. This was done on purpose; because it was essential to have the participants work with people that they may not typically have the chance to interact with. Throughout the session, they continued to be rearranged into different groups to have the opportunity to mingle and to avoid a sense of complacency.

They were given five “rules” at the beginning of the session:
1. Communicate
2. Listen to others
3. Ask questions so you really understand
4. Participate in the exercises, activities and discussions…fully
5. Have fun.

These are basic and str