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Can Covered Wagons Build Teams?

Daiv Russell asked:

The Industrial Revolution brought with it great changes in the nature of work. As innovative industrial technology and new methods of production made work more efficient, the worker’s tasks became increasingly specialized and impersonal, reducing interaction among co-workers. Success in business, if it is to be sustained, demands effective human collaboration.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the world of business has changed dramatically. The modern worker now has an increasingly specialized, isolating, and impersonal job. While technology has succeeded in making human productivity increase, effective human collaboration is most definitely needed for any long-term business success.

While it is no longer necessary for people to be in the same place at the same time to interact, there is no true replacement for live, physical interactions when building both relationships and team cohesiveness. Through in-person physical interactions, people are able to become partners and members of a team that is united in their work toward a common purpose. Employees then become much more capable of working together and energized in doing such to accomplish shared goals, rather than impersonal names on email distribution lists.

In an increasingly competitive business world where successful companies must be nimble, creative, and good at collaboration in order to take advantage of rapidly changing market conditions, smart businesses should utilize internal and external team building opportunities. Until people feel comfortable working together to solve shared problems, companies will be ineffective, lethargic, and unwieldy as everyone pulls and pushes in different directions to accomplish different ends.

During the growth of a company things becomes more complex. There are many businesses that have looked to pioneering settlers, and the military throughout history for their inspiration. Seeing that people faced logistical and physical changes built quick bonds, developing problem-solving abilities that are critical to a team. Thus people become more motivated to strive for group success.

The business world has taken examples from these models to promote team building opportunities. Covered wagon building and driving is one of these entertaining methods. Groups of 8-12 people are formed to complete a series of group tasks with themes from the trials of the Old West.

A covered wagon must be built by each team with specific technical instructions. A budget is provided to each team to purchase other supplies to put together their wagon. Each team must abide by the same rules, limits, and specifications. A team flag and camp song must also be picked by each team. Team will race their wagons after they have built them.

Throughout the event, it is the team member’s priority to practice communicating, decision-making, exercising leadership, and to work in tandem. They must practice problem solving in a group setting. People get a fun opportunity to develop a sense of trust in their teammates as they define roles and responsibilities to complete group challenges together. The adrenaline rush from each activities speed and novelty is also chemically conducive to the group developing a sense of camaraderie.

Team building events like these can help take people out of their comfort zones and help them overcome self-limiting fears and mental barriers. They can be a safe, fun, and exciting way for companies to develop innovative, cohesive, and highly effective project teams. Team building exercises can help companies become more effectively interdependent, both internally within company departments and externally with business partners and vendors. Everyone can benefit when people feel highly motivated and comfortable working together toward common goals.

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