why do team building activities usually involve games?
activities are becoming increasingly popular with organizations in
singapore. organizations are paying sums of money to consultants to
get their staff out of the office to play games with them. so why
play games during professional teambuilding activities? will these
teambuilding games ultimately benefit the staff or the company?
are the most valuable
assets of any organization. people - humans - have been created with
the capacity to achieve beyond boundaries, but, the catch is that
not everyone comes close to unleashing their latent potential. why
so, you may ask?
mentoring and support is essential for a person to realize his potential.
each individual’s ability to learn and change, and to subsequently
put more energy into their work, very much stems from how they feel
about themselves. an environment where people feel valued and capable
is an environment that fosters growth - and is poised for success.
intent on success should be mindful about grooming leaders, nurturing
individuals and teambuilding among individuals. every individual must
be empowered with skills that would directly influence their job scope,
as well as skills that build camaraderie across job scopes.
book 'Understanding How People Learn', author David G Reay explains
that learning is in fact a natural phenomenon - something which all
animals do to a greater or lesser extent, particularly during their
maturing period, but also throughout adulthood.
consciously or unconsciously, we are learning new things all the time,
be it superficial - like learning it's hot today - or profound - like
learning what it means to fall in love!
wanting to learn is a natural state of affairs. knowing how to do
something is associated with success; not knowing is associated with
failure - and no sane person wants to be a failure.
related to doing things - 'experiential learning'
learning through theory is an acquired skill but experiential learning
is a natural skill. take the example of a child trying to force objects
into a box with cut-outs of different shapes in the quest to understand
spatial relationships. the child makes attempts to match shapes until
he understands how it works and successfully completes his 'game'.
it is only when you can do something can you actually claim to understand
how it is done.
now that we
know experiential learning is a natural process, how is it that
some people just don't learn? there are several barriers to experiential
· lack of motivation
· unsuitable work environment
· inappropriate subject matter
· past experiences
· self image
· inadequate study skills
· poor memory
any combination of the above factors will hinder the experiential
learning process and cause resistance to learning.
ingenious way to overcome these barriers is to introduce and encourage
experiential learning through play - the playing of games.
games will help us remember
that we remember well when enjoying ourselves. in her book 'The Power
of Mindful Learning', Ellen J Langer encourages introducing learning
materials through play. the rationale behind it is that people seek
novelty in play and have no difficulty paying attention in those situations,
because when something is novel, we notice different things about
it. in playing games, players look more closely at all aspects of
the situation to figure out how to win - to win/overcome is a strong
motivating factor. moreover, when playing games, people are relaxed and are
therefore less self-conscious and less conscious of past experiences.
defences are also down in an informal setting, assuring low or little
resistance to the intended learning values.
also, playing games does not require comprehensive study
skills or extensive use of memory - at least not for the teambuilding
games developed at änergy.
thus, anyone in an organization can participate, regardless of educational
qualifications, and everyone can benefit from the intended learning
points during the teambuilding session.
"World Class Training", Kaye Thorne and Alex Machray, state
that, "most memorable learning experiences(experiential learning)
usually take place in a special environment". the correct choice
of location and layout are vital to encourage experiential learning.
most of our teambuilding games require out-of-the-norm settings, away
from the rigid work stations, structured boardroom tables or classroom/theatre-style
arrangements. the different settings would prove to be a refreshing
and certainly more interesting change for people. during teambuilding,
the informal atmosphere also sets the stage for people to subconsciously
reveal traits otherwise concealed during formal settings.
by the National Training Laboratory (USA) has also proven that learning
by doing (experiential learning) proves to be most effective, next
to personal coaching.
“If we find ways of enjoying our work –
blurring the lines between work and play – the gains will be
greater.” – Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology, Harvard
gratification from playing games during teambuilding is the bonds
that will be established within teams. when team members strive together
to achieve something, the spirit of comradeship is inculcated, and
it lingers even after the event. through having fun together, team
members also gain more in-depth understanding of each other in a non-threatening
environment. this would eventually help in managing differences in
personality styles, and adds to the greater cohesiveness within an
What more can
we say? in a nutshell, experiential learning through teambuilding
games would prove to be more productive, effective, memorable and
thus, more worthwhile!
by a wise man of the old, “What I hear, I forget; what I see,
I remember; but what I do, I understand." – Confucius 451
related team building
and team bonding
of team building
intelligence and team building
approach to team building activities
note: the article
above was first published on 11 March, 2004, in The Straits Times
Recruit Section. the article was contributed by Alvin Quah, a certified
behavioral analyst(in business consulting perspectives), who is registered
with the Institute for The Motivational Living, Inc, USA. He can be
contacted through the website: www.anergyfunengineers.com