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How to Design and Build a Team Building Activity

Published December 2017

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As a boutique events company we pride ourselves in the quality of our team building activities. Most companies want to see some sort of tangible benefit following an event or conference. Therefore, it’s essential that any team challenge is designed in a way to help employers to get the most from their teams. By focusing on key skills like problem solving, creativity and cooperation, we’re able to improve team dynamics and help boost performance long term.

However, to ensure teams are enthusiastic about taking part, the look of an activity is almost as important as its function. There’s nothing worse from an organiser’s point of view than booking the hotel, arranging the conferencing facilities, coordinating their colleagues ….only to find that the activity provider has prepared a rather disappointing selection of activities! Straight away the whole day is off to a bad start.

First impressions are vital. We’ve found from experience that if an activity looks impressive, groups are much more likely to take part with enthusiasm and remain engaged throughout the day. So how do our activities look so much better than the others? Here’s a run through of the process we use when adding to our collection of great team building activities:

Step 1 – Inspiration

It might sound a bit cheesy but all our activities have been inspired by something: a board game, a TV show or even a visit to a medieval castle (check out our blog article on event inspiration). We can take a simple idea to the drawing board and then as part of our design process develop it into something totally unique that will ultimately wow our clients.

Our Cryptex Challenge, for example, was inspired by Dan Brown’s best seller ‘The Da Vinci Code’. We wanted to think of a team challenge that would bring the mystery of codes and puzzles into our stunning historic castle and cathedral venues. Knowing what the theme was and where it was likely to be used we moved onto the design stage, looking to how we could bring this concept to life.

Step 2 – Design

Once we have an idea we need to clarify how the event will work and what we need to build to achieve it. We ask ourselves questions like, how long should it take, how many people will be doing it, and what will it look like? Once the practical considerations are dealt with we spend a great deal of time deciding how we can make it look it’s best, so that the first impression is a good one.

When we designed Chain Reaction, we realised that in order to achieve the wow factor we wanted, the activity would have to be run along a series of platforms. Varying the heights of these bases would increase the difficulty and add to the challenge. Having the platforms professionally cut into beautiful shapes and towers would make them look visually appealing. Finally, a professional paint job would set them apart.

Step 3 – Build

There aren’t many places that sell team building activities. There are a few school supplies websites where you can purchase garden games or sports equipment (which is perhaps why so many events companies offer an ‘old fashioned sports day event’). However, options are limited so unless you build your own challenges, your activities will always look rather basic.

It’s fair to say that the DIY skills of our staff ranges from poor to dangerous. For this reason we have a number of highly skilled tradesmen who work with us on new projects. We’ll meet at the workshop and run through the design, here changes can be made if required and the dimensions confirmed. The cost of using professionals is much higher than building things yourself or buying off the shelf, but the end results speak for themselves.

Time is also important in the building stages; if a job is rushed then the quality will always suffer. Over the years we have used joiners, painters, electricians and even metal fabricators to get the best equipment possible.

Step 4 – Testing

Before any paying clients try an activity it has to be fully tested to see if there are any faults or changes that need making. However, testing an activity designed for a minimum group size of anywhere from 10-30 people can prove tricky. Fortunately, we work closely with a large number of hotels across the country. Many of these venues are only too happy to be our guinea pigs for the day. Their staff can enjoy the new experience and provide valuable feedback on what they liked and any changes that might need making in the future.

Designing and building unique and exciting team building activities to be proud of is not easy. It takes time, thought, money and patience. As a result there are probably more bad than good activity providers out there. Many events companies have invested heavily in marketing but have failed to apply the same amount of thought and attention to their activities. Others choose to offer an enormous selection of activities, none of which have been executed particularly well.

We’ve taken a different approach. Whist we have a smaller selection of activities than some of our competitors, we believe that by doing fewer activities well rather than many poorly our customers ultimately have a better experience. When you get it right and see the excited looks on peoples faces when they see them for the first time – it’s all worth it. 

If we’ve inspired you to organise an event for your team, or you fancy trying one of the challenges mentioned in this article, please get in touch. We’ve love to help you plan an event to remember.

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