(Photo Credit: Anthony Dunn Photography)

Our main office is located in Chico, California; its beauty in the fall rivals that of the New England coast. Chico is also home to Bidwell park; over 3000 acres of +100 year old trees, creek, and trails that goes right through the heart of town. Over 18 years ago, the office was the birthplace of the original Build-a-Bike program that we call Life Cycles. The park is a continual lesson in life and an industry touchstone.

Many of the Odyssey crew take to the park for solitude, recollections of loved ones, exercise and rejuvenation. The park is alive currently, though leaves are dropping off of the majestic oaks and sycamore trees. Each particular leaf, falls at its own special time.

They fall quietly with grace, rather than drama or hoopla. They provide a soft path for those around to stroll on. Their absence lets in precious sunlight during winter for the life in the woods, and creates space for new growth and possibility in the Spring. New growth in their beloved trees and in the new soil they helped fortify.

Change is always in the mix…and in Odyssey’s life-changing philanthropic team building events. Like the change of the seasons, we encourage leaders to explore what patterns, thoughts, and actions they can let drop. So they too can have space to do new amazing things for themselves and those around them.

Our world renowned programs are custom designed to match the goals/themes of the group. A charitable component is always in the mix. And often times during the leadership team building sessions  ‘change’ is in the mix too.

With gratitude,

Todd Demorest

“Lain Hensley and Odyssey Teams are redefining the typical corporate team building program. It came out of a need to bring people closer together, with a common purpose, and to make a positive, lasting impact on the world.”

– Brandon Laws, director of marketing, Xenium

In this podcast,  Brandon Laws of Xenium interviews Odyssey Teams’ COO, Lain Hensley about how Odyssey Teams’ philanthropic team building events make employees’ time spent together more meaningful. Hensley goes into more detail about why giving back to the community can build effective teams and great culture and what actual employees are saying in response to this new type of corporate team building program.

Listen to the podcast – One Company’s Approach To Team Building or read the full transcript here.

If you have any questions about Odyssey Teams’ philanthropic team building events, feel free to reach out to the team directly at learn@odysseyteams.com or 800-342-1650

By: Todd Demorest, Odyssey Teams Chief Facilitation Officer

Pop your ears lately? A short and sweet lesson on slowing down for more effective leadership

We lived on the Big Island of Hawaii and our house was down on the beach – sea level. The closest town (Waimea – of Parker Ranch fame) was a 15-20 minute drive up the slopes of the Kohala mountains at 2,500 feet above sea level. My wife, family, and I made this drive frequently.

One morning as I was driving up the hill with the sun rising over Mauna Kea for a meeting with leaders from the community, I noticed the need to pop/clear my ears. This was not new, though this time I realized something…I shouldn’t be popping my ears.

Why, because I’m not supposed to be ascending the hill so fast. I’m supposed to be walking or maybe on a horse or mule at best. Going up the hill more SLOWLY. That is how my body (this gift) is/was designed to go up hills. At a pace that is gradual enough that my body can adapt to the pressure changes in a smooth efficient manner.

Where else am I moving/ascending unnaturally too fast that it is causing enough stress that I have to intervene? How do I intervene and deal with the stress? Sure, I can do it, survive, crunch down and ‘git ‘er done’ and maybe instead of popping my ears, I could:

– Take ibuprofen every day for my 1 pm headache

– See a chiropractor 3 times a week

– Wear a tooth guard at night

– Take something to help me sleep

– Get edgy towards my internal/external customers and/or the people I say I care most about

-or… you fill in the blank

Regardless, I have to do something to cope with the velocity and capacity that I am attempting to deal with. Some choices…


  • 1. Reduce the speed – speed kills.
  • 2. Reduce the capacity- I don’t have to, nor can I do it all.
  • 3. Pause for 30 seconds, take a breath, notice my shoulders are raised to my ears or that my jaw is tense or that I’m excessively gripping the steering wheel, etc. etc. and then release the noticeable tension with an exhale.

But, as Grammy Award winner James Taylor says:

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it….” Take a moment and listen to the whole song.

Slow down. Pause. You and the people you live and work with are worth it.

P.S. Step 3 above works best. Do it first, at least 3 times a day.

Todd’s lesson in slowing down is a part of every Odyssey Teams program he facilitates.  Leaders need to slow down to be effective and Todd offers humble reminders of this fact into his program messaging.  It’s easy for him to do this because living life with an intentional pace is how Todd rolls.

For more information on Odyssey Teams’ effective leadership programs, you can reach us at learn@odysseyteams.com or 800 – 342-1650.

By: Kim Clary, Director Of Client Success

It’s a rare and unique blessing in this life to not only enjoy your craft but to also enjoy your colleagues—and even your clients!

Joe Stephens, Assistant Dean & Director, The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, is not just a client but a dear friend. Building a relationship with Joe and his family has been full of joy. Over dinners, country two-stepping, and the Mister Rogers movie, my colleagues and I have had the privilege of forging wonderful relationships with Joe, his family, and his tremendous colleagues (Rebecca Gutierrez, Robert Alanis, Ariel Brown, Andrea Kehoe, Misael Mendoza-Valdez, Teresa Phillips, and Stephen Limberg).

Odyssey Teams has partnered with Joe over the past decade at University of Missouri and UT Austin to bring powerful philanthropic team building programs for his MBA students. Joe has been a part of the Odyssey Teams family well before I joined the gang. His belief in our work has led to dozens of transformational corporate team building programs for his MBA students.

This August, we partnered with Joe to provide three Helping Hands programs and one Life Cycles program – we were in Austin a lot!  Joe eagerly shares the Odyssey Teams goodness with his students and at our insistence, he invited wife and two daughters to attend a Helping Hands session right alongside the students.

I was not surprised to discover that his family is just as amazing as he is. I had the privilege of partnering with his eldest daughter Caroline on an exercise about why it was important to the students to finish strong.  Joe asked me to change Caroline’s question to, “Why does she want to learn Chinese?” I was so impressed by her answers. She wants to learn Chinese so that she can become an international business consultant, command a healthy salary, enjoy going to work every day, raise an amazing family, and impact the world.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t spoken to very many eighth graders with this kind of global mindset. Caroline is growing up in a powerful culture of learning. Watching Associate Dean at Texas McCombs, Steve Limberg, interact with Joe and his family during The Helping Hands program made me a little bit jealous of the immersion into the pool of brilliant minds that Caroline and her sister Cate are receiving at such a young age.  

Every single colleague of Joe’s absolutely loves him and his family. We are so grateful for “frients” (friend/clients – I just made up a word : ) ) like Joe.

If you’d like more information on team building programs for MBA students or other student groups, please email me at kim@odysseyteams.com

Odyssey client, NetApp was just given the honor of “Third Best Multinational Work Place” according to greatplacetowork.com. We are extremely proud, yet not surprised. Over the years they have been enthusiastic participants in our Life Cycles and Helping Hands programs. Throughout our partnership we have helped them deepen the individual and organizational ‘Why’ of their work. This has provided a more powerful perspective and context for answering the ‘How’ questions they strive towards:

How can we be more collaborative?

How can we be more innovative?

How can we improve quality?

How can we be more customer-centric?

How can we give more to the community?

They worked on the answer to each of these, and the by-products have been incredible amounts of bicycles built for (and given to) under privileged children and hundreds of prosthetic hands funded and built for amputees in developing countries. While other companies might do a charity event to check the box, NetApp understands the connective element to character, culture, contribution and customer. These Four C’s are the building blocks of innovation, quality, customer-centricity, and community – and NetApp is not afraid to talk about it. Odyssey Teams has provided the structure and process for them to do this powerfully.

Not surprisingly, NetApp is now where people want to work and where they want to do business.

Well done, NetApp. The world is watching. Way to use your heads, hands and hearts!


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 and 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 acknowledgment, or a quick realignment to what really is important for self, team, and business. Mix it up. Build something real!


Sometimes you get the satisfaction of being able to bring pure happiness to people, and earlier this year we got to do so with Kindergartners from nine different schools in San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas Corridor in Mexico. We teamed up with Scotiabank for the Playhouse Challenge.

Corporate Team Building that Creates Opportunity

Not all children have the opportunity to live a lifestyle where they get to simply be a child and play—this is why we build and donate playhouses through our Odyssey Playhouse Challenge. We donate these playhouses to nonprofit youth programs, children’s hospitals, or low-income housing in various communities.


Scotiabank wanted to have an award recognition program for their tellers and other customer-facing employees, so they reached out to Odyssey Teams. We helped conduct two different Playhouse Challange groups—each with 250 people—to further their values of respect, integrity, passion and accountability.

Collectively, the two groups built, donated and delivered 20 playhouses to these nine different schools in Mexico.

A “Neighborhood Stroll”

The unique aspect in this specific program was that we had children from one of the schools come to see the playhouses, where they were able to pick out their three favorite houses. All participants took a “neighborhood stroll” at the end to see the houses their colleagues had built before ending with a final debrief that connected the experiences back to the values and purpose of Scotiabank.

Philanthropic Team Building at Its Finest

So far, with the help of you and your companies, we have made 678 playhouses and have made a positive addition to more than 2,500 lives. The lessons your team takes away from this corporate give back activity are as significant as the playhouses they’ll leave behind. You can learn more about our Playhouse Challenge and other give back events.


playhouse challenge odyssey

odyssey playhouse challenge

odyssey playhouse challenge

odyssey team building

odyssey teams  teambuilding

Earlier this year, President, CEO and CO – Founder of Odyssey Teams, Inc., Bill John, took a trip to Da-Nang, Vietnam for a fitting of prosthetic hands and his trip was “transformational.”

Lending A Hand through Team Building

Twenty-one amputees from Vietnam—people who have lost limbs from various reasons—received prosthetic hands that have been assembled by all the amazing companies and organizations who have participated in our Helping Hands program.

As of today, we’ve put 29,000 prosthetic hands on people from all around the world. Without you, without companies like you, none of this would have been possible. This is a business simulation, and we wield this simulation in classrooms, trainings, conferences, and sales kick-offs very powerfully. The experience is a metaphor for how (and why) we work, but it’s much more than just another metaphor. To say that building these hands has an impact is an understatement.

Shire Pharmaceuticals Experiences Helping Hands ‘Live’, Sponsors Hands

Shire Pharmaceuticals APAC (Asia-Pacific) Leaders converged in Ho Chi Minh City and went through Odyssey Teams’ Helping Hands ‘Live’ teambuilding program facilitated by Bill. The attendees assembled eight hands—the cognition of knowing that their giveback team-building program was going to produce an immediate effect the very next day to those individuals in Vietnam created an even more special team activity. With these eight hands being built by Shire, along with other hands that were built by people in the Helping Hands program in Australia, Bill set off to Vietnam with 21 hands.

Sometimes you don’t understand the impact you make in one’s life until you actually see it physically. During Bill’s fitting in Vietnam he was able to see these individuals write for the first time, ride a bike, put their arms around each other – he got to see a “sparkle in their eye.”

Nothing but Joy

Many of the recipients were landmine related amputees, others were farming or work related and a few were congenital birth defects. They were thrilled to receive their new prosthetics and the mood was pure joy as they learned to use the hands. They ended up teaching each other many of the functions of the LN-4 hand. There were several charities, clinics and genuinely gracious people who found the recipients, transported, housed and fed them.

Kahn, a 58-year-old man who lost his arm at 13-years-old was one of the prosthetic hand recipients. When he was 13, he was using a shovel in the fields to dig out copper, iron and pieces of metal that were left over from the Vietnam War. His shovel hit a landmine and when the bomb went off, it took off the bottom half of his left arm.

What Will Your Story Be?

His story is just one of the 6 to 7 million below-elbow amputees in the World. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of helping these individuals, but with the help of you and your company, you can make a big difference in the lives of many. Learn more about the Helping Hands program and our other giveback programs.


vietnam helping hands

vietnam helping hands

vietnam helping hands

When it’s time to plan out your corporate team building program there is one important question you have to ask yourself: “Do you run the meeting or do you bring in an outside facilitator?” To help you with this decision, here are some benefits of using an outside facilitator.

Outside Facilitators know the most effective programs

Many companies think that inspiring passion among their employees is achieved through competitive group games.  This pits employee against employee.  This often backfires bringing out the worst in the participants. Instead of inspiring the teams to work together it further divides them. Many people walk away feeling like the event was a waste of time.

They are unbiased

Another hindrance to team building with and in-house facilitator is there might be some underlying suspicion of bias towards certain employees. The team members might believe there is an unannounced, pre-determined plan. This can cause resentment and hinder the genuine participation and input from the attendees. Your result will be a lack of team buy-in and weak implementation. According to David Wade and Ron Recardo in their book Corporate Performance Management, the best reason to invest in an outside facilitator is to achieve an “unbiased objectivity”.

Corporate facilitators coordinate a group activity for adults without bias to bring out the full potential of the group and the possibilities of their mission. They keep the discussion focused, the team building on track, and encourage team members to act as equals in the process.

They have the experience

Their experience will bring outside of the industry vision. They will ask valuable questions beyond the traditional and normal questions that insiders can’t see or are too afraid to ask. The chances of the group activity for adults’ objective being completed will also be higher. The facilitator is less likely to be distracted by people’s stigma or feelings about the event.

They will organize everything

The event will also be finished in a timely manner. The facilitator will not allow themselves to be distracted from the overarching goals of the team building event.

They will get everyone to participate

The best reason to use an outside facilitator for a group activity for adults is that everyone will get to participate. Each person’s opinion and thoughts will have the chance to be discussed and evaluated equally. From the CEO to the secretary all will be treated equally.As the facilitator creates a non-threatening environment for the event to take place they will also bring up many of issues that the president or fellow employees have been trying to avoid. They will bring the benefit of a dispassionate perspective. They will be able to effectively diffuse arguments and channel intense moments into problem-solving moments.

If you would like to learn more about these Give Back Activities and the impact they can have on your team check out the Helping Hands Project with the Kansas Department of Corrections.

An organizational development need exists in almost every company in the world. Every company wants to increase efficiency and boost production. Achieving this goal has been the focal point of countless upper management meetings. Everything from a retreat to a company picnic has been planned. However, these measures have fallen short of the necessary mark. People are grateful for the food, but production doesn’t necessarily increase afterward.

The top three reasons your organization needs organizational development 

1. Employees aren’t communicating with one another. They often become irritated about work expectations of others.

2. There is a stagnation in work attitudes as many refuse to improve. It is not uncommon for this atmosphere to have a high employee turnover.

3.  Customers are treated poorly, and profits have begun to suffer. This is on account of employees being unchallenged and unmotivated.

Organizational development is a program that plans out and then systematically seeks out to change the beliefs, attitudes, or values of employees for individual, and company growth. These organizational development programs are not an instantaneous fix but a long term company adjustment that can take weeks or months. Some organizational development programs are continuous cycles. This means they are re-implemented every couple of months to constantly improve the company.

Benefits To Filling An Organizational Development Need:

1. Promote Employee Development—As the need of consumers changes so does the marketplace. Your employees need to be able to adapt their skills with changing environments. Part of filling an organizational development need is employee development. This enhancement in employee skill is achieved through a program of training, skills/competency enhancement, and work process improvements.

2. Increased Communication—A direct result of filling an organizational development need is increased communication and feedback within the company. This helps to align everyone within the company of the shared company vision. This open communication also leads to increased understanding of the need for change within the organization.

3. Increased Product & Service Enhancement –Increased communication, and employee development also increase products and service through innovation. As employees develop their abilities their need to innovate new processes will naturally occur. With the open communication developed these ideas will be much more apt to be heard and employees will feel more appreciated.

4. Company Growth—Organizational Development can help manage and plan company growth. One of the aspects of an OD program is to bring together sales projections and consumer demand. This helps determine the rate of company growth. This information is then used to change the business plan, re-appropriate resources, or distribute funds for an expansion.

5. Increased Profits—As the innovation, communication, and productivity increase so does your bottom dollar. Costs are also reduced because of little to no employee turnover and absences. However, the greatest advantage your company will receive is the culture shift towards one of continuous improvement.


There are several ways to guide and inspire your employees during an organizational development program. Corporate team building events like Helping Hands and Life Cycles come with expert Odyssey Teams’ facilitators. In addition, Odyssey Teams offers Give Back Activities with DIY kits so you can facilitate your own successful team building event.

Fill your organizational development need today for greater success tomorrow! Call Odyssey Teams at 1-800-342-1650 or send us a quick email – learn@odysseyteams.com

Giving Back To The Community And Their Team Members Is An Important Part Of AbbVie Pharmaceuticals’ Philosophy

The Research and AbbVie Pharmaceuticals development facility, located in Gurnee, Illinois has been hosting an annual event that recognizes the outstanding members of that facility. This year’s theme was to give back to the community.

Elan Savitt, the Finance Manager for AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, did his part to make sure that this team building event was a success. “Our work in pharmaceuticals is so important,” he says, “It is so dedicated to the people. We wanted an opportunity to give back to the community just as we do with our pharmaceutical drugs.”

When the 180 members of the facility got together they knew it was for an awards ceremony. They had no idea that Savitt had called on Odyssey Teams and the Helping Hands Live program to host a corporate give back activity. The group was divided into teams and each group was told they would be building a prosthetic hand for a landmine victim in a third world country.

Bill John, co-founder of Odyssey Teams, had the pleasure of being the facilitator for the team building event. After the initial introduction, Bill John explained the give back activity the team would participate in. He told them that in order to achieve their goals they would need to communicate, collaborate, and focus on working as a team. His message of ‘deliberate action’ is one that continues to resonate with many participants of this and other give back activities after they have ended.

AbbVie Is Building A Better World

Savitt stated, “It’s about building a better world and finding purpose in everything we do. How do we see past just the individual task and recognize the impact of what we do? Whether it’s to patients, or other companies, or more importantly to indigent people that really need help that we may not recognize.”

After ten minutes of the teams building the LN-4 hands, they were challenged with continuing to build with a koozie on their dominant hand. Teamwork became mandatory. At the end of the team building event, 60 prosthetic hands were assembled and placed inside the carrying cases the teams had designed for them. “I think they are learning to work together as a team,” says Savitt. “How to overcome obstacles, but most importantly, how to be excellent as a group and not as an individual.”

Total Hand Distribution Plus AbbVie’s Contribution

With the conclusion of this corporate team building event, Odyssey Teams has now assembled and distributed over 23,000 hands in over 80 countries. The feeling of giving back to the world community is a feeling that Savitt will call on again in the future. “For anyone who is looking for an event that demonstrates how we matter as individuals. I think this fits the bill one hundred percent.”

Odyssey Teams has several other team building programs they facilitate in their ‘Live’ programs, or if you would like to facilitate your own team building event there are also several do-it-yourself kits like Build-A-Hand, Life Cycles, Or The Playhouse Challenge.

Proper Workplace Training Ensures A Successful Team

Workplace training is vitally important for the success of any company. Sometimes it is difficult to admit that there could be flaws in your training program. One of the best ways to ensure uniform training is to implement a train the trainer class. These classes are for supervisors, trainers, and upper management. They are designed with the company’s values and philosophies in mind. They get everyone on the same page so that the company is moving forward in a positive direction.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons your company should hold a train the trainer class:

1. Expert Knowledge – A train the trainer class, performed by an outside facilitator, makes sure that everyone is an expert in what they are training. Trainers, by default, are perceived as experts and they should be.

2. Expert Training – Knowing your information is the first step, and learning how to convey it is the next. A train the trainers class makes sure that trainers know how to hold strong training sessions. Trainers learn to not only present knowledge but make sure people retain it.

3. Recognize and Evaluate Employee Performances – Experienced trainers will know if employees are using new skills effectively. They will be able to address different types of challenges or special needs that employees may have. After identifying obstacles, trainers will be able to provide your company and employees with solutions to overcome these challenges.

4. Consistency in Work Performances – Once trainers have all attended a train the trainers class they should be training high-quality employees, to further boost productivity and increase retention rates.

5. Improve Employee Retention – Trained trainers will instill a stronger sense of confidence in the employees. They make sure that work does not overwhelm employees because employees are trained properly. These stress reductions lead to long lasting employees and avoid organizational dysfunctions within the company.

In the beginning, you started with a small team, and you had a clear vision.

Every day, you were able to speak with your team and find out everything you needed to know to boost productivity. Since the team was small, it didn’t take much to keep everyone’s energy levels running high. But, success comes with many challenges. As you became more successful, your team grew with it. When it did you had to hand the torch off to others and let them keep your team engaged and enthusiastic. It wasn’t long before the team’s productivity came to a screeching halt. Now, you’re wondering what you need to do to boost productivity again.

Any of this sound familiar?

If so, you can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone. It’s tough keeping larger teams motivated and in the groove. But getting things turned around may be a lot easier than you anticipated.

Is Your Team Focused On Solutions and Outcomes?

When you have a massive team, getting everybody on the same page can be very stressful. With smaller groups, it’s easier to notice when the equilibrium of the group starts to go south. Which makes it easy to do something to boost productivity.

As your business grows, your team will also continue to expand. Since it’s unavoidable, you will need to grow your ability to manage the group right alongside it. One strategy you can put in place is to work on developing outcomes with your team. This is a simple strategy and easy to put in place once you commit to it.

To get started you just start working with your team to focus on providing solutions to problems. We told you it was simple.

Someone named this type of activity “developing outcomes”. But, regardless of what you call it, it has the power to increase the effectiveness of your team. By starting their tasks with the end goal in mind, your team will be more likely to avoid risks which will increase productivity. Not only that, they’ll move much faster towards correct solutions to problems.

Understanding Goals and Outcomes

If you already have a large team, it’s crucial for you to set goals and outcomes for them. While goals are always about targets and results, outcomes are different. An outcome is more about the impact of the results from completing goals. One way to do that is through building something.

How to Boost Productivity the Right Way

Building a great team can be difficult. Many team leaders set up outcomes wrong, which leads to a major drop in productivity. It’s important to remember that individuals be responsible for creating their own outcomes. But they need to be created in ways that mean something to them and to the goals you set for them.

It’s best your team create their outcomes in the first person as if they have already happened. On a subconscious level, setting an outcome in this manner allows it to serve as a GPS. The outcome helps the subconscious mind find ways to fulfill the outcome. Make sure to do your best to avoid being too restrictive when it comes to the outcomes put forth by your team members.

The Details of Every Outcome

There are important components that need to be within every outcome. Each outcome should contain the achievement of goals and difference made and shared values. Outcomes should also contain how each individual contributed to each success. They should also include the impact they made on key stakeholders or customers. Every outcome has to be measurable and then measured.

Why Setting Outcomes Just Makes Sense

Your business will enjoy outcome-based objectives in a variety of ways. For starters, they’ll help to harness the imagination of every member of your team. Not only that they will also further encourage their productive thinking. Setting outcomes also helps everyone involved think about the true impact of their contributions. They can even help to describe the future of your business in successful ways.

The End Result

It won’t take long to realize that the effort you put forth setting outcomes is worth it. If your team isn’t already using it, we encourage you to consider looking more into it. Here’s some more tips that will help get your team produce bigger and better results than they currently are. If you think we have forgotten a tip or two that we should have included in the graphic please let us know by posting below in the comment section.

The proven benefits of team building are numerous. Whether you are inspiring a team of twenty or a group of a 120 team building will have them communicating more effectively and collaborating fluidly as they come to understand the big picture and their place within it. Volunteering has been cited as the number one way to achieve this goal.

Working with professional team building facilitators can help ensure the success of the program by making it relevant to business objectives, corporate and team culture. When combined with activities that give back to the community the results can be profound. There are many give back activities like Odyssey Teams Helping Hands live program,that offer such expert facilitation. Conversely, sometimes companies just want to give back and can’t afford the facilitated approach in which case the “do-it-yourself-kit” option of the Build-A-Hand program may be just what is needed.

The first step in any team building event planning is to establish the when and where. If there are more than a hundred participants for your team building activities then an offsite event might be needed. If there are less than fifty then hosting your event at the office, during working hours, makes for a rewarding experience. Other than the obvious cost saving perk here are a few more benefits of hosting your team building activities at the office.

People’s Time:

People’s time is important to them. Most are not willing to give up their nights and weekends in the pursuit of work events. Planning one of your team building activities during the work day is the best way to get maximum impact for the minimum dollar. Not only is almost everyone in the office, but they all know they are being paid to be there. This sense of compensation gets a much higher participation rate.


Every team has someone who will say team building activities won’t work. Potential skeptics will be less likely to get on board if you schedule the event during the weekend or evening. A few hours on a Friday morning is better than a daylong event on a Saturday for this group.

Team Building Activities Bring Teams Together

Application to Work:

When employees are away from their work they still want to feel like they are being productive. The lessons they learn during the team building activities should be applicable to their jobs. At the end of the event, you want everyone to walk away feeling empowered, or invigorated, about working for the company. Hosting the event at work will help reinforce the connection that the team building event is creating.

Event Etiquette:

Hosting your event off site can be fun, but it also ushers in a different social protocol. Personalities can be very different once you get some people outside of the office. The best way to avoid a negative team building activity is to keep the rule of thumb that you don’t want anything to happen you can’t do at work. Hosting it at work makes sure that doesn’t happen.

Participant Comfort:

Many co-workers feel uncomfortable when they are thrust together in an offsite situation. This discomfort is generally counterproductive to your overall goal. The workplace is comfortable. Most people spend at least forty hours a week of their life in that office or building. They are familiar with the layout of the building and the expectations of professionalism. Their car is also only fifteen yards away.

After undergoing a very large corporate restructure, Schneider Electric, a global leader in energy management, needed a way to bring its upper management team together. The CEO was introduced to Odyssey Teams and our corporate values that we represent. There was an immediate connection as the CEO was looking for the same corporate values to permeate through his company.

Inspirational Team Building Step By Step

Our Helping Hands give back activity challenges participants to construct the LN-4 prosthetic hand. Team building challenges prove to be difficult enough with communication and collaboration. Our facilitators like to make sure no two events are the same -for this build’s challenge Bill John, Odyssey Teams co-founder, had everyone put a Koozie over their dominant hand after ten minutes of building. Teams overcame this obstacle by working together. Some would hold the parts while others would turn the screwdriver.

Team Building Testimonial of Helping Hands Live

Don Wingate, Vice President of Sales of Schneider Electric’s Utility Segment said, “There was a lot of joy in making those hands for people, but it made so much more that it was about teamwork and it was about integrity and the teamwork is getting groups of people together to do something good for someone else. That really made me think about myself and the people I’m working with on a day to day basis do something good for our customers, doing something good for the business, and doing something good for yourself.”

Once all of the hands had been assembled and the carry bags decorated, the group reassembled for the debriefing. Everyone was told before the activity that the hands would be donated to land mine victims around the world. As the participants sat down for the debriefing they really began to connect with what they just did. In order to implement good team building skills, you have to have a positive attitude about what you’re doing and the direction you are going. Everyone involved felt that their actions were going to be of benefit, and our goal was to take that momentum back to their day to day jobs.

A sense of purpose and drive for accomplishment is what makes a good team. Tim Baker, a Chicago Branch Manager with Schneider Electric, was moved by the team building event. His child was born without fingers on one hand, “Because I knew what this [hand] can do. I had this sense of purpose. This sense of compassion. This sense of empathy in what we’re doing during the project and it just changed the whole sense of work. I was never frustrated. There was a sense of joy in the work at the table.”

Life Cycles is a Team Building Event to Increase Collaboration

Life Cycles is the original bike building team building program that changed an industry. This team building event creates the potential to change the way we look at the world and ourselves. Team bonds are formed, collaboration increases and communication lines are wide open.

It is no secret that in order to provide great customer service you need a great team. You may have the most solid mission statement in the world. However, if your team loses sight of that mission then meeting your company goals becomes very difficult and team building becomes very important.

A give back activity is one of the best ways to inspire your team, and promote a positive brand image. Whether you choose to use the facilitators at Odyssey Teams or use the DIY Life Cycles kit, this team building activity will reinvigorate your team.

A give back activity is one of the best ways to inspire your team, and promote a positive brand image. Whether you choose to use the facilitators at Odyssey Teams or use the DIY Life Cycles kit, this team building activity will reinvigorate your team.

Each Life Cycles program is unique and tailored to the specific values and organizational goals of your company. An Event Organizer or Odyssey Teams facilitator plans out our team building event in advance.

Each facilitated team building event begins with Odyssey Teams’ trademark interviews. During this process, teams get to know each other’s definitions of collaboration, trust, and information exchange. This gives many of the team members benchmarks for the rest of the activity.

The “Life Cycles” are separated up by the different steps in building the Diamondback Bikes. This is where many of the personalities come out. Is there someone who grabs for the instructions and reads them first? Does someone push everybody out of the way claiming to have just recently built a bike? These people might get the job done, but how well are they prepared for the next challenge?

The biggest team growth comes when participants put into action the concepts they’ve learned. There is no transition without application. After assembly, we bring in the real critics to practice customer service – the children.

Children from the local Boys & Girls Clubs of America come in and the teams get to give their bike to a child. The teams interact with the children for fifteen minutes and during that time is when many of the participants become aware of their interactions. Their focus shifts from their own selves, to a little boy or girl. The team members gain a renewed desire to do for others in a way they had not known possible.

Charlie Shaver, Axalta Chairman and CEO said, “Odyssey has provided a great opportunity to partner with the non-profit sector and the community during our global leadership meeting. Axalta benefits from the team building that goes into putting the bicycles together. The kids get to keep the bicycles we’ve built. Everyone wins.”

Co-Founder and COO of Odyssey Teams, Lain Hensley, explains, “We use bike building to provide global executives with a hands-on opportunity to improve their teamwork. The exercise transcends culture and language as well as the day to day roles that participants have in their organizations. The surprise donation at the end of the session then converts a company exercise into a gift for the community and a memory that participants keep for years to come.” Some of our other programs like Helping Hands and The Playhouse Challenge can also harness the same growth within your team.

Steve Sorensen, CEO of The Select Family of Staffing Companies said, “Perhaps our staff was expecting to fall backward into their co-workers’ arms, but we were tasked with assembling bicycles, just like the night before Christmas. We were delighted to learn that the Life Cycles program bikes were going to kids from the Boys & Girls Club who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford one.”

Service-Based Team Building Helps Your Company’s Image

Whether you’re a supervisor, manager, or company owner, Odyssey Teams knows you are always on the look-out for new ways to open up the lines of communication and build a better team. There are a multitude of team building games, activities, and seminars to take advantage of, but if you want to inspire your team to greatness then there is nothing better than a community service-based team building experience. Philanthropic activities partner with non-profit organizations to make a difference in the community surrounding your business.

The list of benefits is endless for a community service-based team building experience.

  • Bridge the gap between business and communities
  • Address real community needs — make an impact!
  • Socially responsible contribution to the local community
  • Enhance your company’s image as a good corporate citizen
  • Elevate employee or client pride
  • Provide employees with a fun and rewarding experience
  • Enhance communication skills, teamwork, and problem-solving through real-life situations
  • Provide real-life experiences that motivate employees
  • Provide the most rewarding and unifying tasks a team can undertake

According to Bhaskar Thyagarajan, co-founder of BlueSky Learning, “The END GOAL of a GREATER GOOD of a larger audience has the power to make us think less about personal gains & motivations.” The act of giving back helps people forget their own desire to rise to the top and pull together for a common goal.

If this the direction you would like to take your team building event then here are a few options that you can take advantage of.

Life Cycles- Building Bicycles For Boys and Girls Club

Life Cycles is a philanthropic activity that brings together groups of three or four to assemble bicycles for children in need. Communication is enhanced as team members get to know one another in a different situation. We bring in the children from the local Boys and Girls club and the teams get to meet and interact with the child that will receive the bike they just assembled.

The Playhouse Challenge – Constructing Playhouses for Individuals and Organizations

The Playhouse Challenge brings together a group of ten to fifteen to construct and decorate a five-foot tall playhouse. The teams are assigned task roles such as safety inspector, designer, and, engineer. After building, recipients of the playhouses are brought in and they get to enjoy the playhouse your team assembled.

Helping Hands – Assemble a Prosthetic Hand to Be Donated To An Amputee

Helping Hands is a team building activity with a far-reaching effect. Teams are broken into groups of four and then each member has a hand bound behind their back. They then must work in teams to assemble an LN-4 prosthetic hand. The hands will then be donated to amputees in third world countries who would not otherwise be able to afford this costly medical device.

There are many other community-based service team building activities like volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping at a veterans establishment, or a pet shelter. View some of our DIY team building kits.

Good team management skills build trust and retain employees. There is a distinct difference between a leader and a manager, though the two titles do overlap. Warren G Bennis defined the two terms as such, “Leaders are people who do the right things; managers are people who do things right.”

If a manager is to do things right, then they must first work on trust. Building trust is essential for a team to perform productively. Whether you’re building a new team or inheriting an already existing one, as a manager, you want to build trust quickly. Here are a few team management skills to help build trust quickly.

Explain Roles and Goals Clearly and Definitively

Stray away from any misunderstandings between you and your team when it comes to work performance. Each role should be clearly defined with time tables so that people have a rough idea of how long a task should take. Clearly define your role as well – your team needs to know what they can expect of you. Laying all your workplace cards on the table in the beginning helps with quickly building trust between you and your team.

Match the Right People with the Right Task

Matching an individual with a job that they either like or are confident in shows that you understand them as a person, their limitations, and their strengths. Employees trust and respond in a positive manner if they know that their manager has a clear perspective of who they are in the work place.

Develop Your Team

Developing your team will be what dictates your long-term success in the company. Some employees need a lot of managerial feedback while others are a little more self-guided and simply look to expand their knowledge. It’s imperative that you understand your team and help them become better at what they do. As a leader, you want to aspire to be a manager that your team can trust and will want to work for.

Actively Listen

Problems are easy to contain as they arise if you actively listen to your team instead of predicting what they are going to say next. This trust building skill is probably the most important. If you are not actively listening to your employees, they won’t feel that they are being heard correctly which can result in resentment and lack of trust.

Ensure Group Discussion Participation

Be sure to invite suggestions from each member of the team during group discussion. Each person needs to feel that their input is valued towards the team’s end goals. When giving each team member a chance to speak you will build trust amongst the group and they’ll feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Exude Confidence

Confidence is a learned trait like any other – it comes from knowing yourself and your team management skills. Knowing your strengths helps your team reach success. Knowing and accepting your weaknesses creates a transparency with your team which results in more trust.

Once you have established trust among your team, maintain cohesion with a philanthropic activity or other kind of team building event. This will further open the lines of communication.

Virtual team building is a task with its own set of hurdles and triumphs. Defining goals, roles, and a good rhythm is hard enough when you interact face-to-face. However, virtual teams have even bigger hurdles to jump with a difference of time zones, countries, and oceans between members.

If you are leading a virtual team or are planning to, here are four tips to help make your communication smoother and more effective during your virtual team building process.

1. Set the virtual team tone

As the leader for your virtual team, the tone you use in meetings and emails sets the tone for the rest of the team. Make sure that you use a warm, approachable tone. Julia Young, Vice President of Facilitate.com says that being “well prepared for team meetings will result in a positive, calm demeanor and a good demonstration of active listening — all of which will have a lasting positive impact on your team.” Undermining the team with short, snippy remarks serves only to defeat the productivity you are trying to increase.

2.Inclusion is vital

In order to feel a part of a team, people need to feel included. Maintaining company-wide meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with your team members is the first step in making everyone feel included. Other ways to build cohesion into a team is to celebrate individual member achievements, or group accomplishments, by announcing them in team meetings.  You can also thank them profusely on any open forum boards the team is using to communicate.

3.Informal conversation is necessary

Naturally, we are social creatures. Informal conversation is a way for us to get to know each other beyond the roles defined by work. Virtual team building can include simple things. There should be a virtual water cooler for your team to gather around where they are free to discuss matters beyond the topic of work. You can encourage the team to post by typing out questions for the team to answer like “Who is the best super hero?” or “What important event happened today?” or “What goals do you want to have accomplished in ten years?” Make sure the conversations aren’t all business all the time.

4.Be available

It is your job to be there for your team. According to Professor of Managing People in Organizations at IESE Business School, Sebastian Reiche, this is the most important tip. Virtual team members can sometimes feel isolated – sometimes spending up to ten hours a day by themselves. Stay in regular contact with your team and don’t make it all about work. Try to ask them about their day, mood, or even social life. Make sure you can be contacted through multiple channels. If you do get left a message, try to respond as quickly as possible. You should never show absence to your team.

There are a number of virtual team building activities you can take advantage of as team lead. You can host a webinar where each member of your team is given one of Odyssey Teams Helping Hands Team Building ProgramOdyssey Team’s Helping Hands. They will be able to give advice to one another during the construction of the LN-4 prosthetic hand. You can also team build with Bingo. Mail everyone a bingo card and call out number throughout the day. Team members can then email everyone else “Bingo” in the headline when they win. A final way to bring teams together is to mail them each a gift, or card, and have them all open them at the same time on a video conference.

Virtual team building is becoming more and more common. Learning how to interact with them on a positive, personal level will make sure they continue working towards the common goal of a better company.

If you’ve never hosted a team building process you may be asking yourself, “Is this even worth it? Will a team building activity solve any of my problems?” The answer is, “yes.” Many feel that the term “team building” is just a buzz word tossed around to encourage employees. When in actuality team building is the backbone of a productive team.

The main goal of any team building event is to improve productivity and motivation among employees. By taking your employees out of the office you are promoting the elimination of political and personal barriers. This also eliminates distractions and encourages a fun atmosphere.

There are several benefits associated with team building activities. They include the improvement of morale and leadership skills. Company goals and objectives become clearly defined while processes, procedures, and organizational productivity are all improved. A team’s strengths and weaknesses are more clearly defined. People identify the barriers to creativity and problem solving is improved. As the event planner, you can take advantage of all of these benefits or only a few of them.

Define your goals clearly for benefits to be effective

It’s important to clearly define the goals of your team building activity. Lindsay Olson from U.S. News and World Report has these considerations to offer when helping establish an event’s overall goals.

  • What is the team climate? Is it hostile? Indifferent?
  • How much will management be involved? (Support from them encourages the team building)
  • How long will the event take?
  • Where will it take place?
  • Outside consultants can help identify which team problems need addressing.
Benefits of team building: the statistics

It’s easy to read about the benefits of team building on paper or imagine the outcome of the event in your head. Team building is known to foster better communication between employees as well as improving employees motivation and trust.

Alex “Sandy” Pentland, the director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program, decided to quantify these metrics to establish what it takes to create a productive team. Her team utilized lapel buttons that collect data, over six weeks, for more than a hundred points. Data included voice inflection, body language, who they talked to, and for how long.

These experiments proved that good communication is crucial to maintaining a good team. Alex states “we found that the best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings.”

Alex’s team was asked to help a bank’s call center. The manager wanted to know why some teams succeed when similar teams could not. After the six weeks, Alex and her team recommended that the manager schedule everyone’s coffee breaks at the same time. It would allow people more time to socialize away from their workstations. Once this mass coffee break began the manager began to see a 20% decrease in average handling time (AHT the industry standard for call centers) among poorly performing teams and an overall drop of 8%. The manager has now changed the coffee break schedule at all of the call centers.

Facilitating a team building event is a difficult juggling act. Especially if you are the one here to train the trainer. You want to keep everyone’s energy excited as they move towards the goal of communication, but your presence can’t overwhelm the process. Then you’d be just another lecture.

Finding that balance can be a difficult task, but establishing a concrete goal from the beginning of the planning process will make this a much easier process. This goal is usually established with a sit down meeting between you and the management team or the direct supervisor. In this meeting, you should have a great number of questions answered.

Below you will find a list of tips for facilitators to help you bring together the perfect event.

The two most important questions to have answered are 1. What are the larger issues as work? i.e. communication, motivation, or production, and 2. What specific outcomes would they like to see? If you are the supervisor in charge then you need to analyze your team’s characteristics and formulate a plan on how you would like to train the trainer and mitigate them.

As you continue to plan out the activities it’s important to receive feedback from the members of the team that will be included in the team building event.  As a facilitator, you don’t want the games to be considered trite or pointless by your team. Asking your team’s opinion shows you value their input. Newer teams may have to be shown a list of options.

Center the activity, and icebreakers, around a theme that reinforces the goals and values of the company. Themes like giving back, community awareness/involvement, innovative problem solving are some good themes to use. Activities like Odyssey Teams Helping Hands, and the Board Meeting help to bring teams together through philanthropic give-back activities and promote social awareness.

Present and practice the team building activity before the event. As a facilitator, you should be proficient about the rules, instructions, and applications of the games, or main activity. Having a dry run with just a few people can help foresee any complications that could arise when you are trying to facilitate an event with fifty for more participants.

After you have clearly presented the goals, and began the activity, it is time to use the most successful tip for facilitators, become invisible. Ask poignant questions and let the participants engage one another. This is their team after all, and they should be the ones to form the bonds that will ultimately lead to a more motivated workplace.

De-briefing is the single most important moment in the events facilitation. It is here where all the dots are connected for you and your employees. During this time is when the participants process their actions, feelings, and responses to the entire team building event. After you’ve presented your end goals it is time to hear from the team.

Staff Introduction Ideas Breakdown Communication Barriers

Staff Introduction ideas cover a wide array of games, activities, and team building events. Each one is geared towards a different objective. Many staff introduction ideas are designed towards new staff members getting to know each other, or getting to know current staff members, but they can also be used for staff to reintroduce themselves.

Build Stronger Teams Sith Staff Introduction Ideas

A company’s staff can change over time in more than one way. Even if they have been with the company for quite awhile an employee’s likes, dislikes, and dreams change as they live out their lives. That’s why it’s a good idea to use these staff introduction ideas on a regular basis. (Every six months) So, the staff can get reacquainted with itself and new members can be introduced.

Another staff introduction idea to consider is introducing senior management. It can be new employees meeting senior management, or a newly installed senior management meeting an existing company. Either way, it’s a good idea to have an introduction activity on hand.

Better employee interaction is the direct result of your staff collaborating. They are making sure to get to know one another and staying in touch with each other. This promotes a positive work place where individuals are more apt to ask for help or offer help when it’s needed.

Groups Work Harder If Everyone Knows Each Other

These staff introduction events are good for the management to stay in touch with their team. This helps to break down the ‘boss wall’ that keeps so many individuals from approaching their superiors in times of need.

Below you will find a list of some great staff introduction ideas that can handle all of these introduction events.

Scavenger Hunt

This staff introduction idea works within all levels of a company. It centers around information about individuals without getting too personal. Break the staff up, including senior management if available, into groups of three of four. Then hand out the scavenge sheet. The object of the game is to mark off as many of the descriptions as the group can. These descriptions can be anything like: find someone who has been Africa, find someone who has a cat and a dog, find someone who has never been the beach. The list is endless, but try to choose descriptions that people don’t mind sharing about themselves. Be sure to have members of the group move around the room so groups interact with one another.

Two Lies And A Truth

This is a particularly fun staff introduction idea for senior management to play when introducing themselves to their staff. A person writes down two lies and a truth. They then stand up and present this to the group. It is then the group’s job to determine which one is the lie. You can also have the presenter say why the lie was a lie.


Tell Me Something Good Kick Off

This is one of the best staff introduction ideas for new management that wants to get to know the staff better. Hand out a piece of paper to everyone in the room. Have each person write something good about another person’s profession or job performance that’s in the room. Then fold up the notes and redistribute them. As each person takes turns reading the notes the group must try and figure out who the note is about. This does a good job of highlighting people’s abilities so a manager knows each person’s strengths.

Want to know more about the best ways to build better teams? Contact team building industry experts at Odyssey Teams by email or phone: 800 – 342-1650

Classroom Teamwork Activities Bring Students Together

Classroom teamwork activities can overcome the stale feeling school can create as students make their way through the semester. But more importantly, it can help students learn to relate and support one another to achieve a common goal.

Things like peer interaction, applied concepts, and team building are pushed to the way side for the more traditional power point guided “chalk and talk” style of teaching. This educational style is still vital for the school experience, but teachers need to make sure that students are engaging with one another in meaningful ways and not necessarily just with their friends.

Classroom teamwork activities is the best way to build interpersonal communication

Breaking students up into groups and having them work together towards a common goal gives each student a chance to be heard. Without teacher involvement they solve the challenge by discussing various strategies, communicating their ideas, and putting their plans into action. This kind of team work is where students come to understand each other better and communicate interpersonally.

Classroom teamwork activities get students working together to make decisions based on creative thinking, communication, and collaboration. Here are three of these activities to get your classroom working together towards the common goal of teamwork.

  1. Teams That Build Together Stay Together

    If you build it…..

This is the most flexible of the classroom teamwork activities. After you have broken the students into groups you give each one the same set of materials such as blocks, pipe cleaner, marshmallows, dried spaghetti, glue or tape. The goal is to work together in order to build. The end goal and parameters are both variables. Teachers can have everyone build a sturdy building or castle. See which team can replicate a famous statue, or build the tallest, most stable, structure. A variation on this game would be to have a community pile of materials for all the teams to use. There are several kits to use for this activity such as Odyssey Teams Helping Hands, or Life Cycles Program. This game encourages communication and problem-solving.

  1. Minefield

Classrooms are generally smaller than your average corporate give back activity. So, you can employ games that require quiet and concentration. This game works in pairs. Teachers place various obstacles across an open area. (You may have to move some desks.) Then blindfold one student and the other student guides the blindfolded student through the minefield using just their voice. Don’t maintain time. The objective is cooperation and not competition. This activity incorporates communication and trust building.

  1. It’s A Mystery

This is one of the most enjoyable classroom teamwork activities for all ages. Teachers create a mystery and a set of numbered mystery clues. Give each student a set of clues that they can’t let each other read. They must present and then discuss their clues to one another. You can either imagine your own mystery or use these examples >Murder Mystery or Bank Robbery Mystery. This team building activity builds problem solving and communication.

Each one of these classroom teamwork activities requires no timer and one shouldn’t be used. Nor should you give out any prizes for fastest or strongest. Instead, the focus of the discussion should be on HOW the teams solved each problem. Take the time to highlight how each team went about its creative process in order to accomplish the goal. By pointing out these positive ideas students begin to flourish from the inside out.

Large Group Team Building Events Open Up Communication

A company’s productivity and success is built on its ability to effectively build trust, communicate, and laugh together. However, if your company is larger than 75 people getting them all laugh to at the same time can be a difficult task.

Planning a philanthropic give back activity is the perfect way to promote exciting communication that ultimately leads to the productivity a company is seeking. These activities bring large groups of people together and allow them to give back to the community.

When bringing together a large group of people for such an event here are a few tips to help you get prepared so that everyone will receive the maximum impact of the give back activity.

There is more to consider with a large group team building event

One of the first things to consider is the current “team climate”? Are there any hostile interactions between team members? Or perhaps indifferent? These considerations should be thought about early in the planning stage. It will guide you to decide which give back activity is right for your team.

As you continue planning your event you might want to think about having the give back activity at your company’s location. Getting a group of 75 or larger to gather in any other sight will be difficult. Especially, since it is not a mandated activity like a day at work is.

One Of The Smiles From A Large Group Team Building Activity

Hiring a facilitator, or a group like Odyssey Teams, to help with your large group team building event would be ideal. As one person within a company, you may not know everyone at the event. Those you do know might be attentive, but those you don’t might be put off by the distance between the two of you. With a facilitator, everyone is equally distanced from him or her.

Frequent short breaks will also have to be considered throughout the team building event. With such a large group everyone will have different needs at different times. Instead of trying to address them all its better to just give people the open option multiple times.

Schedules that are easy to read and everywhere are a must for these large group team building events. The best way to keep everyone interactive is by letting them know what is coming up. People don’t like to just wait and see what happens during these things. They want to know what’s happening every minute of the day.

One of the most effective ways to build teams within a large group is to have mini team activities. You will want to assign people to teams so as to work out problems of communication within their unit. There are a multitude of activities such as treasure map, have a scavenger hunt, host A Board Meeting, build prosthetic hands as a group, or even assemble bicycles with The Life Cycles program. Each of these activities require the participation of all the team members. By pooling their resources they will have to communicate effectively to get the goal accomplished.

As your large group team building event comes to an end one of the best ways to energize a large group is by introducing them to the recipients of their hard work. With programs like The Life Cycles, or The Playhouse Challenge your team is given the chance to interact with the children who will receive either the bike or the playhouse.

This memory of personal interaction is the most impactful and it gives large groups of 100+ a common footing to open up dialogues between each other. They all have a memory that gets them to smile and laugh with one another.

Good Team Building Means Good Communication

Tips for Team Building in the work-place in order to keep the lines of communication open.

Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial for a team to maintain its energy and its efficiency. Though many employees may roll their eyes at the idea of a team building activity they have been shown to increase communication among co-workers, creating a more relaxing work atmosphere that ultimately leads to more efficient work production.

Many companies implore corporate give back activities, but due to the size of their company, many CEOs will hold an annual team building event. This helps to establish lines of communications, but it does little to maintain them throughout the rest of the year.

First Tip for Team Building: Work on it every day

Without even trying to we build friendships and relationships in the work place. You will often see the same people go to lunch together. Friendships aren’t always good for the workplace. They can cause resentment or even riffs between other co-workers.

The point of team building activities is not to eliminate these relationships, but to try and get them to form between all of your co-workers. Team building activities are the perfect way to help others form these trusted lines of communication and keep them open. Team building does not always have to happen in a large setting. You can build your team in a one to one setting.

So, each day you will want to take a moment to either hold a small team building event or interact with each one of your co-workers. Give them a chance to say something about themselves and be sure to listen to what they are saying. Even the most mundane of conversations can turn into trusted advice.

Team Building Gets The Pieces To Fit

Second Tip for Team Building: Don’t call it a team building event

Maybe once a week, without any warning, call your team into a meeting and hand each one a memo outlining the team building activity they are about to engage in. This will get them all onto the same page of communication without giving them a chance to roll their eyes.

They can ask questions after the initial paper briefing, but you want to jump right into the program. Once they are involved you want to keep them involved especially because the activity should only be for fifteen minutes. They still need to get back to work.

These small group activities give your co-workers an opportunity to build shared memories that they can later recall and laugh about on break, or around the water cooler. By giving them a solid mutual memory you are enabling them to begin building lasting relationships.

Final Tip for Team building: Make it fifteen minutes of fun

There are a multitude of games that you can play in fifteen minutes. You will want to find games that encourage collaboration, not competition, and are accessible by all. Such as “Heads Up”, which is an interactive game where one member of the team holds a cellphone to their head with a word or phrase on it and the rest of the team gets them to try to guess it without saying the word or phrase. Or “Two Truths And A Lie” is a game where one participant writes down to correct statements and one false one. It is the job of the group to try and guess which one is the false one.

Innovative Trust Activities Help More Than Just The Company

In today’s business world trust is a crucial component. Trust between client and businesses are important, but even more important is the trust between employer and employee. In a recent study, Watson Wyatt found that only two out of five employees have trust in the executives in an organization.

One of the largest problems that managers have faced is that they can’t just instill trust among their team. Even when all of the individuals know what to do and how to do it trust still doesn’t form itself. Research has shown trust is the foundation for creating a healthy work environment.

Trust building activities can be the foundation for successful employer/employee relations

The Helping Hands Project Presentation

Trust building activities and team building strategies have become a common place as many employers have tried their best to solve this issue of mistrust among their associates. Several trust building activities have come about in the pursuit of employer-employee trust.

Circle of friends, or Willow in the Wind, is a variation on the trust fall. Participants stand in a circle around a single person. This person falls back only to be caught by the circle. They are then passed from side to side in the circle.

Touch the can wants to build trust by breaking personal boundaries. This game has ten different people touch a coffee can with a different part of their body. Minefield blindfolds one participant while another one tries to walk them through a designated area without touching any of the “mines.”

While these games do use the imagination many participants are left feeling awkward and wondering why they are participating. Others want to know how these trust building activities relate to work. They can trust someone not to drop them during the team building event, but what about in the rest of the business world.

An LN-4 Prosthetic Hand

Odyssey Teams has taken a new approach to trust building activities and innovated a way to bring associates together. Helping Hands Project and The Playhouse Challenge both help to build trust among your employees while bringing them together for a common goal they can all agree upon.

Helping Hands Project is a trust building activity where groups of four or five build an LN-4 prosthetic hand. The challenge to this give-back activity is each participant has to bind one of their hands so they can’t use it anymore. Participants learn to work together for such scenarios as turning a screw, or installing the fingers. One person has to be trusted to hold the hand securely while the other person is trusted to turn the screwdriver.

A Completed Playhouse

The Playhouse Challenge is a give back activity for groups of ten to twelve. Your team assembles a five-foot tall four-foot wide playhouse. Before the build begins each person is assigned a task i.e. safety officer, design manager, etc. You then trust that your teammates will take their job serious enough to pass the final inspection.

Each of these trust building activities builds trust through interpersonal relationships. The team members begin to trust one another because they are doing more than catching each other. They are taking responsibility for their actions and accepting the outcome good or bad.

It is the wrap up that makes these give-back activities so innovative. Both of these stretch the limits of the imagination, break personal boundaries, and bring teams together because of the shared experience they have in giving away the product they just built.

The prosthetic hands are given to landmine victims, or amputees, in third world countries. These people would not otherwise be able to receive this life changing device. The playhouses are given to children’s organizations and individuals who would not be able to afford one otherwise. This emotional connection of philanthropy is what cements the foundation of trust for so many participants. They take it back to their offices and remember what they did for a lifetime.

Start The Day With A Few Tips For Team Building

Clear communication is a crucial element for effective corporate team building. The first tip for team building to better communication is to accurately define the word team. A team is not just a group of people each fulfilling their duties. An efficient and productive team is the result of feeling a part of something larger than themselves. The bigger picture drives a team members actions. A team members actions are to serve the bigger picture. These are all principles that are brought about in give-back activities like Helping Hands, or The Board Meeting.

Below are a 5 tips for team building to better communication

1. Be aware how you work: David Grossman Communication Expert says, “Since we communicate whether we want to or not, it’s in our best interest to get good at it”. As the team leader you should not only make team course corrects, but self-course corrections as well. Be critical as you evaluate yourself. Are you being as effective as you think? How well is the team accepting your attempts?

Effective Communication Starts With Leadership

2. Understand your employees and clearly define their roles: Get to know your team and their talents. Make sure each team member has a role that is best suited to their abilities. Establishing a common goal is an important key to good team building for communication. According to a survey on Inc.com 48% of management does not effectively communicate business strategies to employees in a way in which they could ‘live it in their daily lives.’ Be sure each member of the team knows there specific role and what is expected of them. You should also make sure the team knows why it exists. This will help the team members understand their importance in the overall company vision. Odyssesy Teams The Playhouse Challenge focuses specifically on this point.

3. Build trust through face time communication: One on one time in an atmosphere of openness and honesty is the next step to building a team based on communication. Many companies employ technological interactions, but the value of a face to face interaction leaves a lasting impression on team members. You should also allow employees to build trust with one another through open communication in a group atmosphere. Friday lunches are an ideal way for employees to talk freely looking for new ways to connect with one another.

4. Encourage sharing and open communication through online tools: Once trust has been established with personal interactions work related information should flow between team members through online tools and message boards. This avoids unnecessary meetings and gives the team member a chance to respond in a time that suits their schedule. For many this tip for team building is the most important.

The Results Of Teamwork Are Amazing

5. Feedback is simply the art of great communication. If your team building for communication then you team has a clear idea of their roles, they trust one another, and they are sharing openly. Feedback is the result of team members feeling comfortable to praise one another and help each other make improvements. As a leader feedback should become part of your natural dialogue. Be able to give out formal and informal feedback. If it becomes too stiff it will lose the authenticity and its impact.

Since you are the example and it falls on you to communicate what should be proper team building etiquette be ready to receive feedback from your team. A good leader builds trust by being able to receive positive and negative feedback like anybody else. These tips for team building and techniques have a 20% more likelihood to have less employee turnover than those companies that don’t effectively communicate.

Corporate team building events benefit everyone.


The way society views charity and donations have changed drastically over the last six decades. Once upon a time we would just throw a few pennies into a UNICEF box, or purchase a few Girl Scout cookies and know good was happening. Even companies just had to give a small portion of their profits.

Now, corporate donations have given way to corporate give back activities. These philanthropic corporate team building seminars have taken center stage with a bright light and a script of data to follow.

More and more Fortune 500 companies have begun to embrace these engaging events for a variety of reasons.

Here are the top three reasons Fortune 500 companies are paying for corporate team building

  1. Boosting Brand and Name Recognition– According to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.
    Many corporate team building activities like Odyssey Team’s Helping Hands, or Life Cycles bring a corporate group together, but in the end, the product they build like the LN-4 prosthetic hand is donated to someone in need. Once these donations have been advertised 88%, nearly nine in ten, consumers feel a responsibility to purchase products they think are socially and environmentally responsible.
  2. Improving Quality of Life– By getting involved in corporate team building activities like Odyssey Team’s The Playhouse Challenge, or The Board Meeting your company gives back to the surrounding area. The company can give in the form of playhouses for under privileged kids, or a group of skateboards to the local Boys and Girls club. Either way this improves the quality of life in the community around the corporate headquarters or where a business sells its goods. This improves the way of life for consumes and the company’s workforce present and future.
    By giving back to the local community local government will take note of these good deeds and might become more lenient with future zoning regulations and laws. Diana Blankman, the senior director for U.S. corporate giving and social impact said, “Novo Nordisk’s commitment to social responsibility and to serving people and communities in need is at the heart of everything we do.”

    A corporate team building event for The Board Meeting

  3. Driving Recruitment and Retention– A Net Impact survey found that 45% of students would be willing to take a 15% pay cut in order to work for companies that make a social or environmental impact. Corporate team building activities give back to the areas of the community that people feel most passionate about. This passion translates into an employees work as many of them are proud to say they work for a company whose beliefs are in line with their personal beliefs and values.
    This alignment is what retains many of a company’s employees. Jonathan Copulsky, principal at Deloitte Consulting, explains that employees are “tremendously passionate about giving back” at an organization with a “long legacy of making an impact.”

91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause given comparable price and quality. Corporate team building is no longer an optional activity for companies looking to increase their return on investment. It is a necessity for companies looking to stay on the Fortune 500 list.

Group activities for adults getting teams built.

In theory, any corporate entity is a team working harmoniously towards a common goal, but team building challenges and problems will always arise. If you’ve ever been a manager, or are one now, you know that often times keeping people on track requires more work than it took to put the team together.

Team Building Challenges Managers Have To Face

There is a myriad of team building challenges that a manager has to overcome in order to keep their team’s productivity going. Here are just a few of the problems a corporate team encounters on a daily basis and a couple of tips on how to overcome them.

The first problem that many teams face is being fragmented. The team is no longer cohesive. They have taken sides on various issues. This polarization is a direct result of a lack of leadership, or someone is trying to take over the leadership position. As the manager, the first step you would want to take is to reaffirm your position in the group and remain involved. You should also talk to the new subgroups separately to identify their feelings and needs.

Another team building challenge that many managers face is having an unmotivated team or a team that is not producing. Both of these problems stem from a lack of human relations skills and communications. As a manager, you will want to explicit detail out the expectations of each of your members. Remind the group of their collective nature and tasks. You can also remind of them of the rewards associated with the work. Remember to give rewards to the whole group and not individuals. This could fragment the group again.

A third problem that can be detrimental to team building is having one person dominate the entire team or one person who won’t say anything. Generally, if you have one person dominating the group then it is an experienced individual working with less experienced ones. They feel their voice to be more important. This person deserves their accolades and should be praised lightly. As a manager, you would want to suggest they put any extra ideas into writing so as not to imbalance team meetings. If you’re having the reverse effect than you would want to praise the shy individual until they felt comfortable enough to talk in meetings.

One of the larger team building challenges is over dependency on the team leader. This is a direct result of a manager not empowering their team and being too involved in the process. You should take the time to reaffirm the team’s goals and what your position is within the team. Encourage your team to come up with solutions without relying on your involvement.

Communication and Team Building Challenges

Many of these team building challenges can be resolved by taking the time to answer a few questions about goals, roles, and relationships. For example, What is the team’s mission or purpose? How will team members be helped and held accountable for their tasks? How will relationships be formed and maintained within the team. There is a list of questions to answer.

Once you’ve taken the time to collect this information it is your job to communicate. Make sure that you don’t just orate well. Make sure the team hears, understands, and is empowered by the values and messages you are trying to communicate.

There are several organizations to help you define these values and communicate them to your team through a series of volunteering give back activities.

Icebreakers start with a single person.

Icebreaker games make a great introduction for corporate team building activities such as Odyssey Teams Life Cycles. Before picking out the icebreaker game you should have already clearly defined the objective of the icebreaker session. Make sure you know what kind of ice you are breaking such as status, perception, or introduction. After you’ve worked out the logistics now it’s time to pick out an icebreaker or two. Here are five of the most popular icebreakers to help get your corporate team building underway.

Our Top 5 Icebreaker Games

  1. All Together Now. This icebreaker fosters communication by finding a common ground amongst the participants. Start by dividing the participants into groups of three or four. Then have each participant talk about their likes, dislikes, and their life for ten minutes. The goal is to have each group to find three things in common amongst everyone in the group. Things like enjoying the same movie, or eating particular styles of food turn out to be very common.
  2. The Human Web. This game focuses on the interdependencies that a team has and how we relate to one another. The facilitator holds the end of the yarn and passes the rest of the ball to the first person. That person says their name and their role within the organization. Then they hand the ball of yarn to the next person. That person introduces themselves and then says how they relate to other person (or expects to relate to them). When the facilitator pulls on the yarn at the end everyone’s hands will move.
  3. 2 Truths and a Lie. Depending on the size of your team you can do this icebreaker as a whole, or break up into smaller groups. This icebreaker focuses on getting to know everyone else on a personal level. Each person takes turns saying two truths and one lie about themselves. It is up to the rest of the group to figure out which one is the lie.
  4. One Word. This icebreaker brings a group together over a common issue they all face at work. Have the participants break up into groups. Then ask them to think for a minute to come up with one word that describes “X”. “X” being whatever the team building event is centered around. In a team building event you could ask participants to come up with one word to describe the overall team dynamic of the company. After the minute the groups would then discuss their one word and why they chose it.
  5. Three Shining Moments. This game focuses on participants coming to appreciate each other’s strengths. Have the group break up into teams of four. Everyone is then given ten minutes to jot down three shining moments in their career where they felt accomplished. They then share these moments with the groups. Each participant should then share one of three with everyone.


Icebreakers start great events like Life Cycles

Debrief any of these icebreaker by asking what everyone thought of the icebreaker and their reactions to each other’s stories or words. Go on to ask if anyone saw any themes or commonalities in what everyone shared.

There are certainly many more icebreaker games and activities. These are just the five we have seen to be the most effective in our corporate team building give back activities.

Brings teams together with the Playhouse Challenge

You may think the real challenge of The Playhouse Challenge comes from swinging a hammer or painting a mural. That’s not the challenge of this corporate give back activity. This challenge is learning how to effectively communicate with co-workers to achieve a common goal. The philanthropic goal of giving a one of a kind playhouse to children in need of some fun in their lives.

How does The Playhouse Challenge Work?

Satisfaction is found from building from the ground up. When you’re creating something from concept to design, and through execution, you are exercising your mind in a left-right-left motion towards completion. In Odyssey Teams’ Playhouse Challenge your group will work cooperatively to imagine, design, and build a custom playhouse. It will then be donated, in your name, to a non-profit youth program, children’s hospital, or low-income community.

We begin The Playhouse Challenge long before the lumber arrives at your destination. In a preprogram interview we want to identify your company’s specific values and business goals that this philanthropic team building exercise can deliver upon.

This give-back activity begins by an Odyssey Teams facilitator setting a strong context. It is set for participation, engagement, and applications related to your company’s values and individual behaviors as identified. After the initial launch, there are several icebreaker activities where the participants get to know one another.

Let The Playhouse Challenge Begin

Now, it’s time to dive into design and build. The teams break up into groups of ten to fifteen and then jobs are randomly assigned. The roles include Chief Marketing Officer, Quality Assurance Manager, Building Manager, Architecture/Design Manager, Procurement Manager. Now, it’s all about managing time, teamwork, and results.

The chaos of The Playhouse Challenge is one of the most enjoyable aspects. People are running around, collecting materials, and creativity is blossoming. Each group starts with the same pile of lumber. Each group imagines and designs a playhouse completely unique from one another. Some popular builds have been the beach house, candy shack, or superhero hideout.

Cooperation is key to The Playhouse Challenge
After each group has realized the commitment of communication and cooperation there is a surprise guest that makes an appearance. Odyssey Teams hosts a surprise field trip for the youth who will be receiving the playhouses. The children light up when they are told that the playhouses will be going to their organization. For many volunteering participants, it is the smiles on these young faces as they begin to explore the new playhouses that has a lasting effect.

After attending The Playhouse Challenge Sibylle Coe, director of proposals and planning for Launch Incentives said, “The Playhouse Challenge was an inspiring and motivating team-building project that provided real-life results. The challenge was extremely well organized and creative. Our attendees were exceptionally proud of their playhouses and very excited that they were going to children in need.”

After the challenge hosted by Axcess Financial Inc. held in Cincinnati Tara Westberg, district director of Check ’n Go in California said, “It just really makes you feel good as a person and for the company, you’re working for. While we’re learning and training, we’re doing something to give back, too.”

If you would like to host an Odyssey Team philanthropic give-back activity like The Playhouse Challenge Helping Hands, or Life Cycles.


Skateboard dreams come true in a Board Meeting

Whether you have children, or not, the idea of working with other people’s kids is a daunting one. This is one of the unique differences to hosting a Board Meeting. Participants have to work with children no matter what. Not only are they working with youth, but they are going to be giving the skateboard to this youth. So, team members have to learn to listen, communicate, and teach someone less than half their age.


“The basic challenge,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D, co-author of Raising Cain, “is that [adults] very often speak without understanding how children receive the message.” Adults often make the assumption that children understand, but then are left wondering ‘Why didn’t the kid do what I asked?’

Many childless adults throw their hands into the air saying “What do you say to kids? How do you even talk to them?” The answer is very simple. Treat them like a regular person. So, no dumbing down the vocabulary, or using baby talk.


Getting children to relax is the first step in the team building process. Take a moment to get to know them. Ask open-ended questions about their interests or something they know about. Ask about video games or electronics. Be sure to get down on their level. You can do this by bending down or sitting in a seat next to them.

Make sure not to talk loud or fast. Keep your hands to yourself. If you are working with older kids don’t ask about their girlfriend/boyfriend. If a difficult question does come up refer back to a Board Meeting chaperone, or simply say ‘I don’t know.’ Above all don’t discipline them. Refer to a chaperone. Always maintain empathy. Try to see things from the youth’s point of view. And if you still don’t have any idea how to open up you can Sports cast. Just start saying everything as they are doing it. ‘Look. You got the screwdriver. Hey, you found the orange marker you were looking for.’

Strap in for the best Board Meeting ever.
Once the children have relaxed and you’ve gotten to know them. Then you want to dive into the Board Meeting kit. The biggest challenge your team might face is how to incorporate the youth into the process. One of the easiest things is to let them read the instructions as you assemble the skateboard. You could set them to decorating their helmet while your team assembles the skateboard. But that’s not why you’re having a Board Meeting.

The best idea would be to put the youth in charge. It is going to be their skateboard. Let them divide up the work. Obviously, the rest of the team would help lay out the jobs to be delegated. But, let the youth decide who is going to do what.

The Board Meeting Teambuilding kit

As you’re working with the child be sure to ask specific questions along the way. Repeat what you’ve heard to make sure you and the youth understand what’s been agreed upon. Be sure to let them try each part of the skateboard assembly and decoration. They need to feel like a true part of the team and not just a puppet figure head awaiting their prize. It’s always a good idea to offer help as many older children will be hesitant to ask for it.

Once you’ve reached the end of the Board Meeting thank the child for their leadership. Ask them what they plan to do with the skateboard now that they own it. See if they can test ride it for you. Watching them light up with the excitement of a life changing event will be a memory you cherish forever. You might even become a superhero is someone’s eyes.

Corporate give back activities such as Helping Hands, Life Cycles, or The Board Meeting is one way to bring a team together, but so is a ropes course. If you’ve never been on a corporate team building Ropes Course then you are not alone. Thousands of people have never had their feet leave the ground. So, it’s understandable that you might be a little apprehensive and maybe even doubting your teammates, and your own, physical prowess.

Ropes Course builds stronger teams

Alleviate those Ropes Course concerns with a little preparation.

Most ropes courses are not thrust upon a group of people at the last minute. Usually, there is a little time for you to gear yourself up both mentally and physically. Here are a few tips to help you get started. So, you can be a superhero.

  1. Dress the part:

    Wear something that is comfortable, but not loose fitting. Avoid dangling strings, or anything that might snag on something. Leave behind any accessories that might hinder movement. Opt for tennis shoes, or comfortable walking shoes

  1. Bug Repellent:

    Many ropes courses occur in wooded areas while others happen in the desert or urban areas. Outdoor ropes courses mean you are going to want something to keep those pesky flies away. Nothing is more frustrating than having to shoo away insects while climbing thirty feet in the air.

  1. Rest the night Before:

    Don’t let your worries keep you up. Be sure to relax and enjoy the evening prior to the event.The course is a full body workout that requires a lot of energy.

  1. Physical Fitness:

    Ropes Course takes trust to finish.

    Fortunately, a ropes course isn’t a race. You can enjoy the team building process at your own pace. Some of the lighter exercises you might want to consider are standing on leg to increase your balance. The yogic tree pose is recommended. Some light cardio, walking and jogging, would be good as you will be spending most of the day on your feet moving around. Squats would be a final light exercise. There is climbing involved. Any seasoned climber will tell you that climbing is all in your legs.

Mental Readiness:

Preparing your mind for the unknown is a difficult task by any measure. No one is really sure how they will react when confronted with the fear of heights or the fear of letting go. It is precisely this fear, or one’s like them, that the Ropes Course is trying to help someone to conquer by having them step outside of their comfort zone. Overcoming your mind, not your body, is the real challenge of this course.

  1. Don’t take it too seriously:

    Again, Ropes Course is not a race. This is meant to be a challenge that gets people to step outside their comfort zones. More importantly it’s a fun team building exercise. Everyone will be making mistakes, but everyone in the group will also be given the chance to coach each other through fears and pitfalls.

A little preparation can go a long way in getting ready for anything. Ropes Course is no different. So, now that you know what to do, gear up for one of the best day’s you’ll ever have in an office meeting.

Corporate Give back activities, such as The Helping Hands Project, Life Cycles, The Playhouse Challenge, or The Board Meeting, have become the latest trend in corporate team building exercises.

Long gone are the days of team golf retreats that don’t necessarily give individuals a chance to shine. Instead corporations have begun to turn to non-profits for a chance to give back to the community, rejuvenate employees, and increase brand loyalty.

Here are the top 5 reasons employers choose corporate give back activities.


Employees are given the opportunity to interact with one another in a relaxed atmosphere structured by a common goal.  This tension-free work meeting gives employees a chance to connect with one another on a personal level. Generally, the teams are interdepartmental. This mix of professionals will achieve results in an accurate, and often faster, time. They will also build interpersonal relationships. Positives like these will be carried back to the corporate team long after the workshop is over

Promote brand within community:

Corporate give back activities elevate a brand’s status within the community. Since there is a final product to be delivered a company can make a big show of the final delivery. If your skateboards, or bicycles, are being delivered locally, like with Life Cycles and The Board Meeting, you have greater potential impact in the community. You can make a big show with a large picnic, or another catered event. This gives your recipients the chance to enjoy the bicycle, or skateboard. It also gives the people that built the product a chance to see them being used.

Attract qualified applicants:

Today’s youth are more passionate than ever about giving back to the community. Many qualified potential employees have spent time during their college career giving back in some capacity. Whether it has been donating time, money, or both. A Net Impact survey found that 45% of students would be willing to take a 15% pay cut in order to work for companies that make a social or environmental impact.  Corporate give back activities attracts potential candidates with a desire to go good in the world. Providing them with this opportunity is the incentive they’ve been looking for.

Promote health and welfare of employees:

Grow your employees’ hearts, literally. Giving back has been shown, by a Washington D.C. based company, to increase the size one’s heart. Individuals who engage in volunteer work, regularly, have shown a reduction in despair. In turn they have had less chance of heart disease. This increase in blood flow has also been shown to elevate the mood of an employee throughout their day.

Promote production:

Happier employees make for a more productive workplace. If an employer has taken the time to strengthen relationships not only within a department, but inter-departmentally then they have taken the first step to creating a stronger bond with the company as a whole. It is this stronger bond that will focus everyone’s efforts towards a common goal of customer satisfaction.Happier employees will also create a positive mental image of a company that is allowing them to give back on company time because of corporate give back activities. This state of elation is what maintains a company’s brand image and positive return on investment.

Life Cycles is proud to promote volunteering by distributing bicycles to those in need of transportation. Often times children receive the bikes, but many are given to adults. They rely on the bike for getting around town and to their jobs. Whether you’re young or old, Life Cycles has a few maintenance tips to keep your new bike rolling down the road.

Cleaning the Life Cycles bicycle is crucial

Keeping a clean bike is the number one way to keep it operational. Dirt can get lodged into the drivetrain, and gears, causing skipping. Be sure to wash with water and either a specialty bike cleaner or mild dish detergent.

Life Cycles gives back while building teams

Cleaning the bike will also keep the brake, and shift, cables clean and operating smoothly. Life Cycles recommends to wash your bicycle after every use, but if you don’t have time once a year is the bare minimum.

Listen to your Life Cycles bike

Maintaining a well-lubed drive train is the most essential part of a bike. Without the gears and chain, the bike would never move forward. Lube the drivetrain by dropping a dab of chain lube on each link pin as you pedal backward. This will work the lube into the chain. Lube your chain after each cleaning, or if the chain has become dry.

Gritty scraping sounds are an indicator of worn brake pads. Changing them out is recommended. However, a mushy feeling in your brakes is a simple maintenance issue. Remedy this by adjusting the barrel adjusters counter clockwise on the levers, or at the brake arms until the mushy feeling is gone.

Finally, you will want to tighten all the nuts and bolts on your bike. This is a quick process, but make sure you are using the right tools and the right measurements. Not all bikes have standard nuts and bolts as metric components have been instituted.

Not all of these maintenance tips need be applied at the same time, nor do they need to be used every ride. Here’s a schedule to help you remember which parts to check and how often.

Maintenance Schedule

Once a month:

  • Check the shifting by cycling through all the gears while on a small bike ride.
  • Check the brakes by squeezing them both on flat ground and going down hill.
  • Lube the brake and shift cables, wheels’ axle, and fork sliders (suspension)

Every 3 Months:

  • Check brake pads for wear. Make sure grooves are still present.
  • Inspect the chain ring and the cogs for any wear.
  • Tighten all nuts and bolts
  • Grease the seat post.

Every 6 Months:

  • Deep clean the drive train
  • Replace, and lube, the chain


Life Cycles help others peddle on with life

This schedule coupled with regular cleaning will keep your bicycle in top performance mode. You should have no problem getting where you want to go if you follow the guidelines set out here.

Access the potential of your organization’s heart by giving employees an opportunity for volunteering in a team building meeting. This solution to corporate team building is a radical one compared to many of the mainstream exercises available.

What is Helping Hands?

The Helping Hands program brings teams together within an organization to promote collaboration. The program also focuses on commitment, and quality while deepening a sense of community.

One Washington D.C. based company showed improvements to the human heart during give back activities. Individuals who engage in volunteer work regularly have shown a reduction in despair and in turn have had less chance of heart disease.

Helping Hands uses the LN-4 prosthetic hand.

Helping Hands is an opportunity for your organization to boost production, and loyalty, while giving to those in need. The process begins with a pre-program interview. It is designed to establish your company’s specific business goals, organizational values, and individual behaviors. The program itself begins by emphasizing collaboration, purpose-driven work, and customer awareness.

Awareness Reflexive Tendencies (A.R.T.) begins phase two as the participants are challenged to identify reflexive strengths and areas for improvement. This has been proven to be a more deliberate approach to balance, results, relationship, and process.

Helping Hands Surprise

The LN-4 is cost effective and easy to use.

Up until this point none of the participants are aware that they will be building Helping Hands. For the participants, this has been just another team building exercise. So, watch them light up when they realize they will be assembling, and donating, a prosthetic hand to someone in need. The build is simple enough for children to follow as noted in the Baltimore Jewish Times. Yet, its complexities increase confidence within any team of any organization. By the end of the build the participants understand the value of the project. More importantly, they understand the value of their time, and the value of your commitment to do something really good in the name of volunteering.

Participants work in teams of three to five assembling the hand. They will also be decorating the bag that the hand will travel in. There are detailed instructions for the build. Each part must be installed correctly for the hand to function. Upon completion, a picture of the team is then taken. It is put into the bag so the recipient knows exactly who gave it to them.

Helping Hands ends the program with a video containing all the people the program has aided. This creates a powerful emotional connection between the participants and their work. Some even walk away feeling like a superhero.

GE has implemented this program to great success.The end of their first session created a buzz as many corporate leaders recommended the program to their GE Canada affiliates and other offices. GE was first drawn to the kit because it is flexible enough to be offered during any meeting.

Who receives the Helping Hands?

Hundreds of hands are being given out every month.

17,000 hands have been distributed to 75 different countries around the world. People who could not turn on a faucet without help are now enjoying the thrill of running water that they started themselves.

Around America countless corporate lives have been rejuvenated and re-inspired after doing their part to help those who needed a Helping Hand.


Helping Hands are going around the world. Shivkumar is a young boy from the Phillipines who lost his hand after being electrocuted while flying his kite. Emine Yuzay, a Turkish woman born without arms, would watch as her nine brothers and sisters were allowed to go to school. She would yearn for an education she was not allowed to pursue. Mutham, from the Philippines, lost his right arm in a landmine explosion while serving in the military in 1972. Each is a tragic story in a never ending procession with still more to come.

Helping Hands works for everyone involved.

There has been some 110 million landmines spread throughout the world since 1941. There are still many active today after their respective countries cease-fires. The primary victims are civilian women and children.

Helping Hands can help

250,000 amputees are registered worldwide with the United Nations. Tens of thousands of these people live with limited mobility, discrimination, and in some cases shame. Helping Hands is a program that has become the difference between amputees living a life in hiding and being productive members of society.

Helping Hands provides prosthetic hands to amputees at no cost to them while encouraging the corporate team building process through the hand’s assembly. At a minimal cost the hand is used in a large corporate team building meeting and then donated. Participants in Helping Hands team building exercises tie one hand behind their backs. Then working in teams they must assemble the hand. Emphasis is placed on collaboration, communication, purpose-driven work, and customer mindfulness through volunteering.

Once assembled, the Helping Hands are delivered to qualified applicants. After an application process, the arm is then measured to make sure it is of adequate length. The recipient is then taught how to attach the prosthetic hand and shown how it functions. The design is very simple with three fixed fingers and two ratcheting fingers that are released at the touch of a button.

Who is receiving the Helping hands?

Helping hands recipients must have 14mm of a limb.

When asked what they miss most about life before their tragedy many amputees say just being normal. They are unable to be as productive as they know they can. Helping Hands is helping many of these people to find that sense of pride once again.

Shivkumar no longer missed flying kites, but he did miss being able to write. “Love” was the first word he wrote only seconds after being fitted and shown how to hold the pen. Emine now gets to attend school as she can hold the books, papers, and write out her homework. Mutham says he “feels like a whole person again.” He is now feeding himself and brushing his own hair in the morning.

Many others are happy to be able to provide for their families by hoeing in the garden, or cleaning around the house. Over 17,000 helping Hands have been distributed in over 75 different countries including China, South Africa, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and Egypt.

Helping Hands starts by changing lives inside the corporate team building exercises. Then finishes by completing the life of someone in need.

In a string of radical new give back activities the Board Meeting has taken volunteering to a whole new halfpipe. This is a revolutionary hands-on approach to volunteering that invigorates the soul as you bring happiness to a child.

What is a Board Meeting?

This program encourages corporate teamwork to build, and design, skateboards for youth. Not only that, but participants will be mentoring children as they work side by side with them. Working directly with the youth recipient during the build and design phase is what makes this give-back activity so unique.

Board Meetings are a blast for everyone.

Volunteering has plenty of benefits for those involved. The act of volunteering has been shown to increase self-confidence, provide a sense of purpose, combat depression, and helps people stay physically healthy. When an employer offers the opportunity to give back in a meeting during working hours it shows that employee well-being is at the top of their boss’ list.

Working with children presents its own set of rewards and obstacles to overcome with this give-back activity. Helping the child build the skateboard and learn maintenance tips is only the half of this project. Participants have to learn a different style of honest communication in order to get a point across. Teams will also have to move at a faster pace while channeling the child’s enthusiasm into constructive pathways.

The biggest delight comes from the youth’s understanding of a process due to participant guidance. This simple process becomes cherished memories. At the end, the teams get to watch the children strap on their helmet and pads. Then the kids try their hand at riding their skateboards for the first time.

Who is hosting a Board Meeting?

Board Meetings bring everyone together

Vice President of Marketing of KAO Salon Division commented “Building the boards together was a great bonding activity, but the real reward was seeing the children’s excitement as they received their skateboards. Looking around at fellow members of our team, some with smiles and other with tears of happiness, made us realize how powerful it is to come together as a group.”

This desire to give back is not only a short term gain of employee happiness but a long term gain of potential qualified employees. Many qualified students actively seek out employers that give back to the community. 45% of students in a Net Impact survey said that they would take up to a 15% pay cut in order to work for companies that actively give back to their community.

Each Board Meeting DIY Kit is unique to the company that wishes to donate. The business goals and organizational values reinforced by the program are agreed upon before the show ever begins.

Time is not a factor as most Board Meeting Kits can be assembled in the time it takes to conduct an actual board meeting in the office. (At most three hours) These lightweight self-contained kits include the pieces to construct the skateboard. Knee, elbow, and wrist pads as well as a helmet. are included. Plus the markers needed to design everything.

Teams are three members to a skateboard including youth. Small teams make this ideal for an indoor or outdoor event as very little room is required and clean up is minimal.

Strap in for the best Board Meeting ever.

Hearts grow larger figuratively, and literally, at the end of a Board Meeting. They feel like a superhero. Participants walk away recommending the experience to other members of the community. Those that have participated in the Board Meeting program have built lasting corporate team building strategies based upon collaboration and ingenuity. The teams continue keeping the customer in mind with every step they take in the workplace.

We have a few meetings weekly, and so far none are really productive, resulting in a huge emotional response from several folks. How can we change the emotional memory so that these meetings become productive?

Research has shown that physiology is critical to our state of mind and that the complexity of the human condition requires us to address the physical self in addition to the mental state. Some suggestions and things to try — these are very simple and they will work. I have seen this work for 23 years EVERY TIME.

> Do not let people sit in the same seat for each meeting or for more than 30 minutes at one meeting.  They become territorial of their seat and their ideas. Standing is preferred when brainstorming or when you would like to have open dialogue.  Be sure ALL seats feel like they are just as important as the next, and that each person can see and be heard.  If you are going to allow sitting, then every 15 minutes have people move to a new seat. I am not joking… this will work, and they will smile, move, engage, and feel better without you even trying. They might resist this the first time, but then they will begin to prepare for the switch and move past the resistance.

> Never promise to have the meeting over in “X” amount of time so that we can all get back to work. WHAT?! I have seen so many meetings start this way. Start each meeting with a STAND. Make a strong stand for what you expect the value from the meeting will be and why you need them engaged.  Example: “Thanks for being here team. I am thrilled we have this time together and hope we have enough time to fully understand the value of this presentation to our success. We will be going over the financial today and you all know how important this information is to our ability to project the next business move and make our life easier. I value each of your input and perspective and I invited you to be here because I am convinced we can grow our business if each of us fully understood this data.” You get the idea.  Make it sound good to be at the meeting and make a big promise and then deliver. If the leader is not passionate about the meeting then the team will follow.

> Listen very carefully to the “Beliefs of your team.”  When you hear a negative belief, you need to identify the belief in a non-threatening way and then go to work to change it.  Example: I am… People are… Life is… This meeting is…  This team is…  My boss is… This project is… and so on. Beliefs influence focus, and that creates reality for people. If people say, “My boss is great,” then they will see things that support that belief.  If I love the rain, then when I hear it raining in the morning, I am already happy and my mood is up. If people believe this meeting is a waste of time, then they will be very slow to see anything else.

> The huge emotional response is actually a good thing. Change your belief about it. They have emotion because they still care and they want it to be better. If you get to a point that you no longer see emotion, then people are becoming apathetic and they will not work to improve the situation.

-Lain Hensley

Three Ways to Foster a Disruptive Mindset That Breeds Innovation

I recently hosted a TEDx talk in my hometown of Chico, Calif. on the topic of disruption — a subject I hold close to my heart. Disruption is the key to success in many aspects of our lives. Sometimes our best business decisions, insights, and innovations comes when we are thrown out of our normal routine, forced to question the status quo or dealt nearly insurmountable challenges. When confronted with the right mindset, these disruptions are not roadblocks, they are the catalyst for creativity and a pathway for growth.

By embracing disruption, we are able to live up to our full potential and materialize our dreams. Here are three takeaways from my TEDx talk on the matter…

1. Put Your Hand in the Air
In kindergarten, we’re wide-eyed and excited to learn. With that also comes a young, fresh energy that encourages us to participate — to shoot our hand in the air and be part of the discussion. To share our thoughts and show-off our knowledge, right or wrong, because we have the support of our peers who are just as eager and uncritical. To be supported by our teachers that just want to see us grow.

But as we get older, a funny thing happens. Next time we raise our hand and get the answer wrong we get laughed at, we get criticized and our courage diminishes. The next time the opportunity to disrupt arises, an alarm goes off and says don’t do that — a past result has been auto saved. The opportunity for disruption came and we put it in the wrong category, as something negative. But really it’s a gift and as we get older that gift is offering an escape from the status quo. Embrace it — put your hand back up in the air and reclaim your confidence, replace the alarm with excitement. This is the chance to change your life!

2. Everything You Do Matters
Don’t mistake a chance for life changing disruption because on the surface it’s not grand enough. Small changes can pave the way for major changes in your future. So don’t ever settle.

Having a positive outlook on a disruptive situation that initially seems like a black abyss can also make all difference. It’s in the most difficult events and struggles that we live to our greatest potential. We can come back from them and be better than we were before. It’s not about being comfortable — it’s about being terrified and being ok with it.

3. Tomorrow, We Are all Beginners
It’s exciting if you stop to think about it. Every day is a new day we are approaching for the first time, so we should wake-up with fresh eyes open to new perspectives.

Expectations and past experiences can predict what will happen but pause in the moment and dream of what could be, who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to disrupt your routine because something can happen tomorrow that can change the world — yours or mine.


-Lain Hensley

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. However, effective teamwork 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 Golden State Warriors and Chelsea F.C. do not 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 mad. Shoot penalty kicks on repeat, tune up your own listening skills, or intensively train self-confidence, trust, and respect. It is about bringing the whole player to the field.

When notifying employees of the next team building event, the typical response is, “What? Do they really think I have time for this?”

Cynics come out from everywhere when the email is sent that the next team-building event is mandatory.

The most difficult task in producing a successful team building event or seminar is getting those naysayers to understand that team building leads to a more positive and productive working environment with less stress.

Here are three ways to get naysayers to engage in successful team building.

1. Create meaningful projects

Many companies that specialize in team building are finding success by adding meaningful activities for employees.

Philanthropic challenges can have impact and personal value. For example, employees can build prosthetic hands and learn that they’ll be donated to people who need them and can’t afford them.

Anytime you can add an emotional impact with the employee, the more helpful and fulfilling it will be.

It also helps to move the event somewhere offsite if available. Being outside at a park or in a rented meeting place like a hotel can be more exciting.

2. Reprogram employee behavior

We can assume that when the culture is suffering or when the culture is thriving, people can feel the difference. Results improve when culture is healthy. A healthy culture produces a happy (and productive!) employee.

They can do certain tasks for the team building event and relate it to their duties with the company. The key is to move the conversation past the activity and focus more on the productivity that is possible for the process.

Team building can help employees get back to the basics to better understand their role and how it helps the company. Clarity here can go a long way.

This is an excellent chance to find new rewards for employees that recognize their great work.

It will also present clear opportunities for leaders to emerge. If you have a new manager or supervisors on board, or one that has been waiting in the wings to emerge, team building creates opportunities for potential leaders to perform and prove they can be effective.

3. Document results

Many companies forget to keep track of the results from team building. Hiring a freelance photographer or getting someone on staff to take photos is essential for documentation.

Often times, team building motivates employees to give back more to the community in the future. If team building inspires employees to form a team to run in a local charity’s 5K, participate in a park or river cleanup or even plant a new tree in the company parking lot, make it known that you’re participating in a community aspect.

When you can document and publicize these instances, whether within the company or to the community, it can create a great sense of pride with the employee and garner a great reputation for the company.

Invite your social media coordinator to participate and encourage him or her to think of positive ways to showcase your team building event in the social space.

Life Cycles, the original bike building program, allows participants to create something valuable and pass it on to the end user. As they build a bike and pass it along to a child, the result is a firsthand experience of the value of collaboration, customer-centricity, and teamwork. Metaphors like these are rich and relevant to teams and leaders. However, there are less obvious metaphors that also emerge during the course of the program:

Tires need air. Everyone knows how to use a bicycle pump, right? Simple. You secure the nozzle over the tire valve and inflate. But in the past twenty years, the way to secure the pump to the valve has done a complete 180-degree change.

It is amazing to see people IGNORE the detailed description and pictures of HOW TO USE THE TIRE PUMP. The result is frustration, rework, and often a broken piece of equipment. Not good if you are building bikes for kids. Not good if you are aiming to build your team and be a world-class business.

For me, breaking the tube for a child’s bike was a lesson in humility. I learned that the next time – even if I think “I KNOW” – I must be humble enough (and not so much in a hurry) to pause and check to see if the ‘game’ has changed.

As fast as the world and business are changing, can you afford not to pause, confirm what is truly needed, and THEN act? So in business, when building a bike…bikes for kids…at least look at the pictures carefully.

In more than fifteen years around the globe, we have not met a group yet where the individuals were not able to articulate the values and behaviors that create great teams, great leaders and great organizations.

The last time I checked Amazon.com, it listed a staggering 224,196 books on the subject of leadership. It seems that anyone can write the book. Everyone knows how to say or speak the words.

In spite of this, common sense seems to be decreasingly common as the pressures of business and life increase.
Emotion – that most basic of human experiences – is hard to measure, and culture depends on it. So, we try to explain it scientifically. A lot of time and money is spent attempting to understand the science behind corporate culture, effective teams and successful leaders. And the results? They consistently point toward the obvious answer, the one we already know: Common sense is the best guide to harness the energy of emotion and to channel it into positive results, strong teams and innovation.

“It is unwise to try quantifying things that don’t lend themselves well to proper quantification.”
-Norman Glojck

Is it possible that the process that makes building teams, leaders and powerful cultures is this simple? Or, does it need to be more complex? If we charged per hour to ‘fix’ you, we certainly would gain by making it more complex. However, we are motivated by something much more human.


Safe – Employers AND employees MUST cultivate a safe culture for risk-taking. Does the culture smell like low tide? Are people hesitant, resistant or detached? Don’t worry about extensive or expensive ‘low-tide’ measuring devices. Just get out there and get a ‘sense’ of your environment – look, listen, feel. Is it safe for people to bring and to be their best?

Intentions – You must clarify your intentions…together. Corporate goals and visions by themselves are passé. The standard ‘kick-off’ or ‘goal-setting event’ offsite will not inspire the average employee beyond a few days or deals. Read this: It’s not their fault! A plaque on the wall or a banner listing professional goals might be motivation for you personally if you created it. But if it’s a hand-me-down from your boss, forget it. You’ve got to get their heads and hearts around it. See ‘Love’ below to turn great intentions into great results. Are you willing and capable of doing this?

Morph-readiness – Employees need to adapt, change hats, and do what’s necessary to WIN. People are people. We cannot adapt our biology nearly as fast as our sociology and technology. A passive look at morph-readiness is discussed in Chapter 11 by your 5th circuit judge. The awareness of this bio-socio-techno gap is something you may want to consider. Do you think you can just tell them to adapt? Or that they have to?…wha, wha, wha, wha, wha!

Perspectives – Creativity is born out of seeing old problems in new ways. Massive improvements only come from massive changes to how we see ourselves, each other and the problems and challenges we face. Paradigms – Pair-a-dimes – that’s only twenty cents, but you’ll spend a fortune on your current paradigm if it’s not buying you what you want or what your company needs.

A coach’s job is to see what the players cannot. You’ve got to help your ‘players’ see what they have forgotten in themselves. The challenge with matrixed and cross-functional teams is they’ve got to be able to coach each other. To do this requires ‘perspective,’ one that encourages a strong commitment to and awareness of the other five principles: S-Safe, I-Intention, M-morph-Readiness, L-love and E-energy.

Love – When the pressure is on, the honeymoon is over. People forget why they were so excited when they first got ‘the job’. We are married to our work, and the ‘professional’ divorce rate is making it easier to have ten or more jobs. Find/Choose love again. Don’t throw in the towel just because your ‘default’ response to pressure is not getting you the results you seek. There is no better way to change your default settings than to ‘change your default settings.’ Hard? Probably! Can you do it? Choose one, YES or NO. Whatever choice you made, you’re right!

Love comes from a sense of purpose and relation to the things that matter to us…together. Work should matter to us because we spend so much time there. Further, it gives us the ultimate human responsibility to our social existence and the natural law of commerce. That is, to help others…and profit. We forget that if we don’t help others, we don’t profit. The farther we are removed from the satisfied/grateful customer experience, the less chance we have of feeling their gratitude and our own sense of external purpose.

If you manage a product or service and you want to see growth, you have to continually figure out how your product or service benefits the consumer. This conversation is not just about external customers; it is also about the people you manage or lead. Help them help others, and you all profit. Neglect that, and people will lose the love that initially led them to their job. Seemingly trivial complaints (the cap left off the toothpaste, for example) then become enough to trigger a ‘divorce’ when people lose their connection to collective purpose and their ‘love’ of contribution.

Energy/Endurance – Synergy comes from energy that is aligned, and endurance comes from deep-rooted purpose. Burnout, rust-out and the “I’m-out-of-here” attitude result from a lack of focused energy and endurance. To find energy and create endurance, see the preceding SIMPL principles above.

If you need help in any of these areas, everything under the sun is available to you. Just be sure not to hire copycats of well-thought-out programs or processes. They don’t have it in their bones. And don’t confuse drinking at a Red Sox game with team building. If you’ve got a culture that smells like low tide going into this approach, you’ll come out with even more stench than when you started. A dissatisfied culture with alcohol only emerges as a more dissatisfied culture with a hangover.

It’s fascinating how EVERYONE knows the ingredients to effective teamwork, but when we throw them into simulations and turn up the pressure, the usual suspects emerge and talk becomes cheap. The basics are discarded, and we find our less-than-great selves emerging. Are we just not getting it? You can probably think of ten people right now that you know need help getting back on the cutting edge of common sense. But you? Of course not!

Bill John
Odyssey Teams, Inc.
The S.I.M.P.L.E. name and process are protected under copyright law. All rights reserved.

By the Spring of 2000, I was losing my passion for the experiential medium that was tremendously successful for the previous decade. Ropes Courses started became synonymous with “teambuilding” and “teambuilding” was losing it’s value through poor facilitators, knock-offs and companies who were seeking it just to check the box. Ropes courses were a dime a dozen and it became more ubiquitous as a challenge course and thrown into the same category as paint ball, a scavenger hunt or karaoke – where strong facilitation, or the metaphoric value were not required by industry standards or a deceived public. It was sad to watch the original brand and intent of true team development slip out of control. Odyssey was still doing it’s work effectively but we were being shopped by companies looking to just check the ‘teambuilding’ box – not looking for the true development of their team. We held the belief in our value and charged for that value and let the box checkers go to knock-off competitors with the knowledge that they would further dilute the brand of our medium.

I looked back to the good old days  – where no one had ever heard of a “ropes course”, or even “team building” – when neither label existed and we used the activities to talk powerfully about leadership, teamwork and business. I was entering this ‘funk’ more frequently by the Spring of 2000 that my colleagues (and wife) would have to endure my lust for doing something different. I talked of a new career altogether. I explored the ideas of being a fireman, even medical school, something where I could still feel like I was helping people. There were countless Odyssey meetings where my team would have to endure my funk and my non-stop push for value – not to succumb to chasing price down as our industry slipped further into the diluted “teambuilding” craze.

One day in the Spring of 2000, we got a call from Lucent Technologies who had heard of our work in building teams. They had brought a new leader to run their global procurement division – a big job. Jose Mejia was holding his first meeting for all his new direct reports from around the world. Lain took the call and listened to the challenges and objectives that Jose faced. Lain came to me with an idea of giving them a different experience and riffed for awhile on building something. He said “how about building dog houses”. I smirked, not knowing where he/that might go or how to leverage it as a training experience, a simulation, or a metaphor. Well, Lain sold the idea to the client before he really sold it to me. Nice one, Lain. ;-).  He went about his logistical, metaphoric and optimistic ways and I half-heartedly went along with it. The question that was still unanswered was: “what are we going to do with all these dog houses when they are finished?”

The event took place in Orlando, Florida for 250 participants. We decided to break them into teams of ten, give them a bunch of lumber, plywood, hammers, nails, saws, paint, brushes and two hours to see what they would come up with. Prior to the two hours of building, we spent two hours setting the context and giving them experiences and discussions to get them prepared to WORK. That is, to sharpen their creativity, leverage the strengths and diversity of the team; manage time, resources and energy, and be more deliberate about processes, relationships and results.

Well, we must have nailed these elements because what everyone in the room saw was utterly amazing. On time, 25 of the most creative, fantastic dog-houses were built. Some on stilts, some with draw bridges, Tahitian dog-huts, modern architecture, Victorian. At the conclusion, we all paraded down the ‘streets’ of this dog-house neighborhood in complete awe of what was accomplished. Lain made prizes for ‘best teamwork’, ‘best creativity’, and I think one was even for ‘best engineering’ (since most of the group were engineers). As with ALL Odyssey programs, the experience itself was not our aim. The discussion or debrief was.  It is there we have the chance to attach words – powerful words and behaviors to galvanize the experience. The words and experience are thus connected with who they are, what they do and where they are going – individually and organizationally.

Jose announced that the houses were going to an auction sponsored by Lucent technologies and that the proceeds were going to be given to the local (Orlando) Habitat for Humanity. A win for people, a win for dogs, and a huge WIN for Jose and his new team. At dinner, Jose and I talked about the event. He knew, that as he went around the world, meeting his other teams and leaders, that THIS was exactly the medium which would point towards what he wanted his people to value. His next big meeting was to be in Atlantic City in October, 2000.

Ever creative, Lain suggested an idea to build on the ‘building’ idea – bicycles – for Joses next meeting. Again, I was half-sold on the metaphoric value but Lain proceeded and started pointing towards some things that I thought could work. As I was on the plane flying from California to Newark, I dug in deeper to the metaphor of building bikes and I realized that the bike could be analogous to ‘product’ and since this was a procurement team, I would make them procure the supplies. The tools would be available but only if they leveraged each other into sharing them. No individual team would have everything they needed which would require them to move beyond their silos to access the potential of all the parts and pieces that lay in front of them. There was still something missing for me. I didn’t know what it was until we were somewhere over Nebraska. We had already pre-determined that the bikes would be donated to the local YMCA but this did not contain the metaphoric power I was looking for. We needed the kids to burst through the doors to represent the face of the customer – to give more importance to the product itself, and of course the process, relationships – and people that produced it.

As soon as I landed, I got on the phone with our contact at the YMCA and asked him if he could bring the kids – all 50 of them!

He did. They came to the hotel while the participants were frantically building and managing the short time I gave them for this business ‘simulation’. The kids were just outside the doors as the time clicked to mark the end of the assembly of the bikes and the beginning of the post build debrief. While the participants talked about sharing tools, or not, who finished first, or not, they made some good connections and lessons. Meanwhile, quietly, the kids were escorted through a backstage door behind the curtains and given a number that matched one of the 50 bikes in the room. The kids were curious. They knew they were going to be given a surprise but had yet to learn it was a brand new bike, helmet and lock.

I asked the participants to look at their ‘product’ – the bike and tell me what it had. “Wheels” they shouted, “handlebars”, “peddles”, “tires”, “spokes”. Then I asked them to think back to their first bike, to think of it’s color, how old they were, and then asked them to tell me what a bike IS. They shouted:  “transportation”, “self-esteem”, “ownership”, “friendship”, “FREEDOM”. The mood changed in the room in thinking about what it IS versus what it HAS and I asked them to think about the Life Cycle of this “Product” – that it was still not complete in what it was intended to become…until now. “It’s time for you to meet your customers”, I announced.

The curtains swung open and there was a brief moment of disbelief, a moment of ‘Oh shit’ followed by thunderous applause and smiles, and tears. Every participant was on their feet. The kids, looking out, starting to realize that all those shiny bicycles, balanced upside-down, just might be the surprise that their YMCA coordinator and Odyssey talked about right before they came in the room. I confirmed this for them and the kids shout out their approval and joined all the adults in this special surprise that went both ways.

I was a mess. I thanked the kids for coming – for being brave enough to walk into this mystery and for the good things that they had done that led them to be invited/chosen by their coordinator to get to take a brand new bicycle home. I told them to hold up their numbered sign and for one of the participants in that group, representing that same numbered bicycle to come up and find their customer, go back, and get to know each other and to adjust the seat to the proper height and the handlebars to the right position.

Almost every team dove into their tools and started fixing brake cables, adding air to tires, double-checking every bolt and nut. I asked them to pause for a moment and got everyone’s attention. I asked them what they were feeling that led to all this additional work on the bike as a rhetorical question. I asked them to really feel the answer to that question. Then, I announced that “we have brought expert bike technicians to put a wrench on every part of the bike to be sure they are perfect when they leave this building”. “Your job then is to build relationship with your customer. Find out where they are going to ride their new bike, who they are going to tell when they get home”.

After about 20 minutes with each other it was time to say goodbye and escort the kids and bikes out of the room with bikes to the technicians and kids back with Odyssey’s youth coordinator.

Back in the room with the Lucent participants, I introduced the YMCA coordinator who talked about how/why he chose these kids, what a bike means to them and more about the purpose of the YMCA and it’s importance in the community/world. Standing ovation.

Then I asked the group to get into their build teams (five) and talk about what they were feeling and how that feeling connects with who they are, what they do and where they are going.

Facilitation gets it’s origins from the Latin equivalent ‘to make easy’. My job was to make it easier for them to see all the connections between this activity and their business, their role, their leadership, their values, their products and their customers. Well, this activity made that easier than just about any experience I had ever given a group. When we opened up the conversation to the entire group – getting people to report out their observations, lessons, insights and take-aways, I was just blown away. Everyone in the room was. It was absolutely inspired and inspiring. They made connections that we could never have made for them. That’s the beauty of facilitating. They know far more about what they do than we do. Our job is to aim them in the right direction and listen and learn right alongside.

There are thousands of transformational observations and connections that people have made over the last 14 years of delivering this program to more than 80,000 participants around the world, delivering more than 16, 000 bicycles to underprivileged children. The main ones tend to revolve around:

— The power of purpose
— Knowing the Why of your actions and endeavors
— Putting quality into something the first time and committing to it
— Keeping the customer/end-user in mind more often – if not always
— Collaborate more, share knowledge, information and tools instead of being hyper-competitive
— Be less silo-minded, have an eye on the bigger picture
— Your actions MATTER
— Do more things that benefit the community!
— Demonstrate our/these values in all things and everywhere we go

For Jose Mejia and Lucent Technologies this was a catalyst – a starting point and tipping point in what would be over a billion dollars of savings to the organization through streamlined processes, shorter inventory turns, and more.

So now you know the secret. If you’ve not participated in Odyssey’s Life Cycles™ program, the original bicycle building program with the children bursting through the doors, the surprise element in advance for you is now gone. I use to worry about this and it brought us a great marketing conundrum. We are not so worried anymore. In the hundreds if not thousands of times we’ve delivered Life Cycles, we invariably have participants, VP’s, event planners and others that bring us in to work with other groups. These people know the surprise element and still find the emotional component and frequently say that it was better the second time through -that this time they were able to focus more on watching the dynamics of their team and connecting the Odyssey concepts more deeply. We, at Odyssey can relate. It still chokes me up one or more times during every program.

Prior to Life Cycles there was nothing that made a deliberate connection between training, teambuilding, philanthropy and community service. Especially in only four hours and all contained in the simple logistics of a conference or meeting room.

The word of mouth was rampant. The press loved it. It was an industry-changer for at least one industry, and it was a creator, or tipping point of an industry or it least phrase not yet born at the time. I’ll get to that in a minute.

The industry we changed with Life Cycles was the “Teambuilding” industry. Anyone who was providing anything under this umbrella started to hear about ‘the bike building program’. As they heard about the power of this experience from our raving participants, they heard about the most descriptive parts – the building of bicycles and donating them to underprivileged kids. Unfortunately, and shame on Odyssey, we didn’t send them off with an easy way to describe the process and context that gave so much life and relevance to the building of bikes and then giving them to children. So, the hapless “teambuilding” companies that diluted the power of the ropes course and other experiential mediums, began the easy task of offering their own ‘bike building’ program where you can build a bike for children.

While we are proud of the bar we have raised in the industry, we are sad to say that some of our colleagues have even tried to claim being the inventors of this program/process.

We realized early on that we were going to be copied. To heed this off, we looked at copyrighting the program and discussed with attorneys, who suggested wholeheartedly we do this. One good attorney and friend said that copyrighting it might not be too hard but the burden and cost of enforcing it is where the real issue was. We also realized that it would be out of our character to try to control or prevent companies and people from building bikes for children. So, we did the next best thing (in our minds and hearts), we put a note/invitation at the bottom of our website that we would train other teambuilding companies to run Life Cycles. A few of our closest allies did this, but dozens of other companies never even called. They just ran off to Wal-Mart, bought bikes and advertised their build-a-bike program and some made false claims to it’s origin.

Our fears were confirmed that the powerful process that came from years and years of our own experience, steeped in our bones, was being diluted into just an activity. Yes, probably better than any other ‘activity’ they offered or their participants had ever experienced – even without our process – but, really? Do the participants have to race the bikes? Is there no context or concepts to drive throughout, no debrief or deliberate transference? I suppose it was inevitable that Rolex and Odyssey would get knocked off. The broken law of morale commerce. So that’s my bitterness.

The sweet is still really sweet. Life Cycles changed the industry. The tens of thousands of people who have gone through this program have expected more of ‘team-building’. They now desire that the event coupled with their business meeting is not in vain, not just a decadent waste of money, a boondoggle or simply self-indulgent. They realized in the Life Cycles program what a massive difference that could be made with their heads, hands and hearts. Yes, the teambuilding industry changed. It responded with all kinds of new options, some really good, some really questionable. But it’s trying and mostly it is coming from a good place and good people.

The second industry that was created or at least hit its tipping point through Life Cycles was not even an industry when we started Life Cycles. As the wildfire spread about good deeds being done that make a difference in the community and for teams and organizations, a word was coined to describe it: CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Now, it’s a massive objective, recognized and adopted by most organizations and contributes billions of dollars to communities and projects around the world.

There is a problem though. I fear that it is not going to reach it’s potential for what good it can do. It has become a fad because too often the deeper value to the participants, the employees, is not there. They will donate and give their time but only up to the point where they see the connection to who they are, what they do and where they are going.

Already, we have organizations that are calling us that are just box-checkers. “We just want to do a CSR program”. “No, we don’t have time or need the other parts of the program. Can we just build the bikes and give them to kids? Can we just build the prosthetic hands, show the videos and be done? We only have one hour.”

The same companies that just wanted a “teambuilding activity” a decade ago are now calling us for this ‘activity’ so they can get their CSR event done.  The box checkers are going to kill the deeper value of CSR because they forget the shelf life of doing something for others is short-lived unless you can connect what it does for the success of those you are asking (or even requiring) to do CSR.

So here is Odyssey Teams, at that point of re-invention, again, pushing the envelope to create meaningful experiences for people that transform the way people show up for work. As long as there are genuine companies interested in this pursuit, we’ll keep inventing and challenging our industry to be better.


Bill John

Founder, President/CEO

Odyssey Teams, Inc.

What do bikes have to do with real business? Why build bikes for children? Why the big surprise? These are some of the common questions that we are asked during the planning phase of our Life Cycles (TM) bike and teambuilding program. The question is easily answered with one word…emotion. People learn when emotion is present. They are more receptive to feedback, open to self-examination, and willing to talk openly with co-workers.

Everyone remembers their first bike, so there is an instant connection to the value of the product being built. Due to the intrinsic value of the product, participants can easily assimilate the emotional connection of their everyday job to the value that this new product will bring to their “customer”. Like no other product, a bike creates a viable link to the real work that people do. When the children enter the room the product-to-market experience is complete – and the learning is abundant.

After the participants have built, customized and delivered the bikes to the children, the experience becomes less about the bikes and more about the lessons of the process. With their hearts open and endorphins pumping participants reflect on their communication, collaboration, and effectiveness with teammates. They are more willing to assess their level of commitment and attention to detail. They develop a deeper appreciation for their team and company and find new connections to the work they do and the customers they serve. This is not smoke and mirrors. It is a real-life experience that transforms a team building program into a profound and lasting encounter. Unlike any other “team building” experience, the Life Cycles program delivers.

I’ve got to admit that I am biased here being one of the co-inventors of  Life Cycles – the original build a bike teambuilding event. Being in the experiential learning industry for 15 years prior to the light bulb going on about the idea of combining philanthropy and experiential training, I had the opportunity to witness the power of experiential learning at it’s outdoor zenith. Through the use of ropes courses, and in particular, high ropes courses, we were able to provide a dramatic and emotional experience for people using heights and events outside of the normal context of work. These were powerful catalysts for learning and when combined with expert facilitation and curriculum were truly life-changing for participants. Yes, teamwork improved and sales often followed.

The trouble was that it often required burdensome logistics that prevented large-scale groups from attending. It was near impossible to bring the program indoors and out of the question for groups larger than 100.

The original bike building teamwork event, (Life Cycles), became the answer. It didn’t take long before we were averaging groups in the 400-700 range with some in excess of 1200 in two to four hour events. Most of these groups have been sales forces looking for new ways to connect their people to each other (teamwork) to their products (pride) and ultimately to their customers (an orientation towards THEIR experience). The quest for this trifecta of connection has been difficult for event planners and senior VP’s to find.

With so much good being done in one room at one time it didn’t take our biased opinion to point towards Life Cycles (the bike building event) as a top tier solution. It was being sold by word of mouth. Some of the descriptions of program value have been better than we could ever say…even with our bias.

Check out what our clients have said of their experience building bikes for kids and how it impacted their teamwork, customer-orientation and sales. Go to www.odysseyteams.com.

What makes the workplace “safe?” I’m talking about emotional–not physical–safety here. Think back to your high school days. Can you remember a time when the teacher asked a question and you weren’t sure if you had the right answer? Did you spring out of your seat and throw out your best guess? If you did, you were one of the few. Most of us probably averted our eyes and hid, hoping the teacher wouldn’t call on us. We knew what was at risk if we got it wrong: teasing, ridicule, humiliation. Even if we got it right, we risked being pegged as a “teacher’s pet” or a “know-it-all.” We learn early in life to avoid potentially embarrassing situations. Most people are terrified of being made fun of or looking foolish; they just want to fit in.

The same is true in the professional world. Employees yearn for a sense of belonging. They want to feel accepted, appreciated, empowered and acknowledged. They want to take risks, but don’t want to feel bad or stupid when they fail. Even the best managers can make situations feel “unsafe,” and understanding how to avoid this pitfall is an important key to successful management.

How do you respond when a member of your team approaches you with an idea, a comment or feedback? Do you really listen and seek to understand? Does your response change if you disagree? Do you avoid the question and never get back to them? What “price” do they pay for their risk?

“Safe” and “unsafe” environments come in many forms. Are you always in a rush, forcing people to speak at an auctioneer’s pace to get their point across? Do you “spend” three minutes rushing the conversation? Or do you “invest” those same three minutes in your valued co-worker/employee? The time lost in both situations remains the same, but the disparate impacts on your co-worker/employee may be vastly different.

It often comes down to perspective. If you consistently feel the need to refute employees’ ideas or to offer your opinion on the subject, they might not feel safe coming to you.

Distinguishing the need for consensus from the need for resolution is a critical management skill. Consensus requires that more than one person is heard. Resolution can be achieved with the sound of one voice. The key then becomes knowing when that voice should be yours and when it should be theirs.
The next time you are approached by a co-worker or employee, check your reflexes. Your actions may have more impact than you realize.

Jonathan Willen,
Sales/Strategy, Odyssey Teams, Inc.

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.

Odyssey client, NetApp was just given the honor of “Third Best Multinational Work Place” according to greatplacetowork.com. We are extremely proud, yet not surprised. Over the years they have been enthusiastic participants in our Life Cycles and Helping Hands programs. Throughout our partnership we have helped them deepen the individual and organizational ‘Why’ of their work. This has provided a more powerful perspective and context for answering the ‘How’ questions they strive towards:
How can we be more collaborative?
How can we be more innovative?
How can we improve quality?
How can we be more customer-centric?
How can we give more to the community?
They worked on the answer to each of these, and the by-products have been incredible amounts of bicycles built for (and given to) under privileged children and hundreds of prosthetic hands funded and built for amputees in developing countries. While other companies might do a charity event to check the box, NetApp understands the connective element to character, culture, contribution and customer. These Four C’s are the building blocks of innovation, quality, customer-centricity, and community – and NetApp is not afraid to talk about it. Odyssey Teams has provided the structure and process for them to do this powerfully.
Not surprisingly, NetApp is now where people want to work and where they want to do business.
Well done, NetApp. The world is watching. Way to use your heads, hands and hearts!

I can’t take it anymore!!! What is team building?
After 20 years of traveling all over the world and working with the top of fortune 100 companies and the bottom of lots of others, I have hit my breaking point. I’ve been doing leadership development, communication seminars and “teambuilding” and many of my own clients are still wondering… What is teambuilding? I’m wondering what they really want from me. I’m not sure anybody really knows. I might not even know. But at this point, I’m as big an expert as I can find, so I am going to try and help define this beast for all of us. The definition has become so broad, so overused that some people are beginning to confuse “team hazing” as teambuilding and I don’t really want to be a part of that. Do you…?

In 2000, we at Odyssey Teams confused the situation even more by introducing the concept of philanthropy into the teambuilding world with the first ever bike building program, (Life Cycles). The amazing success of this program, and its duplication by all our competition, forced us to innovate again and we followed up with the Helping Hands and Playhouse Challenge offerings. They have been very successful, but now our training process is confused with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) teambuilding events with no actual teambuilding result that impacts the performance of the team beyond the activity itself. We are also mixed in with rafting, paint ball, food fights, bike building programs with a focus on building the bikes and racing them around for prizes and a day pulling weeds by the freeway. What have we done? How do I stop it?
Ok let’s start with the definition… Teambuilding. Is it one word or two? For argument sake, can we just agree it is one word? Somebody get on the phone with the people who create words and my computer dictionary and say we have made a decision. It is one word.
Now… what does it mean? . Definition – ‘Teambuilding’ – the act of building a team as a result of each person on that team doing individual building…together. This is accomplished most often through the combination of information, demonstration, experience and application. For those of you who love acronym’s – how’s that for an IDEA?
Now, lets look even closer. If you search teambuilding on Google alone you get 1,730,000 options. WOW!!! That is a lot of teambuilding. They can’t all be the same or equal value to you, can they? How do you decide what to do for your group and will it build your team at all?
I say we break it into three parts. Whatever programs you are considering or you have participated in was or will be a combination of these: the activity itself, the quality of the training content, and the skill of the facilitator. When you are considering your options out of the 1.7 million possibilities you should start by giving each of these a value. I like a 1 to 10 scale.
1. The activity itself: Some activities have a certain amount of natural or intrinsic value. Building one of our playhouses and giving it to a children’s group will be fun, creative, require teamwork, physically active, and participants will need to interact with each other to get the job done. They will also feel a sense of purpose when they give the Playhouse away and meet the children recipients. I would give this activity a 9 on a 1 to 10 scale of natural value for the team from this activity without training content or facilitation. Pulling weeds along the freeway with your group scattered over a one-mile stretch of road, I would give a 2. The drinking that is sure to take place after the weed pulling work, I would give a 4.
Before you make a choice, consider how active you want the group to be, logistics of your site, and how distracted you want them to be with the actual project. If training content is an 8 on your scale the Playhouse Challenge would not be a good option. I would consider, Helping Hands, Life Cycles or another indoor, moderately active option. This will keep the group engaged and focus on the training purpose of the activity and not just the activity.
2. The quality of the training content: We have been working for years to blend the right experience with the training curriculum of our clients. In some cases this has meant months of meetings and in depth dialogue about how the activity is going to bring to life the behavioral virtues necessary to fill any gaps related to results, processes and relationships. Some teams need to use the teambuilding opportunity to purposely move the dial on a specific measurable in the groups performance. In some cases we have eliminated the activity portion from our delivery altogether, so we can focus on our training process exclusively.
Other groups have had no interest in pull-through and ROI from the event. Fun was king and activity was the joker. What is your priority here? If you have a group that has a new leader, has been going through a merger, or has been struggling through hard times over the last quarter, you might consider this as the key element to your selection criteria. Activity itself is not enough for them. They want to see the activity as an opportunity to connect with the purpose and values of the organization or the new leader. Don’t miss this transformational moment and just give them some busy work. Be sure the teambuilding company you select has the facilitation skills and the ability to blend the right activity with the current state of the team. If you do this, the entire process can become a natural extension of your training curriculum with lasting and powerful results.
We know that memory is linked to emotion. If you want them to remember your training message as more than just an intellectual concept, select an activity that will have them feel and experience the information at a level below their shoulders. This can be transformational to human behavior and team performance. If this is not a priority for this meeting, then set your training content score at a 1 to 5. But know what you are looking for and hire for it.
3. Skill of the facilitator: We have all sat in the back of a training or teambuilding session and had the chill go down our spine as the facilitator vacillated between boring and cheesy. A quick glance in the back of the training room can reveal the person who decided to book them as the most uncomfortable person in the room. Ouch… that’s a bummer.
If you have given the activity itself a high value (7 to 10) for your meeting and the training content is low on your scale (1 to 5), then when the ten uncomfortable minutes are over the activity will begin and by the end of the session the participants are happy and everybody walks out better for it.
The Build a Hand Kit is our Helping Hands program in a box without our live facilitation. If the group is easy or small and not going to eat the facilitator alive, why pay to have the experts come in? If you are looking for a powerful activity with the training content your in-house facilitators already know then this kind of do-it-yourself process is a great option.
Sometimes, people respond better to an outside facilitator. Other times, you may have complicated logistical challenges with a group from 10 to 1,000. In either case it may be best to bring in the facilitation pros and let them do their thing. If you have a high score on your training content and your group needs a transformational teambuilding session – and you have already paid a lot of money to get them in the room together – then hire the best facilitator you can find who will deliver the program you want and enjoy the recognition you are sure to get afterwards.
The Lifecycles bike-building program has been delivered by everyone from beach Olympics companies to motivational speakers and top-level executive coaches. Be sure you are getting what your group needs for the outcomes you have identified. If the facilitation is not appropriate for your group it can distract from the process and you miss out on the possible return on your investment. Caution, pay peanuts and you might get monkeys.
I hope this has been helpful. Next time you have 10 or 10,000 people flying in from all over the country and you decide to do a teambuilding program, keep this in mind. Start your planning with a conversation about these three areas and agree on your score for each. If you need help, great, but at least this gets you asking yourself and your team the right questions before you start looking for the event. If you end up working with Odyssey Teams, we’ll be able to deliver the ideal balance, hit all your expectations and make us all look good. This formula should lead to an easy decision for your planning team and a relevant experience that actually does build your team.
Good luck! Oh and please don’t introduce me as the games guy, or bike-building guy to your executive team. Thanks!

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);
Nepal: 20
India: 300
Equador: 200
Dominican Republic: 80
Total: 600
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 team building 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.

When teams build bikes for kids, teams are brought together. Click here for more information on the original Life Cycles bicycle building teambuilding. Kids and bikes… bikes and kids, is there a better match than kids and bikes? Odyssey’s bike building, teambuilding program called Life Cycles is a great event to promote teamwork. Building bikes are a great way to build teams and work as a team. Walking into a room with kids and seeing the kids look at all the bikes in the room that are for each kid is a wonderful teambuilding experience. Kid’s light up when they see bikes. Teambuilding is great for the participants, especially when they are donating a bike to a kid. Building bikes takes teamwork. When building a bike that will be donated to a kid the teamwork is more effective and memorable. When kids walk in and see bikes and the groups that built the bike see the kids, smiles and tears are on every face. Build bikes for kids for better teamwork today.

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 and 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 acknowledgment, or a quick realignment to what really is important for self, team, and business. Mix it up. Build something real!

Team building doesn’t always have to be focused solely on your team. That’s the philosophy we follow when it comes to our Helping Hands project, one of our many Give Back Activities.

During our helping hands program, you and your team will work on building an actual prosthetic hand, like the one show below from a variety of parts. Don’t worry, we will be there to help you along the way, and the kit even comes with instructions. We combine curriculum, activities and key note addresses with the cooperative problem-solving exercise of assembling these hands. You will have to work together to figure out build it most efficiently and effectively. And trust me, you’ll want to put in your best effort because this hand is going to be given to someone in a developing country who has lost their hand. Together, we can change the world.

"This is the most powerful customer service program I have ever attended."

James Terry - Sr. Leadership Team - Honeywell

Odyssey Teams

James Terry - Sr. Leadership Team - Honeywell

"This is the most powerful customer service program I have ever attended."

"Absolutely one of the best "training" events I have had in my career. I have already related the experience and lessons learned to numerous people, both internal and external at Qualcomm."

Ty Stewart - Qualcomm

Odyssey Teams

Ty Stewart - Qualcomm

"Absolutely one of the best "training" events I have had in my career. I have already related the experience and lessons learned to numerous people, both internal and external at Qualcomm."

"The entire room, including me, was in tears. It was just an awesome experience and all of the managers involved just loved it. I know it did a great thing for our company and the kids."

William Stanley - Neuroscience District Manager - Solvey Pharmaceuticals

Odyssey Teams

William Stanley - Neuroscience District Manager - Solvey Pharmaceuticals

"The entire room, including me, was in tears. It was just an awesome experience and all of the managers involved just loved it. I know it did a great thing for our company and the kids."

"The last couple of days were unforgettable, inspiring, and truly thought provoking."

Richard Cracraft - UCLA Executive MBA program

Odyssey Teams

Richard Cracraft - UCLA Executive MBA program

"The last couple of days were unforgettable, inspiring, and truly thought provoking."
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