Let the games begin
I lean to the boondoggle side, although I think they can be valuable for new teams or organizational teams like we create in ACHE and TACHE. But for established working groups, not so much. From Newsweek.com.
And when play consists of a California wine tasting followed by a giddy sangria-making contest topped off with party hats and wobbly conga lines, is anybody really learning anything?
Possibly, says professor Michael Useem of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, but it depends almost entirely upon whether a military-style debriefing summing up the key points of the exercise is done when the playing has stopped. “Velcro-ing yourself to a wall won’t do a thing for you, but if it’s framed as decision-making leadership and teamwork, it can work,” says Useem, director of the school’s Center for Leadership and Change Management.
“They’re a management boondoggle—a waste of time,” says Michael Driscoll, a clinical professor of finance at Adelphi University who was a top trader on Wall Street for Bear Stearns and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, now owned by Credit Suisse. He recalled an annual team-building exercise, when he was a trader for GeoSphere Capital Management, a small New York hedge fund, that involved flying in employees and their spouses from Singapore to a conference center in picturesque Rye Brook, north of Manhattan. The purpose: to work, amid jargon-laden speeches about “idea bouncing.”
“Did it really accomplish anything?” asks Driscoll rhetorically. “No. We already work 360 days a year with each other. You’re not going to discover something new.”