If you’re a fan of “Game of Thrones” and seek an adventurous team competition, this is the event for you. Control the fate of your house by using your forces to diminish the armies of others. Teamwork, wit and creativity will allow you to tame dragons and win this spirited competition. Game of Crowns provides extraordinary group problem solving challenges to which there are multiple solutions. Can you “Escape the Dungeon,” “Rule the Nightwalkers,” or “Protect the Castle?” These are just a few of the creative challenges found in this entertaining and meaningful series of events. Winter may be coming, but it is always summer in Corporate Games’ Game of Crowns.
You’ve done Boat Building, Team Olympics, a Scavenger Hunt, Cooking, Bocce Ball, Ropes, Murder Mysteries, Escape Rooms and more. So what now?! Yes, most team building providers still offer these options, but the most creative and forward thinking companies are moving beyond the standard offerings. Here are some of the latest ideas and possibilities:
- Make team building fit your meeting schedule by doing short team challenge breaks rather than one 2-3 hour event. Things that offer a series of challenges that are either stand-alone or build upon each other are great. An excellent example is “Engineering Minutes-to-Win-It”—a series of fast-paced design and construction activities. Each one takes about 15 minutes, and includes constructing things like a Table Top Hover Craft, a Rocket that will fly over 100 feet in the air, a Ping Pong Catapult—and many more. These are great energizers, and can easily be accommodated into any agenda.
- Escape Events—they are not limited to small groups and to brick and mortar escape rooms. These can be done anywhere for any number of participants and in any time frame. The essence of an escape room is figuring out a number of puzzles and the meaning of various objects in order to open a lock and “escape” a room. This sort of scenario does not need to last an hour and can be recreated in any meeting space. This means your group could experience an “Escape Break” that lasts for 15 minutes. Or, if you have more than 200 participants, they can all experience an Escape activity together. They don’t need to be broken into small group.
- Company Trivia Challenges– not Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, but a series of interactive competitions that rely on company or meeting information in order to win. The series may use familiar game concepts like Pictionary or Charades, but all require specific company knowledge. For example, in Company Pictionary– instead of telling people what to draw, we ask them a question. The two people doing the illustrating for their team—must know the answer and draw it—hoping to get their teammates to say the answer. Corporate Games offers a series of six different Company Challenges like this. Great variety, fun, and a learning event too.
- Don’t just paint. There are plenty of places where your group can go to paint already-illustrated canvases—and color them in. But that’s not very interactive nor is it really a team exercise. Consider a “Collaborative Team Painting” event instead. Starting with a blank canvas, each team of 3-4 people needs to actually paint part of a scene. This is usually a landscape or still-life. The canvases from all the teams will eventually be one large painting. There is an art lesson before each team decides what they will paint, how their canvas will match up with the team’s canvas next to theirs, and what color palette will be used. Team must talk to each other and coordinate their efforts in order to make this happen. Many unique twists include having teams leave their painting halfway through the activity—and finishing another team’s canvas.
- Make better use of a unique venue. If you are holding your meeting in an interesting place, like a ship (for example, USS Hornet Aircraft Carrier), an amusement park, an art gallery, or museum—do more than just walk around and look at it. Yes, there are tours and things to see, but many creative team building events can utilize the unique features of the venue. Scavenger hunt types of events are a great way to explore these venues, but you can also do Mysteries, Escape Events, Creative Movie Making and more. We’re only limited by our imagination.
Every so often (every 12- 18 months), it’s a good idea to assess how your team members feel about the team’s effectiveness. Here’s a very good survey to use in order to determine this. Copy and distribute or email to each member of your team. Ask them to complete it and send it back by a specific date. Remember that if you don’t ask, you will never really know.
All about team building—and more…
LISTEN—fully and with intent to understand. This is one of the hardest parts of communicating. Normally we listen only partially, because we are thinking about so many other things. Or—we listen with intent to respond. This also takes away from our ability to fully understand, because we are listening with a “filter”—formulating what you will say next—not concentrating on what is being said. Active listening seeks to comprehend and empathize with the speaker. This means trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and allow their point of view to be validated—no matter what your own personal feelings on the issue. It does not mean we will agree in the end, but hopefully that both sides will have an opportunity to share –without emotion—very different perspectives. In doing so, you may surprisingly find some commonalities.
This is not easy to do if the person you are listening to is combative and passionate. But allow them to speak without interruption and usually, the rhetoric and tone will eventually start to be less argumentative. After all, an argument takes two people. If you are listening without responding, there can be no argument. Here are some tools that can help:
- Think of the other person as your “friend” who is willing to share their ideas with you. You may not feel like it, but put on a pleasant face and smile. A wise person said that “Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the absence of physical (or emotional) aggression.” Conflict is actually something that can move us forward.
- Intermittently use understanding words. This will encourage the person to keep conversing. These are words like “ok” or “sure” or “I see.” Again—not combative, but demonstrating an effort to understand and empathize.
- If the other person does not ask for your point of view, don’t launch into a counterpoint speech. Instead, ask if you can share your view also. You might hear “There is really no point. We can’t change each other’s minds.” Then say, “But it would be good to talk and have the conversation. Non-communication is what gets us (and indeed the world) into trouble, because then we are just guessing and making up what someone else thinks.”
Watch for “Talk like Spock” in our next post.
Resolve to improve your communication skills and reap wonderful, positive results in personal and business relationships. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you.
The past year has uncovered unfortunate divisiveness in our country and even among friends and family. For some, it has gotten to the point that people who had good relationships just avoid conversation –or each other. Name calling, bullying and telling people they are wrong is counterproductive. Nasty tweets, yelling and fighting will solve nothing.
We are all Americans and want our country to succeed. We want our businesses to thrive and our personal relationships to be rewarding. We must talk to each other in order to move forward. And it all comes down to good communication skills.
Where do we start? First, learn to reach out without malice. This means asking for other people’s opinions and honestly wanting to hear them. There may certainly be some reluctance from others to share, but if people don’t think you are just waiting to pounce and bite their head off, they may start to open up. If someone just says “no” and puts up a wall, it is ok. But explain that you are interested in knowing what they think—and that is all. Don’t let a conversation escalate into something negative. Will cover some tips on how to do this in our next post. In the meantime, think about and practice “reaching out.”
This was in our newsletter a couple years ago, and people have asked us to share these fun ideas again. Happy Holidays!!!
You have the facility, the food and the drinks, and lots of people coming for fun. How can you make the holiday party more interesting, fun and memorable—without having to spend a lot of your time getting ideas and materials together? Here are some quick, easy ideas to get the party going…
- What’s My Hobby? Give each person a 3” x 5” index card, a pen and tape or a straight pin. Each person will write their name at the top and list their hobbies on the card –and pin or tape it on their shirt. This is a great way to break the ice and give people something to talk about during a cocktail party.
- Lego party—put a bunch of Legos or other building blocks on a large table. Ask people to help build a replica of your company logo.
- Theme/costume—it’s always fun to dress up, and costumes always make mingling more fun and spirited. Announce the theme when you send out the invitations. Ideas for themes: Middle Earth Holiday; Victorian Holiday; Scrooge; Ugly Christmas Sweater; Holiday Characters (Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, Elf, etc.)
- Cocktail Concoction- Have a contest for making an original Holiday Cocktail or Mocktail.
- “White Elephant” Gift Exchange- Have each person bring a wrapped “gift” they have never used and don’t need. The value of these should not be more than $25. Everyone draw a number from a hat. When a person’s number is called, they may pick a wrapped gift from the pile or “steal” a gift from someone who has already picked and unwrapped a gift. An item may only be taken 3 times, and you may not directly steal a gift back from someone who has just taken it.
- Toy Drive- Have people bring a new, unwrapped toy. Ask a representative from a local charity to come and give a short speech about how the toys will be distributed.
- Prizes for oddball things: “Most unusual earrings.” “Hat contest” “Most unique tie.” “Hairdo- both men’s and women’s” “Shoes-both men’s and women’s” “Best Holiday Manicure.” You should announce that there will be prizes for these categories BEFORE the party, so people will come dressed appropriately. Give everyone a ballot to determine the winners—or have a small committee who decides the winners.
- If you have a small group of about 20 or less, you can have a Bunko Tournament after dinner, or consider playing one of these fun team games: CatchPhrase, Outburst, Cranium, Pictionary. Make up your own Minute-to-Win-It challenges.
This was an interesting question posed to us recently. In this seating configuration, people cannot move except to stand up, sit down, and turn in place. However, you may have people seated in this fashion for a meeting, but need a quick energizer or two. Here are some great ideas that we formulated just for a group like this…
Ideas for Theater Seating Activities– This is a series of fun, energizing activities. Some are actual team competitions, others require the entire group to work together.
(Six) Team Competitions- The teams are denoted by crepe paper streamers that are draped between and on the back of the seats. The area is divided into six sections (imagine two rows of three squares). Each area represents one team.
Beach Volley – 15 minutes– Each team is given one small beach ball. At the signal to commence, music starts playing and the balls must be batted into the air towards another team. The volleying continues until the music stops, and no one knows when that will happen. However many balls are within a team area when the music stops, that team gets a negative point. In the second round, another beach ball is added to each area (total now of 12 beach balls). Once again, when the music starts, teams must attempt to keep any beach balls out of their own area. There is a third and fourth round. Each time, another beach ball is added to each team area. In the final round, there are 24 balls being batted around. In the end, the team with the fewest points is declared the winner.
Clues- 15 minutes– Each of the six teams is assigned with the name of an animal (horses, lions, giraffes, etc.). A series of questions will be presented on the screen. These are trivia questions – whose answers will be one of the animals. Simple example: It’s the name of the NFL team from Detroit. A: Lions. When the question comes up, the team with the correct animal must stand and in unison, make a sound or movement like the animal they represent. If they are the first to do so, they get a point. Here is the tough part—if anyone from your team stands up and your group is not the correct animal, then you get a negative point. Additionally, for some of the questions more than one animal is the correct answer. Example: Which animal can run faster than 20 mph? That might pertain to more than one team, but the team that stands first gets the point.
Shapes and Outlines- 15 minutes– In this fun activity, each team will be asked to form a shape given by the facilitator and also shown on the screen. Each of the six teams must decide who will need to stand in order to form the shape for their group—depending upon where each person is sitting and what the shape is. A simple example is a Circle. People on each team need to stand and form a perfect, solid circle. A point is given to the team that is able to accomplish this first. The shapes/outlines start easy and get more complex. Finally, the last shape is their company logo (if that lends itself to this exercise). If the logo does not, then it might be the company initials.
Full Group Activity
Balloon Drop- 5 minutes (a Minutes-to-Win-It Challenge)– Balloons are held in a net above the auditorium. There are six colors of balloons. Each of the six areas is assigned to one of the colors. When the balloons drop, everyone needs to bat them away or try to collect them—in order to collect all the balloons that are of just their color. The idea is to have all the balloons sorted into the six areas in less than 3 minutes. The group must all work together to get this accomplished. If they are successful, everyone earns a point—AND the team that got all its balloons collected first earns an extra point (only if the whole group was successful in doing this under 3 minutes).
Card Stunts- 15 minutes– This is a take-off on the college football card stunts you have seen on TV. This can be done as a team competition or as a whole group. Every seat can be preset with a list of the card stunts (or you can try to have people figure this out by themselves). The list would state which card the person in that seat should hold up for each of the stunts. You can have them spell out words or company symbols, etc. There should be a live feed camera trained on the audience. This will allow them to see the finished stunt—or it will allow them to see what they are doing and figure it out (if you are not going to provide a stunt list for each seat). Great fun to see them form the words and pictures on the big screen. Many different ways to orchestrate this.
You’re only limited by your imagination and the time it takes to organize any of these activities.
Technology has certainly changed the speed and the way we do business. We no longer have to wait for the mail to arrive –or even to receive a fax. Proposals and contracts are sent and signed electronically at dizzying speed. However, with all this time efficiency, common courtesy has suffered, because we don’t have to meet face to face. Anonymity and speed have undermined the need to build relationships. Whatever happened to just being courteous and “nice?”
There are many examples of a plain lack of common courtesy, but the number one irritation that nearly everyone has experienced at some point: you receive a phone call for information – this could be from a potential customer or a co-worker. They want it immediately. You rearrange your schedule so that you can get it done in the time requested. You follow-up to make sure the information was received. Then—you never hear from them again—even after several emails and phone calls. Nothing. It would be “nice” just to have them acknowledge or say “thanks, but no thanks.” There really isn’t an excuse. It takes seconds to email a short but “nice” reply.
Some think that in business you don’t have to be nice. But consider that all businesses are owned and operated by people, and we are all human. We all have feelings. If you treat someone poorly, what will happen the next time you need their help? Why gamble with thinking you will never see or need them again. It’s a small world. It does not take much to be courteous. If you’re a manager or team leader, set a good example for those who follow you: Do the right thing and be courteous in business as well as your personal life. You’ll never regret it.
Here’s a great event that has something for everyone. It:
- Provides a series of team challenges, not just a single competition. This keeps things moving quickly and keeps energy high.
- Has a variety of types of challenges—some that are more physical and some more mental. This increases the appeal, because there is “something for everyone.”
- Requires a high level of interaction and collaboration. They are true “team challenges”—not activities that rely heavily on the skills of a few.
Introducing: The Design & Engineering Olympics. It is a fun and engaging competition that is a series of three design and construction competitions. These range in complexity from simple to more complicated and also have varying deadlines.
In each contest, the teams are given the materials, tools, objectives and a deadline. With each subsequent contest, the challenge gets more difficult. Each competition is scored differently. This encourages each team to understand the measure of success, and plan accordingly.
For this 2.5- 3 hour event, there are three competitions that you would select from the following list:
- Quick Challenge (select 1)
- Marshmallow Shooter– each team must figure out how to construct a device that will shoot mini-marshmallows at least 30 feet—using PVC pipe.
- OR Rocket Launchers—each team needs to put together a simple Rocket Launcher (from a kit) and shoot off 3 rockets.
- OR The Ball Machine—each team needs to construct a pipeline of PVC pipe and connectors that are of varying diameters and curves—in order to create a tube through which 20 small balls will roll in the fastest time possible.
- Medium Challenge (select 1)
- The Tower—teams need to build a tower out of index cards and tape that is at least 20” in height. It must hold the weight of a full 20 oz. cup of water placed at the top of it.
- OR Marshmallow Catapult—built from cardboard, rubber bands, string and a pencil. Teams must be able to shoot marshmallows 30 feet.
- OR 3-2-1 Lift Off!– an exciting rocket building and launching event. The rockets are made out of light weight foam and cardboard tubing. The challenge is to create not only a great looking rocket, but to design one that will fly the highest.
- Complex Challenge (select 1)
- Walking on Eggs– each team must construct a pair of shoes that can walk on eggs. The eggs are placed in the sole of each shoe. After construction is completed, all teams must demonstrate that 4 people on their team can walk 30’ in the shoes without breaking the eggs—in a spirited relay race. Plenty of cheering!
- OR Mousetrap Cars—each team builds a model “car” powered by a mousetrap. They must adjust the variables on the car and figure out, by trial and error, how to make the car go the farthest. The testing and adjusting are a lot of fun. The car that can go the furthest wins.
- OR The Trebuchet– This is a weighted-arm, catapulting device that flings tennis balls at a cardboard “castle.” Each team must build and test its own trebuchet as well as its own cardboard castle. In the final competition, each team will shoot at a different team’s castle (drawn at random). They have a limited time to knock down the castle with their trebuchet skills.
In the end all team scores are tallied, and the team with the highest cumulative score is declared the winner. But everyone has a great time creating these entertaining objects—as they practice collaboration and teamwork. And that’s the point!
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for creating the biggest increase in government interest and participation that I have ever witnessed. If that was your goal in making America great, you have succeeded far beyond any expectations. I hope you will read this letter, because I do have some solutions for you along with my observations.
As an American citizen, a small business owner for over 25 years, and someone who teaches leadership and team building skills to corporate America, I felt especially compelled to write to you versus just my representatives (to whom I have also sent correspondence). In my business, we always advise people not to gossip and spread negative ideas about others behind their back, but to speak directly to those with whom you have issues. So I am writing you about my grave concerns about your honest desire to unite this country and whether you are even able to do it.
I’m one of the millions who did not vote for you, but I am hoping for your success. I am not a hardline Democrat, but a Centrist, who believes in the greatness of the United States and our system of checks and balances that insures “government by the people.” I was disheartened that my candidate did not win the election, but I believe in the office of the President of the United States, and that we should all give you a chance. My Republican friends assured me that all your posturing, bullying and tweeting was just campaign rhetoric, and that you would indeed be a different and very “presidential” person that we could be proud of. I have been waiting patiently for this person to appear. But so far, since January 20th, I have seen a reality TV personality treat the presidency just like his other TV show. This is what I have observed:
- A rush to reverse everything that the last administration painstakingly put into place—without any pause to understand any of the details. This is extremely reckless and juvenile– not presidential.
- The immediate ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, except for those where you do business. This ban caused chaos and fear nationwide. There was no plan, no explanation, no roll out. Those trying to follow your order were confused and not prepared at all. You claim that you needed to surprise people so we would not have a flood of immigrants before anything was in place. You further state that it was for our safety, which is your first priority. The terrorists who have staged attacks here did not come from any of those countries. Those involved in 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, who is not on the list. You were not considering the safety of people who had green cards and Visas, nor their American families. I don’t believe you are even aware of what it takes to get a Visa to visit the U.S. People apply; spend hundreds of dollars, wait years. Many are denied, but go through the process again and again, because their families are here. This executive order is not only against everything this country stands for, but it was poorly executed without any thought or plan. Again—not presidential.
- Your modus operandi seems to be strong-arming everyone and every entity to agree with you or face the wrath of your tweets, bullying and negative comments, ignoring, banishing or firing. Yes, this works on reality TV, but the real work of governing the United States is not to get ratings. You seem intent on monopolizing the headlines—no matter what. Is any press good press? Like a bull in a china shop, you bellow and thrash about when unimportant things like the number of people attending your inauguration are reported. Are you doing this as a diversion? This tactic takes the focus off of other important issues, which perhaps you are surreptitiously working on. Maybe you hope you can just sneak some things through without anyone noticing, because we are so caught up in these other tantrums, which are definitely not presidential.
- Your Cabinet selections are for the most part senseless. Why pick people who have no expertise in some of these areas –like Betsy DeVos or Ben Carson? It appears that it is so you can easily manipulate them. Because, of course, you will just fire them if they don’t follow your lead to the letter. Your other picks clearly demonstrate your intent to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, deregulate important safeguards for consumers, let big business have much freer rein, and along with your right hand man, Bannon, give discrimination a green light. You accused someone of “pay to play” during your campaign. Many of your cabinet picks seem to be just that as well.
- You appear to have a policy of isolationism. The time for that is long past. Everything, every issue is global. What we do affects every country. What other countries do affects us. You derided NATO as being obsolete and threatened to ignore our longstanding allies, then later reversed your position. This kind of behavior makes everyone uncertain. Is stoking fear your primary purpose? You keep bullying companies to bring manufacturing jobs back here. You talk about more taxes/tariffs on goods produced elsewhere. You certainly have not studied the total situation and do not have a grasp of the consequences of these actions. Automation has taken away more jobs than overseas factories. We cannot produce quality goods at competitive prices in many industries. If you impose taxes on things like autos made in Mexico, we Americans will be the ones to pay. Currently, what we get in dollar benefits from our trade with Mexico is nearly equal to what they receive from us. You make it sound very lopsided, and that is not true. We all depend upon each other—all over the world. It isn’t as black and white as you make everything out to be. But the fact that you took absolutely no time to study the situation or get advice from many sources—before making calls and decisions – is not presidential. You are acting like a Dictator.
- Your actions these first few weeks in office have been more divisive to this country than any president before you. The rallies, the marches, the protests… and yet you fail to hear your people. Instead you take a stand and make threats. A prime example is your threat to withhold federal funds from California. The State of California pays more to the federal government in taxes than the amount received back. Making idle threats does not endear you to Californians. In other instances, you are ignoring your own people; you are baiting them; you are inciting and inviting hate. What happened to your “promise” to unite the country? That should be at the top of your agenda. The fact that it is not is disturbing. You seem to be fueling fear, hatred and discontent: everything that drives the plot of a television show. “The Boardroom” is not the Oval Office. Not presidential at all.
- Making false statements. This is something that is very troublesome. As Commander in Chief, you should not be making claims that cannot be supported or can easily be proven wrong. As an example, your statement that many terrorist attacks go unreported or “under reported” –in order to shore up your claim that the media is against you: “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.” News organizations have reported extensively about terrorist attacks around the world, including the two in France mentioned. Neither you nor your spokesmen offered a single example of an attack that had gone unreported to support your accusation. This is a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the press that makes it seem like you are “grasping at straws.” This is just one of many instances in which you made quick, off-the cuff statements without any consideration for the truth. Your words do matter.
We are a nation populated and built by immigrants. Every success we enjoy is on the backs and sweat of immigrants. We are stronger if united. Your statements and plans serve far less than half of all Americans—and therefore undermine this unity. This can be substantiated.
It is impossible to please every single person, but it is possible to represent the majority of us on all issues. However, this means that the majority will not be the exact same group of people for every single thing. Just because you threw out a lot of campaign promises in your quest for the presidency, not every person wearing a red hat wanted every single thing you mentioned. And in fact, some Democrats were in favor of some of your ideas, though they did not have any details on how you expected to achieve them. The group of people that supports bringing jobs back is different from the group of people who supports repealing Obamacare, which is definitely not a majority. You cannot just assume that everyone who voted for you is totally in favor of every single campaign promise and that every campaign promise is backed by a majority of Americans. I guarantee that is not the case. Since your inauguration, you seem to be acting under that assumption—that you must fulfill every campaign promise immediately to keep your base cheering. The alarming rate at which you are signing orders is just raising more red flags about your ability as Commander in Chief.
You have time to change and become the president that I think you want to be—and the one our nation hopes for. Here is a short list for your consideration:
- Be open to critiques. Honestly, ask others who have worked with you how you can become a better leader; what are your strengths and weaknesses. Be clear that you are seeking their true opinions—not “oh, you are perfect.” Try to build upon the positive and work on the skills that you may be lacking.
- Do not make snap decisions—which you may regret later. When you have to reverse your decision, it just makes you look incompetent. Take time to get to know the people and the issues. Use the first months to assess everything. Talk to everyone. No one wants or expects you to turn everything upside down immediately. Doing so just creates wariness, insecurity and does nothing to build trust.
- Do not fail to reverse decisions that turn out to be wrong—just because you think that would be a sign of weakness to say you were wrong. It is worse to be wrong and not have the guts to admit it.
- Treat everyone with respect—and that includes people who do not agree with you or perhaps did not support putting you in a leadership position. Do not discredit or belittle those who challenge your ideas. The mark of a great leader is one who leads by example, works with others to achieve results, and ultimately turns naysayers into supporters –who will help. This takes time…
- Have patience. This may be one of the most difficult things to master and use effectively. Even if you believe you have the greatest solutions, if no one is following, supporting or listening, you’ll achieve very little results.
- Grow a thicker skin. As a leader, you will never please everyone. Those who oppose your ideas may not always communicate gracefully or well. Do not take it personally. It is not worth the time or effort and will only make you appear immature and vulnerable if you do.
- Show some humility and compassion. You consistently place yourself above everyone. You are human just like the rest of us. The time for honoring yourself will pass quickly enough. Your self-aggrandizement just makes people hope that time happens as soon as possible.
- Consult experts on the issues. There are people who know better than you, since they have studied for years and have expertise that you lack on a myriad of subjects. They are in the best positions to advise you and you should follow their lead.
- Don’t delete information that does not support your programs. A case in point is the information on Climate Change being stricken from the government website. This makes you look even more like a dictator and someone who ignores scientific, proven facts.
- Stop Tweeting. These reactive statements about anyone who appears to oppose you makes you look immature and does not help your image at all. Refrain from these knee-jerk reactions.
The world is watching. Most of your constituents will not take the time to offer suggestions to help you succeed. Yes, you will get “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” letters. Most of these will do you no good at all. I am appealing to you directly, which is the approach that we instill in all leadership classes.
President, Corporate Games Team Building
This letter was sent to The White House on 2/8/17