The Team Building Event That Almost Never Happened

Wisconsin, Winter*, Wednesday

What do those 3 words have in common besides all starting with a W?

“I’ll take ‘Reasons you can’t get a bowling lane’ for 500 Alex.”

*OK technically it is still fall but I was going for alteration.

It all started with an idea. Get the IT department together out of the office for an activity. It would be a way to get to know one another better as well form a more cohesive team. Bowling was suggested, a time and date were set, an email was sent, and the plans were made. Seamless, employee fun was on the docket and we were ready to rock and roll.

Slight problem, back to the original question and the 3-W words, no one thought about it being “bowling league” season. It was an innocent question “Do we have reservations?” After calling every single bowling alley from Kaukauna to Neenah and finding not a single open lane in the Valley.

Cut to this Monday when 4 members of the IT team and 2 guests took to the lanes (where we had a reservation) at the 10th Frame in Appleton. Splitting off into two teams, we began. The first game took on a player change as we lost the two guests but added two more employees around the 5th frame.

We all had our struggles keeping track of the crazy tango of changing lanes each turn, there were a few near misses with dropped balls and some of us, well me, had an almost magnetic attachment between ball and gutter – but everyone had a great time in spite of, or possibly because of these moments.

What does this have to do with team building you ask?

When I think of ‘team building’ events, I get a mental picture of people on a ropes course, role playing, or playing the “trust game”, events that corporations sign  employees up for a like-it-or-not participation enforcement. This was not only voluntary; it was the idea of the employees.

According to Paul Salzer:

“The bowling balls were different (representing each of our individuality). And yet these balls work together to perform a single task. The balls come together in the end (the ball return)”

A great quote Paul, but how is that affected by my getting 3 balls stuck in the pins over one turn?

“If you really must know…your experience with the balls is a prime example of what happens when a group of individuals fail to interact with one another on their project.  Each ball tried to do its own thing.  And for a while, it looked liked progress was being made.  But unfortunately, everything started to back up, and no progress could be made.  The gridlock was only fixed when someone stepped in and intervened.  In our particular example, someone needed to remove a pin that was blocking the balls from going back onto the ball return.  That person also set the balls on the return to make sure that everything was flowing again and that the balls did try to fight each other. This is much like a project leader.”

The bowling did bring us closer as a team that night. We supported each other, gave one another tips and advice, and enjoyed spending time with the others as a group. (I doubt that getting a high five for your 5th two-pin turn is seen often) At the end of the night each player was given an award, those were handed out today.

This evening was the first of what will become a monthly outing and with every one; our group will become more cohesive as a unit. No “trust game” needed.

Did anyone notice that blog was “team written”?



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1 Response to The Team Building Event That Almost Never Happened

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