The group of sixty engineers entered room looking around to see what was in store for the afternoon. Having just completed a morning of intense meetings outlining the coming fiscal year goals and expectations, they were in the mood for something fun.
The sounds of space-age music fill the air, as the screen presents a stunning display of the intergalactic landscape.
“You have just boarded the Intergalactic Space Cruiser,” announces the facilitator. “Take your seat and put on your caps. We’ve got an adventure ahead of us.”
Over the next three hours, the sixty team members split into ten teams were about to work feverishly through a myriad of strategies to accomplish their daily tactical goals, all the while, keeping in an eye on their strategic objective.
The facilitator informs the group that the Space Cruiser has just taken off for a distant planet where we have learned that the planet’s inhabitants are planning mischief within our own galaxy. The objective is to dismantle the aliens’ ability to communicate with each other by dismantling a series of communication relay stations. The mission will take twenty “days” of approximately five minutes per day. Some days, however, seem a lot shorter than others, especially if the teams do not plan well…but that’s just how it is in deep space.
Each team of six participants is comprised of a Team Leader, Operations Specialists, Logistics Coordinator, Communications Officer, Security Manager, and a Mission Advisor. Each role has important responsibilities that play out throughout the activity.
There are twelve missions to choose from that are divided into five categories, including: Reconnaissance, Sabotage, and Tactical Support.
Perhaps a team will choose to Destroy Grid mines, Rescue Captives, or Map the Planet. Each mission carries a price in resources and time.
Here’s what happened:
As teams progress through the missions, teamwork, communication, resource allocation and strategy need to be balanced in order to achieve success. For the participants, the free wheeling, fast-paced atmosphere accelerates with each passing “day.” By Day 10, teams begin forging tentative alliances with other teams and they start to realize that they cannot be successful if they act as separate units and begin to think and work as one cohesive group.
In one interaction, a Communications Specialist approached another team and offered, “We will provide tactical support to assist you on Day 12 in exchange for your help on Day 15 and 6 Air Tanks.”
“Can’t do that,” the other team replied, “We’re already providing support to another team on Day 15. How about we help you on Day 16?”
As Days 17 and 18 passed by, some teams realized that achieving mission success required critical tactical assistance to and from other teams. Other teams, however, remained highly competitive and chose to forge ahead alone.
By Day 20, however, the whole group grasped that if one team failed, the entire unified strategic objective would also fail. Cohesive and aligned, each team went out of their way to ensure the success of the other. The galaxy was saved.
Following the activity, the debrief took some interesting turns. “How did trust play out in this activity?” asked the facilitator.
“At the beginning of the exercise, another team promised us support and then reneged! They broke their word!” replied a member of one team.
“Nonsense,” the other team replied, as the group heckled them jovially, “We were merely negotiating and got a better deal from someone else.”
Everyone laughed again.
“I’m just glad that teams competing for scarce resources at the expense of other teams only happens here,” added the facilitator with a smile. “It’s not like back at the office you have departments vying for influence and resources at the expense of other departments right?”
A participant yelled out, “That never happens…”
Head nods and knowing smiles filled the room. And so began the conversation.
The team discussed the importance of teamwork and how sometimes, they break into silos. The addressed the power of effective communication and highlighted ways to improve communication back in the workplace.
The energy from all involved remained high throughout the afternoon from mission launch to talking about what happened afterwards. In the end, every team “won” because the collective mission was accomplished. Teamwork saved the day and a great time was had by all.