iDisorder – Unplugged, Live – it’s Odyssey Teams!
“iDisorder: Understanding our obsession with Technology and overcoming its hold on us” is a new book by Ph.D.’s Larry Rosen with N.A. Cheever and L.M. Carrier. It is a fascinating subject that supports the basis of Odyssey Teams world-renowned Philanthropic Team Building Programs. Life Cycles, Helping Hands and our other Corporate Social Responsible offerings I’m sure would be a welcomed breath of fresh air to the above co-authors.
I encourage you to go to Amazon.com search the book title and click on the ‘read inside’ button. Read the first few pages of Chapter 1. It lays out so many often seen and experienced examples of how technology gets in the way of effective relationships, family, and teams. The authors state early on that they believe in, use, and appreciate the technological advances that come before us at an unprecedented speed. However, they believe there is a time and place for these items, as most any ‘tool’ can be used to build or destroy…intentionally or unintentionally.
Environment and Opportunity!
220 people changed the lives of 44 youth and vice versa. This all took place in a warehouse in East Los Angeles via our capstone Philanthropic Team Building Life Cycles Program.
As the lead facilitator I had some work cut out for me. The physical environment/meeting space was a challenge. It felt like I was trying to do surgery in a swamp-infested jungle with mosquitos buzzing around everywhere and pythons dropping down from the trees. However, the participants were outstanding…optimistic, engaging, and willing to take on whatever we put on the agenda. The result was a huge victory for all involved.
Team Building- Connect to the “Why” at work
Life is now, for the moment. At Odyssey Teams, Inc. we strive to bring emotion and insight in our programs so people get at a visceral level what it means to Plan, Support, Align, Create etc. together. Two of our goals during our Philanthropic Corporate Team Building sessions are to create an emotional connection to the ‘why’ of people’s work and strengthen the connections to the people they work with on the job/projects.
It is a busy time of year for us. In the past 24 days we’ve been in 2 countries, 5 states, delivering 4 types of philanthropic and team building programs to 19 different groups. Needless to say we are a bit road weary though proud of the results we’ve co-created with our partners and participants.
At the start of this ‘run’ I was at UCLA Medical Center and watched a friend (45 years young, wife, 2 kids 6yrs & 3yrs) just four feet away take his last breath. My wife had her hand on his heart, while his wife held his hand as he went to the next place. From that moment on it has been a special kind of Team Building and Charitable event. His family and friends mobilized to plan and align on all of the many known and unknown next steps. Support, brainstorming, creativity and care were all on hyper aware mode. The results made the best (and beautiful) of very challenging times for all involved.
It seems more and more people are being ‘Teflon Business Nice’ to each other — Being pleasant, saying just enough, following protocol, a bit of ‘game face’ on, keeping it surface level. While this may work on a typical/average day, the risk is that a crisis, critical choice point, or other breakdown may occur and these people have no depth of connection/relationship to reach out to those who need help or the ability to extend to those who may help them with their issue.
Things are easier with others by our sides. Share a bit more of yourself- Life is now.
So, connect. Connect now.
One of the business simulations incorporated in our programs is called ‘Pressure Points’. Unwittingly, a barrier is created (raised) by participants in the simulation that negatively impacts communication, problem-solving, and decision-making. The challenge is to lower the barrier to these and the ‘Pressure Points’ bar will follow. Like life, what seems simple, is at times quite trying. In ‘business as usual’ the barrier often goes up rather than down.
Participants often describe the need for better work/life balance. And it seems one of the current infringements on this alluring ‘balance’ is the technology that was suppose to help us achieve it – EMAIL
Aside from too many emails being ‘cc’d’ to people who don’t really need to know (nor care to know) there is another significant problem – Checking and responding to emails on the weekends and after hours.
What was once a fun thing to check on the new ‘mobile device’ has now turned in to an addiction that is hard to kick. Yes, it’s a global economy, but does it have to be a 24/7 economy? Who is making that rule? If you are checking and responding to emails after hours and/or on weekends then you could be-unintentionally. By doing so, you help raise the barrier to work/life balance because whomever you emailed may have felt (out of duty, guilt, fear, brown nose etc.) compelled to reply on the weekend… and so on and so on and the multiplier effect ensues and now people are checking their devices on ‘date nights’, children’s sports events, dinner tables, on the couch.
Perhaps you just wake up early or stay up late while others are sleeping. Might you need a good nights sleep too? Will the caffeinated ‘energy drink’ pull you through and make you present during the rest of your sleepy day?
The costs? You know them – less time to exercise, less energy, less quality time with those you care most about, less time for you and more distractions and stress.
Are there exceptions and benefits? Of course, such as, closing a deal; use of ‘jet lag’ time in hotel rooms. Working with a client in India or the Czech Republic requires some odd hours. We know that anything taken to excess has the potential to become our weakness. Thus, it’s not all or none, rather, whether out of duty, joy, ambition, or fear we must remain aware of the line to know when we’ve crossed it.
Trust the process (a work week etc.) and people on your teams. The barrier will lower. Things will get handled in a timely, professional, manner. Customers and business will carry on quite well…and you will too.
So who is going to go first – and with their seemingly insignificant amount of influence on the barrier of work/life balance in their firm – and NOT do emails on the weekends and such? Will it be you or will you wait to see who goes first? If the later, we’ll all be waiting and doing emails ferociously in the meantime. And the priceless non-renewable resource of time for self and those we love is gone. Be aware of the pattern (and what’s important to you) and make a choice.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) seems to be competing with “Green” on the business magazine covers and newspaper headlines. There are many interpretations of CSR, and the intent behind the actions taken and publicized by the organizations─most often either pro or con.
Opportunities abound for CSR events that are positive for all involved. An important consideration is what events will be selected. Often, employees have a very limited view of what their companies do in the CSR arena. They may be aware, for example, of a United Way campaign or a Wells for Water type fundraiser. Unless employees make the time to look on the company’s internal website, they may not really understand the complexity or generosity of the company and the difference it makes around the world — beyond its normal goods and services.
In these tumultuous times, organizations are facing a multitude of challenges, such as keeping the people in the company energized, ambitious, connected to their work, and in a positive mood; in other words, the ideal employee. It is hard to do anything exceptional on top of a lousy mood. The proper choice of CSR events can increase cross-functional networks, decrease communication silos, foster solution-based thinking and raise mood levels, and thus, productivity.
With the challenge (and scrutiny) of being in a “fishbowl” where the decisions of investments and cuts are critical and viewed and felt by many, a one-time tested choice is to allocate funds to the people. This allocation, with a specific ROI in mind, and with a process, tool, and/or service that is highly recommended can be a “brass ring” that is reachable and deemed worthy by all involved.
By investing CSR funds and time in the employees, they will feel included, taken care of, worthwhile and appreciated. They will also learn new skills and/or competencies that are essential to the game of business as their roles evolve. There is a belief that if a company–and the individuals in the company–treat their internal customers as well as their external customers, more often than not everything else will work out, even better than expected at all levels of the business.
Today, more and more companies are turning to a melding of CSR/philanthropy and team building events for their employees. Companies can no longer afford to have team building just for fun or entertainment. Employees will rarely stay on one team. It is imperative that resources spent on building a team will create the capacity for individuals to make powerful choices and blend more easily as they move from team to team.
These hybrid team building events are a fabulous place to bring corporate values and/or targeted points to life. Participants have an opportunity to connect with their co-workers as they participate in altruistic activities (i.e., prosthetic hands for land mine victims, bicycles for less fortunate youth, playhouses for children hospitals, etc.). These programs provide a visceral experience that anchors the learning points with emotion, which lasts longer than a PowerPoint presentation or a team photo. In addition, the employee has a “face” to the people affected by the company’s CSR initiatives and/or the benefits of where the company contributes. And perhaps more important, they, too, will feel as if they are being corporate socially responsible with all the pride, gratitude and humility that comes with it.
The cynicism that often goes along with team building events is diminished in these highly developed and relevant training events. The value is discovered at the outset and continues beyond the classroom walls. Those who are cynics have progressed to becoming skeptics; the skeptics to “on the bus”; the others to full-blown players on the team full of ambition. This ambition is fueled by their connection to who they work with; the work they do; and the impact they make internally and externally in this world that needs a little CSR everywhere.
When in a conversation that is aimed at team building, target a program that can provide a wide ROI for the employees, their teams, and the internal and external aspects of the business; offer them the opportunity to put their thumbprint on something that touches near and far. Philanthropic team building is a sure way to hit the CSR mark at many levels.
About the Author
Todd Demorest is the lead facilitator with Odyssey Teams, Inc, a Chico, California-based firm that helps business leaders keep their eye on the prize by building a stronger organization through processes designed to promote team building, innovation, enhanced customer service and greater profitability. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We often add a little Odyssey color/flair to our events with quotes etc. (like the one above from Tommy Protho) placed throughout the training room. This quote usually gets a laugh. It’s true isn’t it? Every team has it’s little blemishes here and there. And on a given day or project it can be anybody’s turn to be the ‘blemish’.
For over 20 years I’ve had the pleasure to see some of the best aspects of humanity in this work. It seems during our programs people are really challenging themselves, and opening up to be ‘good people’ to each other. To include, speak positive, and support each other during the task at hand. Should a dysfunctional ‘blemish’ appear, we all learn from it and move forward without blame, drama, politics etc. In short, people are being socially responsible.
While this has been happening at a foundational level for decades with Odyssey’s team building programs… Seven years ago we wanted to bring it into the spotlight and well beyond the training room walls. Thus, the inception of our Corporate Social Responsibility – Helping Odyssey programs.
Life Cycles, Helping Hands, and Playhouse Project programs give people the opportunity to create tangible results that effect local and global people, families, and communities. It is emotional, and valued by all that are involved.
More than a sound bite heard from a CEO, at Helping Odyssey’s participants get the unique and compelling satisfaction of ‘walking the talk’ and giving back, adding to etc. It feels good to make a difference in some ones life. It also feels good to learn something new and relevant about yourself, team, and business – guaranteed to happen at one of our trainings.
Experience (Odyssey w/17 years, 21 countries, 150,000 people) and positive, common, extraordinary teambuilding experiences are key to the growth of teams and leaders.
Are you the leader you are today because of the experiences you’ve had: In sports, at church and in scouting? Under a mentor’s guidance and through challenges you’ve overcome? Through casual time with cohorts, from your time in the field and by having honest conversations?
We bet you answered Yes to most of the above. More than any book, class, PowerPoint presentation, or lecture, your most effective training has come from your experiences and your willingness to learn from them.
Leaders who have the humility to know they need to learn more and the drive to do so – engage in experiences that matter throughout their careers.
Rekindle and support your team’s leadership qualities and behaviors. These results occur time and again during the Life Cycles, Helping Hands, and Playhouse Project programs we deliver and we don’t take them for granted.
30 – 1200 people in 4-7 hours? That is where Odyssey Teams, Inc. excels like no other. Team building with purpose. Because experience and experiences matter!
In Odyssey’s team building and philanthropic bike building teambuilding programs (Life Cycles), we often mention that if you want something to be different for your self, team or business… the first thing to do is to catch yourself being yourself. This raised level of awareness puts you almost as ‘another person’ in the room watching/noticing your actions. This added awareness gives you more choices in which to move.
You may catch yourself being cynical, taking the lead, acquiescing, not asking for help, going first, going last, playing it safe, taking a risk, making a put-down, holding back a request, etc.
As soon as you notice a particular conditioned tendency creeping in, the gift then is to pause and decide if this action/thought will serve or hinder what you’re up to and where you want to go. You may find a benefit to do more of ‘it’, less of ‘it’ or keep ‘it’ as is… thus, Choice. Now you get to respond and have influence rather than reacting…which can often cause mischief for you and/or those around you.
Our Life Cycles (Build-a-Bike), Helping Hands, and Playhouse Project programs all offer new and neutral experiences for people to have fun, connect with others, and to practice catching themselves being themselves.
Added bonus: The culture of your teams and business (just people) will shift for the better when this practice/skill is in the mix with you and your cohorts.
So go fishing. I’m sure you’ll catch something useful.
Something unique happens when a person builds something; a model airplane, a garden, a scrapbook, or woodworking project etc. Time and moods seem to shift and a sense of pride and accomplishment shows up when the builder steps back and looks at their tangible creation.
Team building is important. Teams nowadays have new members joining on and other members moving on. Change is in the mix at many levels. Teams can always use ‘time out’ to practice fundamentals, to get back on track, and realign. Often models, theories, and powerpoint presentations are the design of choice for these issues. We say, mix it up. Build something.
Build something real! Build a bike for a surprised tyke. Build a helping ‘Hand’ for a disabled youth. Build a playhouse for a youth center. Build a team in the process, and something ‘real’. Feel the difference.
Communication, networking, strategy, decision making, leadership skills and development all happen naturally as people and teams build things together. We’ve seen this happen time an again for all sizes and types of groups in our Life Cycles, Helping Hands, and Playhouse Project programs. The bonus is that the learning is anchored with an emotional/visceral feeling of pride, camaraderie, and the sense of making a difference.
So when teambuilding is in order for a sales meeting, a launch, a boost, an acknowledgement, or a quick realignment to what really is important for self, team, and business. Mix it up. Build something real!
Have you often noticed that from the outside everything looks bright, shiny, strong, and new – like a brand new bike? Then when looking closely realize there isn’t a kickstand to hold it up, nor a person to give it support for it’s ultimate use?
People on teams need support; even if they are over there by themselves looking ‘OK’. Is it safe enough for them to say ‘help, please’? Are you in tune enough to notice they’re off their game and offer them help?
Teambuilding programs such as Odyssey’s Life Cycles – bicycle building program provide opportunities for people to practice asking for help and for helping others. People are willing to do so because the teambuilding environment is politically level and because the tasks are mostly new for everyone involved. There is ‘no shame’ in asking for help…even if it’s “How do I build a bike? Also, people don’t get an ‘I’m good, I can do it alone’ response when they are offered a helping hand. It’s safe, thus, more people are willing to offer support and wisdom and ask for it too.
So whether you’re going to build a bike or not…keep your eye on what systems or what people are in place to let that piece of potential reach its maximum. Make it safe for someone to say “I need a kickstand” or “let me help you get that bike going”.