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Team Building: Learning More From Failure Than From Success

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Team building is a very important part of any business… or any team for that matter. Without teamwork… a team doesn't work… literally. 

Without teamwork your team won't function as well as it could. Without team building, your team's work won't improve or worse  - it could get worse! 

Team building is more than gathering a few people together for a couple of beers. It's more technical than allowing yourself to fall backwards into the arms of your office buddies and hoping they catch you!

Team building can work really well, and it can hugely benefit your business, your team and office relationships. 


What happens if your team don't think that it's for them?

What if your workers or colleagues think that team building will be too hard?

What if they worry that they'll fail at it? Won't that be bad?

We know this is a stumbling block but we also know that without failure you'll never succeed. 


"Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change is" – John Wooden.


We actually like failure. 

We look at failure as the areas that you, as a business, can learn from during and after your team building day. 

We look at why the task failed, but more importantly how we can improve it next time. 

Inside View of Meeting Room for Team Building

This is hard to do on a day-to-day basis in your business but out here, in the fields, and in our log cabin training room, it's easy to spot issues and deal with them in a classroom-style approach that get better results than disciplinarians. 

A 'traditional' team building day at Adventure Sports involves teams of 6-8 people circulating around a series of 'problem solving' activities. Our events allow your team members to practice 'being the leader' or to try a different approach to problem solving. 

It's all too easy for the natural leader to be the leader. But "he who shouts the loudest isn't always the most knowledgeable" (or the best person to lead). 

We let others be the leader (or suggest that they take on the role, should we say). On the traditional team building day we'll rotate the games, teams, but more importantly the roles, to really test your team.

Failure – it's a good thing in team building, you know!

If it all goes wrong it's not the end of the world. During our team building sessions no one really loses. If you fail at making it across the course you don't really fall into acid and suffer from third degree burns (it's all a game). 

What it does do though is show you, your team, and us, what problems your team has and what problems they can't solve. 

Sometimes we find a natural born leader you didn't know you had. 

Often we'll find some really good organisers. 

On occasion we strike gold and find a member of your team with hidden talents.

It's all fine. Because it's all positive for your team building day and that will be positive for your business.

We have had groups who are terrified of trying something different at work for fear of getting it wrong. 

They come here and try out different ways of doing things (leadership styles, brain storming, time management, communications, managing people…) - some work, and some don't. 

Giving up is the only sure way to failure…

Let's face it. When you don't try something you'll fail. If you never really start how do you expect to finish? Team building days are very much about that ethos. 

We encourage people to try new things, new activities and new roles. 

Even if it doesn't end up as successful as they'd hoped we can really work on why it didn't; that's a really powerful part of any team building exercise.

You won't take the physical skills back to work. You don't need a succession of ropes and six team mates to get to the watercooler or photocopier but the communication skills you learn will help your next team meeting.

You won't need to navigate a barrel across a chasm to nail that next pitch but the stronger teamwork will pay dividends on the work leading up to it.

What do we mean when we say Traditional Team Building?

Plumbers Nightmare

Adventure Sports has designed and delivered team building events for well over 20 years (our original military style 'command tasks' were first used by us in 1990!) The principle of a day is to ensure each team is faced with a series of problems, usually practical outdoor challenges, that can be overcome if the team work together. The actual challenge is not terribly important, it's how the team goes about solving the problem that is fascinating. 

Six to eight people is the optimum team size so, for larger groups, we will divide the group down into multiple teams (any group size from 6 to 250 can be accommodated). The teams then head out around our 100 acre Warwickshire activity centre to discover their challenges under the guidance of one our instructors. The instructors role is to look after the team, make sure they don't get too lost (teams often use map and compass to find their way to their activities) and to observe and provide feedback after each activity.

So, What are Team Building Challenges?

The challenges are there to allow teams to try out leadership techniques, experiment with problem solving techniques and bond with fellow team workers. We use well over 2

0 different exercises of differing levels of physical requirement and complexity. Part of setting up the event will be establishing who you have in your group to make sure the tasks are achievable and yet challenging. Examples include:

    Stepping Stone Team Build
  • UXB: Retrieve a large unexploded bomb from a crater using ropes and pulleys. Then, decipher the code to defuse it before the countdown timer reaches zero.
  • Electric Fence: A box of vital supplies must be recovered from a secure compound protected by a high voltage electric fence and minefield. 
  • Poles Apart: The team builds a bridge from poles and ropes to sign their names on a pad of paper located in the centre of a minefield.
  • Stepping Stones: The team crosses a large swamp using colour coded stepping stones and planks. A problem occurs halfway across that changes the criteria for success. 
  • Nuclear Hazard: Toxic waste is leaking from a barrel, and the contents must be transferred to a safe container using ropes and poles.
  • Leap Frog Team Challenge Logic
    Leap Frog: A complex life-size puzzle involving the team wearing coloured and numbered bibs, moving in opposite directions along a line of stepping stones with only one empty space.
  • Spider's Web: Team members must pass through 2 giant webs whilst avoiding the venomous spiders which move around the webs. A 3D game of chess.
  • Empire Crate Building: The team construct a tower of crates with one team member standing on top (secured with a safety line and harness!). Towers frequently reach 30 ft high!
  • Level Crossing Test
    Level Crossings: The objective is to build a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows by collecting tennis balls transferred through lengths of tubing.
  • Reef Knot Challenge: This exercise requires the team to tie several reef knots in a length of rope, but when they touch the rope their hand is stuck to it. This requires careful planning, communication and reviewing to improve performance.
  • Crossroads: Four platforms joined by metal poles. Each team starts on one platform and finishes on another - this exercise is often used at the end of a team day to bring teams together.
  • Archery Strategy Team Success
    Archery Strategy: An experienced instructor teaches team members to shoot recurve bows. The team is then given 2 targets with balloons strategically placed. The team has just 20 arrows to accumulate max points with either high scoring, high risk targets or simpler, low scoring targets.
  • Chasm Crossing Team
  • Plumber's Nightmare: A precarious self-supporting 'Heath Robinson' apparatus must be erected to channel water to retrieve a tube containing a ball 10 metres away. 
  • Chasm Crossing: The team must traverse a 15 ft wide chasm using a suspended loop, and a selection of equipment - deceptively challenging.
  • Bridge Building: The team is given a selection of barrels, planks and ropes to build a bridge or raft to cross the 10 metre wide river (not deep!). The original 'team building' exercise not for the faint hearted! Successful teams stay dry! (We do have showers and changing rooms.)
  • Duplicity: A complicated model made from Lego blocks must be duplicated using a second set of blocks 200 metres away. The original cannot be moved, and each team member can only move inside their own limited zone of approximately 25metres. 
  • Human Sheep: Blindfolded team members must collect selected objects from the fenced off pen. No voice commands are allowed; just the supplied whistles, duck-calls, rattles and squeakers. 

Some say that team building isn't for everyone - we disagree. 

We think it's essential for everyone to test themselves, their skills and their boundaries. 

It's also essential for your team to communicate well with each other or even the most skilful teams won't give you the best results. 

Team building is tailored to your needs and requirements but it's also backed up with teachings, improvements and thought-provoking moments that really do make that difference you're looking for.

We'll leave you with this thought…


"When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important."-Ellen DeGeneres.

If you need to improve your team skill contact Adventure Sports to talk through some details - take the first step to changing your team for the better.