May 10, 2011

Human Team Building

Can you imagine a company whose proposed services consist on taking your employees out to the real World to give a hand to those in need, in a gesture of solidarity, while experiencing a team building event, strengthening their cohesion through a very supportive and human action?

Organizations such as Hu-Bu (nominated under "Best HR Initiative of the Year 2010" category at the Belgian HR Excellence Awards) or Serve the City well prove that we are not talking dreams. Their work is to offer an unforgettable team building experience to their clients, on one side, and to give a real hand to helpless collectivities, by linking the ones with the others. Example of team building actions are: a group of employees organizing and serving on a social canteen, cleaning the facilities of an impoverished school, assisting elder people or helping out students in need with their homework...

With dozens of beneficial experiences already managed, these organizations affirm that the win-win-win output here is clear: the participant team is more strengthened than with usual away-days (given the fact that their experience is more human, meaningful and located on the real World), plus the cost of the team building is infinitely lower for their employer, meeting also social corporate responsibility goals. On the other hand, groups with basic needs are helped with concrete actions, stemming from their own evaluation of their needs. And finally, by shortening disparities, a societal mission is fulfilled, so society as a whole (or a district, city, region...) can benefit from it. 

Is this not an excellent idea? Maybe the future of team building?


Other initiatives:

Apr 22, 2011

Planning Team Building Efficiently

One of the most intriguing features of some terms related to the educational and learning sphere is the fact that, however they are used and whoever uses them, they remain ambiguous concepts. That is the case of the term that gives this blog its eloquent title: team building. It is simply understood differently by different people. Training consultancies, e-learning providers, coaches,… everybody in the  L&D field talks about team building. Yet the first obstacles amongst these professionals arise when it comes to agree on “what we mean by it, and what we want to reach through team building”.


In a company where I worked years ago, a manager used to do team building actions by bringing colleagues play some bowling once every month. Along with general efforts to keep a cheerful work environment, that was all they said they did as team building. Was it? In some companies, management organizes dinners, in other, they held more corporate events showing results along with “visions and missions”, in other, they call team building social activities such as going to the movies altogether or calling a catering for a convivial colleague breakfast… Can informal gatherings, colleagues going out, friendly dinners, be considered as actions that actually build teams? Well… I would not say totally no, but I would not say yes either.

Why then can that kind of activities not be called team building? For team building being professional, a deep and wide analysis ought to be done.

First, because from a micro-level perspective, the effect of team building actions on personnel depends on a multiplicity of factors: as psychological science has been demonstrating for decades, individuals react differently to a same stimulus. Furthermore, the range of effects that different stimuli can have in a single but diverse group of people can be as wide as -sometimes- unpredictable.

Then, because the personality, experience, intrinsic motivation, preparation and material resources that the facilitators bring into it play a crucial part. So do their emotional intelligence (both management and expression of emotions), group time management, and imbued personal styles – and more unstable factors such as their status within the organization or even their mood at that moment!

Moreover, because there are variables beyond the individual, linked to organizations’ cultures and structures, that determine the context of the specific actions.  The voluntary vs compulsory nature of the activity itself (is that an optional or an obligatory training? have the participants come up with good ideas during its preparation? to what extent the groups wish to be involved?), the expectations around its outcomes (will that decide fundamental organizational changes? could it affect anybody negatively?), the managerial support given, its fit within a permanent training framework or policy… are all factors that can lead to either the success or the failure of a team building action, from a mezzo-level point of view.

Last, macro-level factors in the organization’s immediate business context, such as the current stage of the economic cycle, market competition or specific legislation, surround the development of team building actions.

Thus, analyzing these micro, mezzo and macro-level factors, will assist much in taking decisions around a particular team building (professional, needless to say) action to be made, improving the whole process from design to outcomes’ evaluation over time, increasing its whole efficiency and ROI ultimately.

Feb 13, 2011

Media & Learning Brussels Conference 2010

Last 25 and 26 November took place the 2010 edition of Media & Learning Brussels, the biggest conference on media and technology for learning that takes place every year in Belgium. This edition attracted over 230 people from 31 countries interested in how media can be used to enhance learning opportunities for all citizens. Supported by DG EAC Lifelong Learning Program, the Flemish Ministry of Education (its headquarters being the venue) and ATiT, and sponsored by top ICT organizations, it constitutes a unique forum of discussion over the present path and the future challenges of instructional media and the configuration of collaborative and resource networks for trainers, teachers, higher education institutions and companies. In addition, this is the setting where the MEDEA Awards are given every year. This event has also the handy particularity of always taking place just one week before Online Educa Berlin.

Jan 11, 2011

Education (and training)'s current transitional days

As Plutarch said in the II century, "the spirit is not a container to be filled, but rather a fire to be sparked". From dramatically wasted talent to the urgency in redefining the fundamentals of pedagogy, from the so encouraged stigmatization of non-stream skills to the impoverishing panic to making mistakes, from the misconception of intelligences to the blindness face to the power of collaboration... a look to the main challenges of education (and development) in the XIX century. Our sons will thank us tomorrow. For sure.

Ideas Factory Annual Seminar on youth unemployment across the EU

Just reflected on the Ideas Factory 2011 Annual Seminar I attended yesterday evening - an enthusiast, open discussion with the very clear title ‘Saving a generation: Is the fight against youth unemployment on the right track?’. On its programme, guest speakers Giuseppe Porcaro, Secretary General of the Brussels-based European Youth Forum, accompanied by a Member of Commissioner Vassiliou’s cabinet particularly keen on education matters, Jonathan Hill. The agenda was moderated by EU Observer‘s journalist Méabh McMahon. And in the front line, a specialized analysis on what is happening with the current cohorts of European youth, along with an introductory set of stimulating questions over what can public and private stakeholders do and how each of us can contribute to straighten out the rather alarming trends depicted by labour markets.

 Source: Employment in Europe 2010

Giving birth

What is more breathtaking than giving birth to an initiative full of creativity, innovative resources and shared inspiration?