Successful teamwork isn’t always so easy to come by. It has many factors that go into it, and conflicts frequently arise while performances often decline. It’s not always simple to find the root of the problem.
Experiential learning and team building exercises can help. What at first glance may seem to be an unsolvable problem might have a clear solution in the context of a simulation. Putting everyday habits into a simulation highlights the ways we act as a team. It creates a safe environment where skills can be measured in action without jeopardizing an important team project.
Experiential Learning with Games
“Jungle Escape” is a game that builds and revitalizes teams. It’s an eye-opening diagnostic tool that takes teamwork back to fundamentals. Something as simple as measuring planning time against implementation time can shed light on all aspects of a team’s dynamic.
Experiential learning centers around the participant and their active involvement in the learning process. This is what makes it such a valuable method of instruction. The key characteristics of experiential learning are that it includes full participant involvement, lessons are relevant to the participants, participants develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning, and the learning environment is adaptable to the participants’ needs. Information is thus able to be retained better.
The Game Objective
The following is the plot of the game: Stranded in a jungle after surviving an airplane crash, teams are challenged to build a helicopter to exact specifications using only toy parts, limited access to an assembled model, and teamwork. Starting with a planning phase, they discuss how to execute the project, and then they begin to work.
When the team believes they’ve properly built the aircraft, the facilitator checks the helicopter for accuracy and then records the amount of time dedicated to planning and construction. The winner is usually the team that spends the most time planning, and they are then able to complete the project the fastest. Following the activity, team members take part in a discussion about team dynamics, offer insights, and create an action plan for improvement.
The Three Types of Teams
The scenario gives teams the unfamiliar task of constructing an escape helicopter. After carrying out the simulated task, teams are presented with their planning to implementation ratio, and introduced to three types of teams:
- Fragmented. A fragmented team is characterized by autocratic leadership or groups that press the group into making quick decisions. This results in insufficient time to considering alternative strategies for accomplishing the project. Very fragmented groups don’t spend enough time planning and may not complete the project in the allotted time. There’s lack of involvement and conflict is suppressed or ignored.
- Divergent. A divergent group is characterized by passive leadership. Group members are overly cautious in problem solving and decision making. There are too many alternatives considered during the planning phase which creates little time left for implementation. Divergent teams are often unable to reach a consensus and they try to resolve their issues through voting procedures, which may not work.
- Cohesive. A cohesive team balances planning and implementation to achieve its goals. A cooperative atmosphere develops and everyone on the team is involved in structuring the work. Usually, assembly time only requires half of the planning time because many of the potential problems are avoided in advance. Consequently, the total time is usually less than that required by the fragmented or divergent groups. Cohesive
After learning which type of team behavior they’ve exhibited, the Nine Elements of Effective Teamwork give participants specific reflecting points to guide improvement. They help identify problem areas so that solutions and improvements are possible. They are:
- Cooperative, Supportive Climate
- Open Communication
- Meaningful Involvement
- Shifting Leadership
- Clear Goals and Objectives
- Agreed-upon Problem Solving Method
- Consensus Decision Making
- Healthy Conflict
- Task Satisfaction
While “Jungle Escape” is about team dynamics, it also provides a look at individual behaviors and how each individual can take action to improve the function of their group. Participants will be able to put their knowledge to work in any team situation or group interaction. It will instill in them a heightened awareness of what it means to be part of a team, and how each member of a team can be a leader – regardless of their title or rank. Learn more here: Jungle Escape Team Building Game.
Join training expert Gary Turner as he showcases the importance of group-process skills in team building with the webinar “A New Way to do Team Building Training.” You will learn how to identify a group as one of three types of teams, nine key indicators of team effectiveness, how to help teams find the balance between planning and implementation, the characteristics of a cohesive team – and how you can help your teams achieve this ideal, and you will learn action planning steps teams can implement immediately. Watch the recorded webinar here: HRDQ Webinar- A New Way to do Team Building