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Far Reach Core Value #7: We're a Team

Far Reach Core Value #7 We're a TeamFar Reach Core Value #7—We’re a Team—defines teamwork as more than just sheer numbers. It’s about sharing a journey together in which we all give something of ourselves in support of the people around us.

At our Huddle focused on Core Value #7, we completed a team-building exercise called the Marshmallow Challenge. In this exercise, competing teams are given the goal of building the tallest free-standing structure that will support a jumbo marshmallow, with limited time and supplies.

This particular challenge has been studied with a variety of participants. Surprisingly (or maybe not), these studies have shown recent business school graduates perform significantly worse on the marshmallow challenge than recent kindergarten graduates. 

Why? First of all, kindergartners don't spend time trying to jockey for power. Second, business graduates are trained to find the single best answer—they spend most of their time trying to plan the perfect structure. They're left with little time to execute and have to build in crisis mode. Kindergartners, on the other hand, dig in and get to work. They prototype, they fail, they adjust. They're fearless. After completing the challenge, we discussed the qualities of successful teams:
  • Harmony (no jockeying for power)
  • Cooperation
  • Open mindedness
  • Willingness to both give and receive constructive criticism
  • Offering and being open to ideas
Take a look at the video that inspired our Marshmallow Challenge:

We also discussed the team at  IDEO, a design firm that helps organizations innovate and grow. IDEO has an incredibly eclectic team, with the only common thread being creativity and expertise in how to design things. The organization is very flat, giving every team member an equal stake in success. Check out this video from ABC's Nightline on IDEO.

“Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius.” is the perfect summation of IDEO’s philosophy. A couple of key takeaways from the video regarding successful teamwork and innovation are:
  • Imposing time constraints, in a flexible environment like IDEO’s, drives innovation.
  • Diverse teams are the most innovative.  Don’t be afraid to make unconventional choices when building your team.
What are your favorite team-building exercises? What qualities do you think make a team stronger?  Please let us know in the comments below.