Archive for February, 2009

UK Wide Team Building Company

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

For a long time, we’ve kind of hidden a bit of our light under a bushel.  Once upon a time we were based in just the one location – our Head Office in Tarporley, Cheshire.  For quite a few years now we have operated from 3 main locations, delivering team building all over the UK and internationally too.  We long ago invested in state of the art technology to bind our locations together with a single Wide Area Network and the latest VoIP telephony helping us deliver a single, focused service to our clients wherever they may be.  Yet we have only shown on our website our Head Office address.

We’ve made the decision to stop hiding our light.  Our “Contact Us” page now shows our three main premises, adding the details of our Sales and Client Service Centre in Nottingham (where I am based) and our central Operations Centre in the West Midlands (headed by Paul) to our Head Office details.  It also shows the spread of places that we have recently worked at – many of which we return to time and time again.  When we get good service somewhere, we like to return!

We also have a number of our team members who work from home.  The majority of them are based in and around the South East and London in particular, connecting to our Wide Area Network via the wonders of broadband.  So we really do have excellent coverage all over the UK.

And now, I hope, we look like we do too.

Nikki

New Team Building Product Development

Monday, February 16th, 2009

We’re all excited here.  We will soon be ready to launch our latest addition to our team building portfolio.  “Project X” is still under wraps, but will be ready to launch by the end of March.  And, no – that will not be its name.  We don’t want to spoil the full impact.  So I won’t be giving any details here just yet either.  Sorry!

What I can do, however, is to give you a feel for the development process and convey a sense of the excitement that we have when we are close to releasing a new activity.  Without exception, all of our activities mix participant enjoyment with genuine team learning for those clients who want both (some only want the fun!).  This means that during our entire new product development process, we have to concentrate on delivering both.  By the time we are this close to the launch of a new offering, we are in the testing phase.  We run the event for ourselves – usually in small groups at a time to increase the number of test runs we are able to do.  Although every member of the team has input to product development, each project is assigned to just 2 or 3 people for its early stages.  This allows the rest of the team to be our first “guinea pigs” – and that is where we are now with “Project X”.  I am one of the developers of this activity, and as much as I enjoy being a guinea pig, I enjoy more seeing the delight on colleagues’ faces the first time a new activity runs in earnest.  Everyone then gets the chance to help us improve it for the next group.  Once we have worked our way through several internal groups, improving it all the while, we take it outside by running it for family and friends.  Finally, once we are happy that it does precisely what we want it to, we launch it properly and make it available for clients.

Depending on the activity characteristics, our product development process can take anywhere between 3 months and, believe it nor not, 3 years.  For example, MiniTreasure took just 3 months to create, test, refine and deploy while Liberation was in development for 3 years to reach the stage where it was ready for release.  And if you have ever had the opportunity to partake in a Liberation event, you’ll know that it was worth every day!

So, from the end of March onwards, you’ll get the opportunity to find out if “Project X” measures up to our high standards.  If the initial reactions from my colleagues is anything to go by – and they always have been in the past – I’m delighted to report that we have another winner on our hands!

Nikki

Wii and the Art of Team Building

Monday, February 9th, 2009

That title would have been so much better if Nintendo had named their fabulously innovative console the “Zen”!  Anyway, I was playing on my Wii at the weekend.  The Mariokart game to be precise.  For those of you who have a Wii but do not have this game – get it!  For those of you who do not have a Wii but have seen the advert on TV – what are you waiting for?  You’re missing out on some great fun!  For those of you who haven’t even seen the adverts, well, I can’t help you.  You’ll have no idea what I’m rambling on about, unless you follow the link above.

We got Mariokart Wii for Christmas and I’ve been steadily improving with each play of it.  I occasionally play it on my own, but more commonly with Barbara and, when the family visit, with various other family members.  It can cause problems, of course.  Especially when playing with my wife.  My argument of “what else was I supposed to do with the heat seeking shell missle?” has yet to receive a sympathetic hearing!  But this weekend I found the answer.  Not only to that question but also to the wider (yet strongly related) question of how best to keep my marriage intact without giving up on Mariokart Wii!

It’s called “Team Mode”.  When playing with two or more people, in setting up the game you can choose to be on the same team.  In total within each of the races there are 12 racers involved and the Wii controls all those not controlled by a real person.  It allows two teams, so with only two people playing, the Wii controls 4 other team members and the entire other team.  Team mode changed my approach to each race quite dramatically.  In this mode, the weapons you pick up along the way only hurt the other team’s racers.  So firstly, I could stop worrying about blowing up my wife!  But, more than that, I found myself driving and using my weapons very differently.  Previously, I was completely selfish.  Never mind the other racers, the object was to finish first at all costs.  Two or three races in on team mode, though, I picked up on the fact that I might be coming first but the team was losing overall.  I adapted to the new situation and started racing as a team player.  Now instead of blasting away to help my kart come first, I was holding back and trying to take out racers on the other team that were threatening my team members.  Instead of racing away as fast as possible, I was holding back to see the bigger picture and help my team mates as best I could.  I learned it was not about me coming first but about playing my part in helping the team come first.  And it worked – we started winning!

I can’t speak on behalf of my computerised team mates (though they looked happy enough!), but my real one really appreciates the difference in the game play and enjoys playing to our now joint direction.

Usually, at this point, my blog entry turns to helping the reader see the parallel to his or her own workplace.  I’m guessing this time you can work it out for yourself!  I also tend to gently hint that our team building activities might be good options to consider as and when the time comes.  Oh look, I have here too…

Alan

2009’s First Team Building Event of the Month

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

My thanks to Alan for keeping you up to date on our events of the month in recent blog entries, but it is high time I took back the reigns and the first one for a new year is a good reason for me to do so.  That said, we have something of a split decision this month.  A brilliant afternoon’s worth of Cube gets my vote but we ran a small Romanbar that I didn’t attend that my colleagues who were there insist just pipped it for them.

Mine first – the Cube event.  Held in the third week of January in Ascot, we were back at the fabulous Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa – fabulous because the service has always been great whenever we have been there.  Anyway, on with the event.  It was an unusually small Cube event for us – just 70 or so people – but boy did they get into it.  Noise-wise, it would have been easy to mistake them for a group 5 times that size.  Excellent!  We added a few new prize cube tasks in for the first time and it was particularly pleasing to see these going down well with the participants and our team alike.  Their Cube itself was beautiful, the professional event support team the client used were superb – just an all round brilliant event.

The Romanbar event, held in Watford, had Nikki and Steve from our team and just 7 people from our client’s team.  It was a day event and we know from experience small groups (our smallest was just 3 people) can tend to be a little quieter if only because there are fewer there to make a noise.  Well, they tell me that this group proved us wrong!  They were fantastic from the moment someone said “Oh no! There isn’t Karaoke is there?” to being one of our most regular performers on it!  Everyone noticed that there were certain members of the team who just couldn’t put down our flair bottles whatever else they were doing at the time!  The whole group really got into everything, tried all that we could throw at them and even had a whole group song at the end!  Nikki had the pleasure of videoing that song.  Having seen it myself, I have to say that even though it wasn’t always in tune, they all threw themselves into it and it really showed what tremendous team spirit they went away with.

So, two groups of quite different sizes that both punched well above their weight noise-wise.  Excellent team building!

Paul