Mixing business with pleasure can be a tricky task. But, if done right, it can strengthen the ties that bind your creative team. In a recent survey by The Creative Group, 400 U.S. advertising and marketing executives were asked to share the most unusual team-building activity they’ve ever participated in. Some of the wackier responses included psychic readings, a dance-off, indoor surfing and a contest to see who could hop on one foot the longest.
Trust falls are so 1980s, not to mention potentially dangerous if someone ends up getting dropped. Offsite events, like en masse mountain climbing or a weeklong retreat in the desert, are cool but potentially expensive. And forming a human knot or passing an orange using just your neck may require more body contact than professionals are comfortable with.
Here are some quick creative team-building exercises that will boost morale, incite laughter (and possibly a few groans), spark creativity and improve collaboration. These four games take under an hour each, cost practically nothing and can be played out in a staff meeting or at a more relaxed event like an office celebration.
1. Human machine charades. This exercise teaches colleagues how to literally work together. Draw up a list of machinery: lawn mower, vacuum, copier, scanner, 3D printer, espresso maker, etc. Divide people into small groups and assign them a machine to simulate, complete with moving parts and sounds. One group presents while everyone else guesses. Vote for the team that did the best job.
2. Meet your match. Think of all the things that go together: bacon and eggs, milk and cookies, X-Acto knife and foam core, Florida and alligators, Beyoncé and Jay Z. Write each item separately on a piece of paper and tape it to participants’ backs. Staff must figure out who or what they are by walking around and asking yes-or-no questions. Once they’ve figured it out, they have to find their match.
3. Write a company song or rap. Have everyone count off and form groups of four or five. Each team has 10 minutes to come up with a jingle or short rap. The only rules are that it has to use the company name and be SFW (safe for work). Rhyming is strongly encouraged; bonus points can be awarded to those who dance. At the end of the 10 minutes, each team shares its song or rap.
4. Quick-change artists. This getting-to-know-you exercise is a great way to encourage concentration, memory and collaboration. Divide everyone into two lines that face each other. Each group studies the other for a minute, paying special attention to clothes, jewelry, ties, scarves, shoes, glasses – whatever can be exchanged quickly. Then the teams face away from each other and swap accessories. No peeking! At the sound of the bell, the two groups go back to their original positions and take turns naming all the changes.
When deciding which quick team-building exercises to do, be sure to choose ones that everyone can participate in – in other words, nothing too athletic, messy or that requires special skills. Keep activities positive, collaborative and fun. Now, let the games begin.
When we are asked to participate in a brainstorming session, we are being asked to put aside all of those tasks that are forefront on our minds and focus on creative thought. That transition is difficult and often requires a primer, a buffer that tells us “turn that off and turn this on.” That’s what the exercises in this book are for. Get it here.