Our world-renowned philanthropic team building programs are custom designed to match the goals/themes of the group. A charitable component is always in the mix. Often times during the leadership teambuilding sessions ‘change’ is in the mix too.
Our main office in Chico California is located across the street from the magnificent Bidwell Park. Over 3000 acres of +100 year old trees, creek, and trails that goes right through the heart of town. The office is the birthplace of the original Life Cycles program where teams build a bike for a deserving child. The park is a continual lesson in life and a touchstone.
Many of us Odyssey crew take to the park for solitude, recollections of loved ones, exercise and rejuvenation. The park is alive. Currently leaves are dropping off of the majestic oaks and sycamore trees. They fall at just the right time for each particular leaf. They fall quietly with grace rather than drama or hoopla. They provide a soft path for those around to stroll on. They provide precious sunlight during winter for the life in the woods. They provide space for new growth and possibility in the Spring – New growth in their beloved trees and in the new soil they helped create.
Change. Always in the mix…and often in our life changing philanthropic team-building events. We encourage leaders to explore what patterns, thoughts, and actions they can let drop. So they can have space to do many new amazing things for themselves and those around them.
People’s votes are heard around the world at Odyssey’s Teambuilding Philanthropic programs such as Helping Hands, Life Cycles and Playhouse Challenge. In a recent week span we delivered programs in Brazil, Singapore, Canada, and California.
Participants in these team-building programs were the opposite of silent and apathetic. They listened (maybe initially biased or jaded) to what was presented, they were open to new possibilities, they took up calls for new action, and they created goodwill by doing good works.
During these corporate team building (and charitable events) they shared different perspectives and respected the valuable differences and strengths in their midst. By their voices and actions they voted for how they want their ‘world’ to be at work, home, and beyond.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Corporate team building putting focus on good deeds – Building bikes for kids, prosthetic hands for landmine survivors.
Written by Darrell Smith for the Sacramento Beedvsmith@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, March 28, 2008
Story appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D1 of the Sacramento Bee
Xyratex employees assemble a bicycle during a team-building exercise this month at the Le Rivage hotel in Sacramento. Randall Benton / email@example.com
Chris Sharman did a couple of unexpected things at a team-building workshop with 44 of his co-workers from the data storage firm Xyratex. First, he built a prosthetic hand and placed it in a wooden gift box that he and his teammates decorated.
Then, after he saw a brief slide show about the land mine victims all around the world waiting to receive the device, he brushed away a tear.
Eschewing the rope climbs and trust falls that have long been the traditional exercises at such retreats, Xyratex, based in the United Kingdom, and other companies choose to cement team bonds by giving employees a project with a higher purpose.
“We figured out what it was for fairly early,” said Sharman, a Xyratex vice president, who had safely stowed the prosthesis he helped build under his chair. But that didn’t lessen the impact, he said. “It pales into insignificance, your problems.”
“Philanthropic team building” it’s called, and Xyratex sought out a Chico-based firm that has designed and facilitated team-building experiences like this one for the better part of two decades. Known as Odyssey, it helps employees and managers work better together while helping the larger community in a “mix of inspiration and practical philanthropy.”
The Xyratex employees who came to Sacramento’s Le Rivage hotel from around the world March 4, worked together to build not only prosthetic hands but also bikes that they donated on the spot to nine smiling children from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento. “We’ve tapped into the humanity of business,” said Lain Hensley, co-founder and chief operating officer of Odyssey. ” … You don’t have to quit your job and join the Peace Corps.”
Utilizing firms like teambonding, with its twin homes in Boston and San Diego, to Oakland’s Team Building Unlimited to Repario of Lake Tahoe, Nev., more companies in California are fusing corporate team building with good works.
“It’s not just the trick du jour anymore,” said Danika Davis, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based Northern California Human Resources Association. ” … Anytime you add meaning, it’s going to have an impact and drive the message home.”
The emphasis on good works may even be part of a larger trend in corporate giving. Harold McGraw III, president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill Cos. and chairman of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, discussed the evolution in the committee’s 2007 review.
McGraw said the New York-based forum of corporate leaders now spearheads “holistic philanthropy” which, in part, “taps into the tremendous desire of employees to participate through their volunteerism.”
Odyssey’s programs are a natural fit for Xyratex, which has focused on charitable giving to children who live near their sites in Malaysia, Europe and the United States throughout its 13-year history.
Todd Gresham, a Xyratex executive vice president, has seen the program’s effects on his people.
“The IT industry has a unique culture. Many came from venture-backed organizations, and this type of (exercise) tears down walls of intellectual prowess or macho success,” Gresham said. “You see people who are very powerful in the industry broken down to their rawest levels of emotion.”
It works on a number of levels, said Dwight Burlingame, associate executive director of the Indianapolis-based Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, a leading center on giving.
Many companies use this approach to increase morale, give employees a greater and clearer sense of purpose and develop a stronger understanding of the company’s mission, Burlingame said.
“Firms are focusing in on how they can use community involvement programs to increase pride within their companies and increase morale,” he said. “To be working for a company where you have that opportunity to build team pride in a business, that can provide another factor in the sense of engagement with the employer.”
Xyratex employees, including about 450 in West Sacramento, produce data storage technology that has been embedded in systems for machinery as diverse as the space shuttle and GE Healthcare’s mammography equipment, Gresham said.
“The person you’re building that for could be your wife or your daughter,” Gresham said. “It brings home that (the customer) is not just buying sheet metal and software.”
Company executives emphasize delivering quality products that meet customer needs, so it was no surprise that Xyratex employees were anxiously awaiting signs of approval when the door swung open for the nine children who had no idea what they’d be receiving.
“Do they look like new bikes?” Odyssey facilitator Todd Demorest asked. “Who’s No. 5? They built you a brand new bike!”
No. 5 was 10-year-old Alondra Tovar.
“I was really in shock,” Tovar said later, standing next to her bicycle. “It was amazing that they gave us (each) a bike.”
That’s the payoff for Odyssey’s Hensley.
“For the 99 percent who are skeptics, there’s the 1 percent who say, ‘I want to enjoy my work,’ ” Hensley said. “We want them to say, ‘When I created this hand, I could probably do that more often, and I can probably change the life of someone two cubicles away.’ They forget. That child, that hand, embodies that purpose.”
Xyratex employees Ed Prager, left, and Penny Gillhan put together one of the nine bikes destined as gifts for children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento. Randall Benton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Alondra Tovar, 10, gets her new helmet adjusted, which goes along with the bicycle she received from Xyratex. Randall Benton / email@example.com