Not Your Average Team-Building Model
Most of us have been through team building training exercises and know that they usually consist of a physical activity that is meant to get a team to work together to accomplish a common goal. My experience has been that some people feel left out, one or two people end up doing all the work, and when it’s over you don’t feel any more connected as a team then when you started. This is where an Experiential Learning Day is different.
The Experiential Learning Day is:
- About problem-solving as a team
- About giving everyone a chance to contribute
- About risk taking
- About communication
- Not about winners and losers
- As much about what you get wrong as what you get right
- About learning lessons that you can actually use the next time you work with the team
What Makes a Successful Team
Collaboration, agility and communication are the building blocks of a successful team. If your team building training exercise doesn’t remind you how important these skills are AND teach you new, better ways of collaborating, communicating and problem-solving, it’s just a nice way to connect with your team.
What sets the Experiential Learning Day apart is the focus on simulating real life mission planning where information is dispersed, diverse teams are important and the job has to get done in a complex environment.
Unlike the traditional team-building model, an Experiential Learning Day teaches you practical skills that you can use immediately. Through mission planning your team will learn to
- utilize the resources and skills that each team member brings to the table.
- overcome mission plan killers, like Task Saturation.
- Use a nameless, rankless Debrief that will help open the lines of communication between team members to help flawlessly execute future missions.
Experience What a Fighter Pilot Goes Through When Planning a Mission: About the Afterburner Teambuilding Day
It’s day one of your annual sales meeting, you are finishing up breakfast, suddenly a group of fighter pilots charge in with air raid sirens and rush you out the door to the main meeting room. Once you are in your seat, you are briefed on the six steps to mission planning and are put on a team to plan and execute a mission to defeat your enemy. Now it’s time to get work, you have one hour to plan your mission to take down the enemy. Once in your mission room, each team member is given a role and a checklist. Each role provides different information and resources that will help complete the mission, it’s your team’s job to use the information and resources wisely.
But just like the workplace, there are distractions and derailments. In the middle of planning, air raid sirens go off and everyone is instructed to take cover. Just as you were starting to make progress, your planning has been interrupted and just like the daily interruptions in the workplace, you must work through them to complete your plan on time. After the raid is over your team is informed of the damage done. You lost resources but you must continue.
When planning is complete, you give your plan to your instructor for evaluation. During this time, all teams will learn more about how
Debriefing Like a Fighter Pilot
After the mission evaluation is complete, your instructor will tell you the outcome of your mission and your team leader also called the Ace, will conduct a nameless, rankless Debrief.
This is where the magic happens. During this time, the instructor will walk your team through a breakdown of the mission using the S.T.E.A.L.T.H debrief process. The Ace starts with inside criticism of what they thought they could have done better and then gives outside criticism of the entire mission. The rest of the team members get a chance to discuss what they did right and what they could have done better, where the teamwork broke down, and how they could have used their available resources and teammate’s information to get a better result — lessons learned that will improve future mission execution.
The Debrief is a great tool for you to take away and practice for your own missions. It sheds light on and helps you learn from costly mistakes, determine root causes and improve performance.
A Unique Approach
Team-building exercises are a great way to bring a disjointed group together or to strengthen an already cohesive team. What’s unique about an Experiential Learning Day is that it sends you home with skills and tools you can apply immediately in your everyday work and personal life.