Working Responsively

I’m sometimes asked to help out with team building activities. When I first think of team building – I often experience vaguely naff ideas floating into my head. Images of groups high fiving each other, doing trust falls, building bridges out of drinking straws – that kind of thing. These thoughts may be a little unfair but they are drawn from years of experience of turning up at team building events and having something done to you. It can be a tricky thing to overcome.

When I work with groups I like to ask people questions which help establish the mood and tone of our work together, as well as what expectations/needs/requirements folk have, from the project, from themselves, each other, and me. This practice helps us get closer to working coactively (doing things with each other) rather than coercively (doing things to each other).

Recently it was my pleasure to spend time with a firm of accountants who wanted to explore how they could use art to enhance their work. Among other interesting things, when we met they expressed a need for spontaneity and a requirement to create art for their office. Neither of these have surfaced in previous sessions – the responses are often much more ‘work’ related.

Here are a couple of examples of how people responded to their invitations to be spontaneous and to create some art for the office. To meet the need for spontaneity we used a basic printing technique to give us unpredictable results.

Art for the Office 1 Art for the Office 2

There is a real sense of adventure, of experimentation in these pictures.

After the session I spoke with the owner of the firm and he reflected positively that by working together, we had overcome that sense of coercion. He also shared that he appreciated me not deferring to him as the leader in the room – but instead encouraging a sense of leadership to ebb and flow to where and to whom it was best suited at the time. What a lovely thing to notice. Even though I’ve been using art as a lens through which to help people explore work for several years now, I’m still learning and being motivated by the benefits people experience when working like this.

Let The Games Begin

It’s no secret that #TeamGB are currently rocking the Olympics, and folks are using that success to post a rash of ‘Olympics and work’ stuff. Some examples I’ve seen include, ‘Follow Jessica Ennis’ seven Heptathlon steps to payroll management paradise’, ‘Give your team double barreled names and a horse and watch them showjump to excellence’, and my personal fave,  ‘Grow sideburns like Bradley Wiggins and time trial your way to promotion in less than a month’. But don’t worry, for though this be a post about gaming and work, it has nothing to do with The Olympics.

I’ve teamed up with the good people at Trainer’s Kitbag to facilitate and deliver their products, and in conjunction with David Goddin we’re running the second open day for The Property Trading Game, in London on September 12th. Based on the classic board game of property trading, rent and chance, our Property Trading Game is different in that the participants compete around the city to see who will get the most points.

The game is great for challenging your understanding of how teams work, and it’s also been used for Leadership Development and Resilience Development. Lots of people have played the game and found it useful and enjoyable, and that’s a pretty powerful combination. So if you would like to give the game a try and see how well it could work for your teams, you can click here and grab your ticket to the open day for £350. I hope you can join us.

photo credit