Not Your Father’s Team Building Experience

Everyone remembers the Buick commercial that said, “This isn’t your fathers Buick.” Well, I am paraphrasing, but today’s team building is more experiential, hands-on, fulfilling, a take-away feeling, and educational. All of these descriptors of today’s executive or employee team building cannot be realized unless everyone starts from an equal starting point.

So, I want to explore some unique experiences that can come from a Wine Country team building meeting. These will give everyone an equal footing to start the experience. Of course there are the traditional venues such as: golf outing and activities held in the hotel meeting room.

Experiential team building is a personal breakthrough moment that helps your relationships within a team. Let’s look at an example: How many times have we heard someone say they are tired of the same-old-same old thing? Or, remember those line drawing sketches in team building exercises when the facilitator asks who sees an old lady and who sees the young lady in a drawing? Point being, not all team building must be group interaction; sometimes it can be a group accomplishment through individuals’ tasks.

Let me present some experiential team building exercises that are out of the ordinary.

Painting Exercise

One out-of-the-ordinary team building exercise can be “a painting task”! This is a dynamic way of pointing out the many ways to view things a person observes. Imagine for a moment, 6 individuals (team members) task with painting a landscape they see before them. With the help of a professional painter, they will see things never noticed as a novice: the colors, light, reflections, and details unnoticed before. This is a team building exercise that will show members of the team they need to look at tasks with more depth; look at situations as a whole and not superficially. It would be expected that people undertaking this task would be more analytical in their interpersonal skills. Said another way; what you see at first, relative to a business task or practice, may not lead to a proper conclusion. A professional painter can direct the participants to realize this.

Thinking outside the box requires a large dose of creativity. Team building, through an art exercise, will focus managers on the value of creativity and how to reacquire it. “The muscle of creativity stops functioning at a high level at about age 10, when the left brain comes on strong and leaves the right brain in the dust, says Kay Carlson a Napa artist. Remember, Tony Bennett took up painting at age 60 and credits that with causing his creative juices to flow.

Barrel Making-Cooperage

An old profession that is alive and well today is barrel making. The genesis of this team building exercise is answering the question: Can 2 people make a wine barrel that will be water tight? Don’t say it is easy until you try it. In a real cooperage company one person builds the 60 gallon barrel singlehandedly. Even with a team of 2 intelligent executives it is nearly impossible.

The 2 person team starts with the 4 to 6 hoops, 36 staves, 2 barrel heads, and a mallet; all lying in a pile before them and then the fun begins. The ultimate goal is working together to construct a water tight barrel that is ready for delivery to a winery. This team building task is not about speed it is about achieving the goal-a water tight wine barrel. This must be achieved through co-ordination, task assignment, visualization and technique.

Panning for Gold

This is a team building exercise that is designed to focus on understanding a process and fitting the right people to the task. The process is about: planning, communicating, assessing skill sets, self development and having a willingness to tolerate exploration/stepping out. In the end, a team leader often knows what they are after but fail to effectively plan for finding it (whatever ‘it’ may be). Not knowing where the gold is, you must plan for finding it.

The guide/geologist is a great resource to get the exercise started. First the teams must get the knowledge from the geologist and combine that with the tools that are provided to get the task accomplished. A photographer will document the exercise for each participant.

Culinary Experience

With the help of Napa or Sonoma chef’s and souse chef’s teams will set about planning and pairing a meal course paired with a wine. The ingredients are provided according to plan and each of them prepare their part of a complete meal. The chef is there to provide assistance.

After the meal is prepared the chef’s assistants will serve the meal with the wine and everyone will experience the fruits of each teams efforts. The chef will critique the meal; from planning to completion and how each team worked together to bring it together.