Before creating philanthropic teambuilding that gives back to the community through our Life Cycles program (where teams build a bike for children in local communities; Helping Hands and others, Odyssey Teams used outdoor experiences like ‘The Edge’ to help people move beyond fear – both real and perceived. And no program was more important to us than Healing Odyssey, a cancer survivor’s retreat for women conducted in the hills above Santa Barbara.
‘The Edge’ describes a literal cliff where women would hang their toes over the edge and stand tall in their harness with outstretched arms. Connected to ropes from behind, with eyes wide-open, they would lean out at a 45-degree angle beyond the Edge. Beyond the literal Edge is the Edge that lives in all of us. It is an end, a beginning, a place to avoid, or lean into, and so much more.
The challenge of Sales Managers and other bottom line movers:
The drive for results and meeting shareholder (and analysts) expectations requires growth in revenues and/or reduction costs to impact share price/value. The growth objective lands squarely on the shoulders of every sales manager, CEO, CFO and virtually everyone else in a for-profit business. The question that stirs their soul is how to achieve this growth…yet again? How to push the envelope…yet again? How do we meet the number…yet again?
The answer to this question inevitably leads to another question in the ‘how’ tree but starts to include those who can do something about it… people, the team, humans. How can we motivate people and teams into the actions required? How can we encourage and incentivize them to reach this new level? How can we create more synergy, more collaboration?
American Express and Lindblad Expeditions Donate to the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation
What a surprise at the end of our Helping Hands program October 8, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas when these two organizations handed me a 2 by 3 foot check for $5,000. Thank you American Express and Lindblad Expeditions. They had already co-funded this philanthropic teambuilding event where participants built 75 LN-4 prosthetic hands for people in developing countries but they wanted to do more. And more they did. I was blown away. Such good people, good companies, making such a difference. It inspired even more generosity when participants came up donating more to LN-4.org our partner in this project. One guy came up and simply handed me his business card and said, “I want to match their donation”, written on the card it said $5,000 and he turned and walked away.
I know Helping Hands makes a difference on so many levels but I am continually surprised by how much. I am just amazed and grateful.
Small Team Builds Hands and Changes Lives
When I was asked to do our Helping Hands philanthropic teambuilding program for a group of six people, I reluctantly agreed. My favorite size groups delivering Helping Hands, Life Cycles Build-a bike program and our others has been in the hundreds of participants range. I wasn’t sure how the build-up activities and conversations would go before assembling the LN-4 Prosthetic Hands.
This small group was from Cisco – Latin America and they just blew me away. Yes, the Latino culture lives up to its reputation of being a passionate culture.
These six have much to teach the rest of us about teamwork and leadership from a place of thinking deeply AND feeling deeply. They came to the states for a larger meeting with cohorts from North America. They wanted to align on desired outcomes and make a difference for others in the process.
What a difference they made for three people whose lives will be changed by receiving the new LN-4 prosthetic hands they built during the Helping Hands program. Most surprisingly, however, is the difference they made on me. I am digging small programs now just as much as the large ones – with the caveat that they’re ready to think deeply and feel deeply as this group did.
Philanthropic deed four times over.
The Odyssey Team divided and conquered last week in Texas, North Carolina, Michigan and Washington with one committed company. This company’s non-profit foundation is the largest in the world and today they leveraged both good deed AND developed their organizational culture. They were psyched with the approach and outcome of the Helping Hands Program, as well as the combination of business simulation and Charity. Conducting concurrent sessions in these states with their employees was a way to get them all on the same page without having to fly them all in to the same place. They found it easier to fly four of us to four different locations than to send 200 of them to one location. Collectively, we built about 60 LN-4 prosthetic hands and built a more committed team who is better focused on Customer Service through excellent delivery.
A company as big as this needs lots of small nudges to make a turn. The participants felt that nudge and are in turn pushing a little harder themselves. Look for great things from this ‘Ship’ in the near future. Any guesses who it is? Hint: Don’t let the nautical metaphor fool you. This ‘ship’ holds about 94,000 employees as of June 2012. A thousand new ones went through Odyssey’s Life Cycles program in July.
Philanthropic Team Building is good for your head, hands and heart
There is a new paradigm in the concept of Team Building and it’s called Philanthropic Team Building. In days gone by it was sufficient to be selfish, even decadent, about getting to know each other outside the work setting. When it was done well it involved heads and hands in experiential exercises and simulations. Now it’s about incorporating the heart through give back events or Philanthropic Team Building. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – all over the world.
Events like Life Cycles, the original Build a Bike workshop (Odyssey Teams has built and donated over 13,000 bikes alone), Helping Hands is the building prosthetic hands for amputees in developing countries (over 10,000 delivered to 63 countries), and The Playhouse Challenge have revolutionized the Team Building industry and it’s good for more than just your team. It’s good for your heads, hands and hearts and that means it’s good for the world.
Waiting. Plugged into one of the few, coveted outlets at Gate 12. Ready to pierce the night sky at 560 mph, 40,000 feet and 60 below zero – in a coke-bottle-shaped tube with wings. As the earth’s most collaborative species, together, we have made this kind of technologically advanced transportation possible. So many shoulders on which we have stood.
Our world is becoming smaller and smaller, faster and faster every day. But with each breakthrough in technology we also galvanize a new level of expectation where we feel justified in complaining that our flight is delayed an hour – or a day, or that “this” airline doesn’t have TVs in the back of EVERY seat or that our phone can’t make toast.
I thought you would all get great pleasure out of this news – October 2010, which is not quite yet over, represents our biggest month ever in terms of sending out hands –
By the end of this month we will have sent the following LN-4’s out (actually, there are more that have been sent out as samples, but these numbers are for actual fittings);
Dominican Republic: 80
As I have mentioned before about inventory, once these things start to happen, this inventory can be depleted rather quickly. Also, Odyssey Teams has ordered another 2,000 kits to be assembled and paid for as a result of the Helping Hands program. This is truly amazing news on all fronts everyone.
More than a philanthropic deed. More than a teambuilding process. More than just good corporate social responsibility.
Odyssey Teams’ Build-a-Hand teambuilding program is a radical re-examination of what work is and why we do it. Tried and tested by some of the world’s largest corporations, this philanthropic corporate training program is now available to companies of any size. It is a teambuilding idea whose time has come.
Build a prosthetic limb that will change the life of a land mine victim. Build a team that injects efficiency, innovation and spirit into the workplace. Build a more collaborative, caring and connected company.
By Karin Kapsidelis
Published: March 3, 2009
The bags of plastic parts and shiny screws might have been many things: something you wear on your head, one student guessed. A pen holder, said another.
But the sum of the parts was more than a classroom puzzle for Virginia Commonwealth University graduate students.
“You’re going to build eight hands that will go on eight different people and change their families,” said Todd Demorest, who oversaw a recent team-building lesson for students in the VCU School of Business’ fast-track executive program for a master’s in information systems.
photo by JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH
Kimion Walker (left) and Scott Lints participate in a team-building exercise at the VCU School of Business, where they built prosthetic hands for children.
The prosthetic hands will help children maimed by land mines — about 2,000 accidents occur each month from the estimated 100 million devices planted in 60 countries.
The idea to help children who have lost hands to land mines came from industrial engineer Ernie Meadows and his wife, Marj, whose daughter Ellen was killed in a car accident. Meadows designed the prosthetic hand as a memorial for his daughter and has turned the project over to Rotary International.
Rotary works with Odyssey Teams Inc., a California-based company that offers philanthropic team-building exercises for businesses.
Demorest, a facilitator with Odyssey, said that by creating value for others, these workshops develop teamwork and leadership skills in a way that the typical ropes courses and beach volleyball games can’t.
“This is real,” he said. “It’s not like a metaphor anymore.”
The Helping Hands workshop showed the business students that their goals should be “something bigger than just building a product and making a buck,” said John Testement, whose Glen Allen-based RoadMaps Consulting helped coordinate the VCU event.
He said the workshop also illustrated the need to avoid what can happen within a company when employees get “siloed” working on their own projects and “never look over the cubicle wall to see if they can help others.”
That was a focus of the workshop. Students were divided into teams, but it wasn’t a race to see which one could assemble the hand first. Team members were encouraged to stop and help other groups.
“Were we not able to collaborate with others, we would not have been able to put it together correctly,” said student Kimion Walker, whose team discovered it was missing a piece.
At the start of the event, the teams didn’t know their goal, although one student did guess they were building a mechanical hand.
When their work was done, the students saw of video of children receiving prosthetic hands. An artificial limb would cost about $3,000, according to Odyssey, but these hands are given to the children for free.
The VCU students decorated wooden boxes that will hold the hands they made and posed for pictures that will be given to the children.
It was the first time VCU has offered the Helping Hands workshop, said Jean B. Gasen, an associate professor and faculty adviser in the VCU information-systems department.
Students have told her the exercise put the challenges they face into a much different perspective, she said, and that the world would be a better place “if people could treat one another with the compassion that they felt on that day.”
The workshop was part of the orientation for students in the 14-month master’s program, and its lesson struck a chord with Walker.
“The key to effective leadership is to serve,” she said.
The current economic crisis shows the need for leaders with a strong sense of values, she added, noting that in the Wall Street meltdown, the nation is seeing how “capability without integrity can be dangerous.”
Contact Karin Kapsidelis at (804-) 649-6119 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Effective teamwork is powerful. We have all seen great sports teams and organizations rise above not because of their individual skills but their ability to align those skills in a direction that is superior to their opponent. Effective teamwork, however, does not come from ‘team building’.
In studying the essentials of producing great teams we, have found that great teams do not focus on team building, they focus on individual building…together.
There is a difference.
A focus on team building usually results in a temporary “feel good” but lacks the individual accountability necessary for synergistic results. A commitment to individual building…together creates longer, more sustainable results.
What does this mean? It means that The Chicago Bulls or the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t do ‘Team building’. They practice the skills that are required for them to be successful…together. That is, each person has a motivation to be their best AND to leverage the best from each other.
Team building is a by-product of ‘practicing’ on and off the field.
So what do we need to practice?
Achieving great results collectively requires each individual to assess critical skills and then practice like hell. Work out harder on free throws, or tune up your own listening skills, work out harder on self confidence, trust or respect. It is about bringing the whole player to the field.