(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

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!


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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

"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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