How a Fortune 500 Company Achieved Cross Departmental Collaboration

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Team building activities are more than just good ways to pass the time at your organization’s corporate gatherings – the right team building program can actually solve deep-rooted issues in your company. Find out how this happened for a large Fortune 500 company here.

Cross-Departmental Communication Challenges

Best Corporate Events®, North America’s top-rated corporate team building organization, was contacted by a large Fortune 500 organization’s HR department in search of a corporate team building event in Boston, MA. The organization was experiencing communication and cross-collaboration issues between the headquarters and satellite offices, resulting in poor time management.

This organization was looking for an activity highlighting these problems so they could be addressed proactively in a “debrief and solutions meeting” to follow. The activity that Best Corporate Events developed had people participating in different geographic locations hundreds of miles apart, working together in real-time and utilizing all available communication tools, including video conferencing and cell phones. With the lessons from this interactive event fresh on their minds, the debrief that followed was very passionate, and the lessons spoke volumes.

The Team Building Solution

Participants were broken into 12 teams, and each of the 12 teams was given the materials to build identical complex wooden structures (3-D puzzles). They were also given a list of critical information. The building materials were sent to each location with specific instructions not to be accessed until the event’s start.

The goal would be very challenging – each of the 12 groups would be given 60 minutes to build the structure, study it in great detail, and practice building it again and again quickly and efficiently as a sub-team. The GOAL – with the pieces scattered in front of each team, all 12 teams would have to be able to build all 12 structures simultaneously at three different locations in under 60 seconds!

Achieving Cross-Departmental Collaboration Through Team Building

To be successful in this activity, however, groups would need to use cross-departmental communication to share information and tricks of the trade as the activity progressed. In the 60-minute prep session, several groups were eventually able to build the structure at least once. Still, they ultimately failed to cross-share the information with other teams, instead choosing to practice a few times and then watch these other teams struggle. Two teams eventually did send out scouts and conferred with other teams, but by the time they had begun that process, there was too little time remaining. Some groups could not complete the structure even once, failing to put out feelers to see what help they could garner from other teams, and instead choosing to work in a vacuum while the information they needed was only a question away! The teams that completed their puzzle assumed that their task was completed and failed to grasp the goal that had been presented: to have ALL teams positioned to build the structure in less than 60 seconds!

When the 60 minutes were up, and the identified goal of every team being able to complete the building of their structure in under 60 seconds was presented, only a few teams were able to complete the structure in time. Thus the ultimate activity goal was not realized.

Quite naturally, the three teams that had completed the building of the structure in under 60 seconds thought that they had “won” (complete with high–fives and congratulatory handshakes!). During the recap, the teams that had completed the structure found that unbeknownst to them, they had been given additional information, which increased their chances for structural success. At the same time, they had made the assumption that everyone had the same information!

After some pride swallowing, all teams realized that they were positioned for success! All of the information needed did exist within the teams. Teams that needed help did not ask for help. Teams positioned with the additional information did not check with other teams but made grave assumptions.

Participants from every office strongly identified with the activity and were able to verbalize numerous work examples of similar communication breakdowns. The facilitator was able to lead a video conference discussion between the sites, which led to concrete steps to communicate more effectively, including:

  • Implementing a system modification of how information would be shared between offices.
  • Determining what each individual would do differently to prevent similar communication breakdowns.
  • Creating an environment that not only allows cross-departmental collaboration but also encourages asking questions.

Best Corporate Events offers numerous team building programs that can be tailored to your company’s specific goals, including events that inspire cross departmental collaboration.

To embark on a Boston team building event with your company or learn more about how Best Corporate Events can help your team reach your corporate goals, contact us today.

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