Targeted Team Building for Tight Timeframes

Puzzle ChallengeWhen the objective is to deliver team building that leaves participants with real take-aways about business and working together effectively, it's not easy to find something that fits into a half day.

First Things First

It's often been said that "the activity is the excuse for the debriefing." Be sure to build the key elements for effective  team building into your design. 

  1. Opt for an Interactive Keynote (60 Minutes)
    An interactive keynote sets the context and identify key take-aways. It works well over coffee and dessert during lunch if you're tight on time. (No time lost waiting for latecomers.)
  2. Instructions, Questions and Practice (30 Minutes)
    Provide clear instructions and give the teams time to digest them. Ten or 15 minutes is enough. If the group is analytical, they will definitely need time to digest the information, reflect, confer, ask clarifying questions and confirm understanding before diving in.
  3. Interactive exercise, simulation or game. (2 Hours)
    Two hours is tight but, if the timeframe is short and you want the group to walk away with insights or tools that are of real value, it's pretty well all you have. Assign a team leader plus an observer to record team dynamics to each team. Provide an observation sheet. It is a good idea to pre-brief the team leaders and observers.
  4. Debriefing Preparation (15 Minutes)
    Give the teams a few really targeted and specific questions. You'll have time for 2 questions at the most, so, if you have 6 questions and 6 teams, give the same questions to 2 teams to maximize your time.
  5. Break (15 Minutes)
    Always do the debriefing prep. questions before the break or you will lose time waiting for stragglers to return.
  6. Debriefing (30 Minutes)
  7. Buffer (15 Minutes)
    It's always a good idea to build in a "margin for error" in case you get behind at some point.
  8. Wrap-up. (15 Minutes)
    Keep it short, targeted and focused.

Total: 5 Hours

What simulations, games and activities can fit comfortably into 2 hours?

Today, we'll look at a couple of ideas. On Monday, we'll share 7 more.

Puzzle Challenges

Get experienced puzzlers to pre-sort flat or 3-D puzzle pieces to make the challenge fit into 2 hours.

Cooking Team Building:

Cooking Team Building

Keep the dishes and recipes simple. Organize all utensils, pre-measure all ingredients in advance to save time.

  • Afternoon Tea: Cooking time will be minimal.
  • Gourmet Global: In a new twist on cooking team building that is ideal for multi-cultural teams, team leaders pick a flag out of a chef's hat. Each team gets the same protein (e.g. chicken) but the seasoning and sides reflect each country.
  • Lunch Boxes or Bento Boxes for Charity

Board Games:

In How to Learn About Wall Street While Having Fun, we previously suggested:

  • The Accounting Game
  • Cash Flow Game
    Another 30 minutes of play would be ideal but, if the boards are set up and the teams organized in advance, and the 30 minutes of instructions includes a couple of practice rounds, Cash Flow Game can fit into 2 hours. To give some team members a chance to practice coaching and leadership skills while having fun, assign a team leader who already knows how to play the game and a banker to help things go smoothly to each team. 

Another board game that will fit into a tight timeframe is:

  • Ledger Mania
    A board game that teaches financial principles.

Shorter timeframes are a reality and unlikely to disappear any time soon. The most important pitfall to avoid is don't try to cramp too much into half a day. Set realistic objectives and focus on a few achievable take-aways.

Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International, Team Building

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