I have a lot of friends who attended b-School at some of our country’s finest institutions. Many of them couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. It occurred to me that no one teaches "fun" as an acceptable team mentality any more. With all the economic pressure, fickle candidates and creativity needed to be successful, why not give these folks a toolkit with something useful — like how to be a manager with a personality.
Here are some "team building activities" I’ve found particularily useful over the years. They’re yours, royalty-free.
The Sitcom Game. I used to cart this game around with me from company to company (or team to team as the case may be). As a child of the 70s, my number one obsession growing up was television. That and the cute boy in my Bat Mitzvah class who found me funny, but not hot. I had a crush on Jack Tripper, saw the first video when MTV launched (Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles for those of you playing the home game), know who shot J.R. Ewing and have watched General Hospital
And so, it is only fitting that my frame of reference in life is TV. So, the next time you and your colleagues need a bit of excitement on a project or team, try this on for size.
Pretend your team / project / company is a sitcom that has not been cast yet. Who would you choose to play everyone (you included)? This works really well as a cocktail hour discussion. There are plenty of examples I could cite where casting agents HAD to be drunk when they cast certain roles – why not you?!
The Personal Ad Game. This came from an obsession with reading twisted personal ads in the local paper. You know, "SWM, old, fat, balding, many disgusting habits seeks SWF with money. Send pictures of your house, car, RV. This could be your lucky day." How could you NOT read these?
Have everyone on your team or project write a personal ad describing themselves, but with no names. Create a mock Personals section, print them all out and have people guess who belongs to what ad. Again, cocktails help. The prize for guessing the most correctly is a subscription to your local "alternative" paper.
For future inspiration.