Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Balloon Sofa


I have found myself becoming quite jaded over the last few years when it comes to ice breakers, team building exercises and warmers. Of course, people who are new to a group need to get to know their colleagues but some of the painful games and activities I have been press ganged into facilitating still make me wince when I think about them years down the line. The cheesiest one is the ‘ball of truth’ that people have to throw around a room or the ‘untangle the knot’ game where wool is passed through people’s legs. My view has always been that if it makes even one person in the group feel uneasy on their first day then the wrong activity has been chosen. When I am the master of my own ice breaking destiny, I always go for something simple with room for people to say a lot or a little and with a guarantee that all will speak.

So… it was with some trepidation that I ventured to a colleague’s room to help police his ‘make a sofa out of balloons’ team building activity. I could feel myself tensing up at the thought of burly blokes (there are several, all outspoken, in this group) giving it ‘What the bloody ‘ell do you want us to do that for?’

But…man, it was excellent. Not only did they laugh but they learnt a lot about the importance of following instructions to the letter, mechanisms for collaboration and economies of scale and, in fact, optimum design for a balloon sofa that will support the weight of a human for 30 seconds. I admit that I didn’t think it’d work but for two of the three groups it did. The one group where it didn’t work were at a slight disadvantage as they didn’t have a ‘lighter’ member of the group to be the person to sit on the chair.

I also learned that from time to time I need to stop being so damned cynical and give things a chance. Apart from that I had a shit day cos I still have a headache that started yesterday and it’s my girl’s birthday and we’re on different sides of the country.

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