Take the Pledge

If you have worked for a company of even modest size you will have been subjected to a “team building exercise,” which I’ve found to be about as unnatural for actual team building as setting up a group to “do innovation” is. Yet companies, especially large ones, insist on doing both.

Read Paul’s essay, it’s a good one for a number of reasons but the one thing I kept thinking is that I pledge now that I will never subject anyone to a team building exercise.

A few days ago I was sitting in a cafe in Palo Alto and a group of programmers came in on some kind of scavenger hunt. It was obviously one of those corporate “team-building” exercises.

[From You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss]

7 thoughts on Take the Pledge

  1. The best team building exercise I have seen for programmers is designing, building and shipping a great product.

  2. A friend works for a large university, and his team was recently told there would be a chilli supper one weekday afternoon for everyone. My friend doesn’t like chilli, so said he’d hold down the fort while everyone went off to eat. He was told that the chilli supper was “mandatory for morale purposes”. Scott Adams doesn’t need to make stuff up with management like that.

  3. Jeff, weren’t we team building every night we ended up at the bar?

    In all seriousness though, team building happens in and of itself and can’t be forced. Simply by labeling something team building, you’ve already failed at it.

  4. Tough, hard work in a well organized group with a clear, attainable objective builds morale faster than anything you can imagine. Anything else is just fluff.

    Sam pretty much said it.

  5. Really interesting paper by Paul. Having worked in both big and small organizations, I can agree and identify with most of his points.

    However, not sure I agree with an out-and-out removal of team building exercises from company diet. Perhaps you don’t need to spend thousands to go and do a ropes course. But team building exercises are sometimes great ways to build continuity between people who are just meeting or to tether the far-away branches in a big corporate tree to use Paul’s metaphor.

    Isn’t going out to the pub and getting to know each other personally team building? What about more organized get together sessions after work hours whether it be foozball, volleyball or any other interaction. Theses types of personal relationships drive productivity in the workplace.

    Whether you need a “corporate” outing for force it is a completely different problem altogether.

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