Sun Tzu defined team building as a necessity that must be encouraged whenever possible (or at least this is what we think he would have said). Team Builds should be utilised swiftly to avoid economic losses. Sun Tzu emphasised the importance of positioning in team development. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. He knew the benefits of Team Building.
The Art of War is a set of early Chinese military articles attributed to Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general. The text is composed of 13 chapters. The below extracts across four chapters have been modified slightly with some quotes and words lost in translation.
A statue of Sun Tzu
Chapter 1 – Laying The Plans
Each team build should be unique and that the key to a successful event is in creating the objectives correctly. Consider and agree the ‘end in mind’ (A great tool from Stephen Covey – habit 2) ask ‘what do we want the benefits of our team building to be’. Underpinning these is the importance of clear objectives. We suggest having 3 that are simple, specific, and clear. Once these are considered and agreed the ‘battle plan’ (agenda) will follow to achieve the objectives.
“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections for a team event.” Sun Tzu
Chapter 2 – The Plan of Attack
To achieve the benefits of Team Building. We suggest a facilitated journey of discovery using a team assessment this coupled with the objectives, ensuring any team day is focused on output; tangible learnings, behavioural changes & results. Examples may look as follows:
- Learn more about yourself, about others and about the team, and have some fun.
- For the team to feel comfortable with each other and be able to share and resolve challenges.
- To create a more open environment that empowers the team to understand & support each other.
Chapter 3 – Classification of Terrain
Climbing a mountain – At MBM we get this, we truly do, it allows a team to have a shared and memorable learning experience but climbing a mountain or river rafting can be short lived in terms of gains. The pragmatists shout “how do I use this again in the office, next week, next month, next year?” Therein lies the issue of the excitement driven event. Opt for the offsite dangers of a well air conditioned spacious room – less wind-chill more learnings and agreements.
“If you are far from the office, make them believe you are near.” Sun Tzu
Chapter 4 – The Army on the March
Long term sustainable ‘sticky‘ benefits are the key to a successful event. The benefits of Team Building will see both tangible and intangible results for any group of individuals. Some are certainly easier to measures whilst others are often unexpected.
Here are some of the Benefits of Team Building that can be expected:
- Improved communication so colleagues appreciate each others thinking and decision making styles more.
- Clarity on the importance of greater team work and improved cooperation.
- Increased morale because they have a break from the norm and ‘get away from it all’.
- Barrier identification and deconstruction – they were safely allowed to air some things.
- The opportunity to define a team vision, objectives and goals.
- Exploration of team members strengths and individual preferences.
- Agreed ways of working to improve the day to day.
- Opportunity and project identification for future business gains.
- Clarity on roles and responsibilities because the perception can be different to the reality.
- Time to develop skills and sharing of best practises.
“All men can see these tactics whereby I Team Build, but what none can see is the strategy out of which the benefits of Team Building are evolved.” Sun Tzu
This list is of course far from exhaustive and some are easier to measure than others. The importance is in defining the objectives, which will drive the primary outcomes and in turn allow for a structured evaluation, to understand the return on investment.
An event should aim to create a real difference in the way you and your team approach challenges together. We don’t have you climbing mountains or swimming across lakes – we do get into the psychology of true team development making our days about long term development.
For further information, you can find our our Ultimate Guide to Team Building Skills here.
What are the benefits of Team Building you have experienced? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.