Successful Meetings
September2002


TEAM-BUILDING WITH A TWIST

Sales meeting, June 19, Newport, Rhode Island

Captain Bob Tiedemann is about to throw his crew for a loop. His shipmates - a group of 15 salespeople from a small medical equipment company - have come to Newport, Rhode Island, this June morning to learn how to work better together as a team.

All morning, they've been cruising along the Narragansett Bay, each member - CEO and junior sales rep alike - playing a role to keep their sailing vessel, Gleam, running smoothly. But just as they begin to relax, the Captain, whose company, Seascope Yacht Charters, frequently takes groups on teambuilding jaunts, decides to make it interesting: He tells them there is to be no speaking among the crew as they work. This makes sailing infinitely more difficult, since particular tasks must be completed first before others can be taken on, and decisions must be made as to the right way to go about completing each task.

After a few minutes, the frustrating exercise is over, but a lesson is learned: No one person can run the ship; only through the judicious use of information from all quarters can the vessel stay afloat. The parallels between these exercises and team members' jobs back on land are intentionally obvious.

The rest of the day is spent sailing at a leisurely pace. Back at the harbor, team members share what they've learned at sea. Hopefully, the captain's lessons will linger much longer than their suntans.

Robert Carey

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