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Outrigger Canoe Team Building – Out-paddle the Competition!

outrigger canoe team buildingAloha! Last week we gathered with TYR Sport in Long Beach to enjoy a sunset paddle for our Outrigger Canoe Team Building Race event. Participants were treated to a brief lesson on the history of outrigger canoeing in California and a hands-on lesson in paddling. Then it was into the canoes for the tournament!

Our experienced na ho‘okele (steerers) captained each canoe and urged the teams to huki (paddle fast)! Their expertise was welcome since outrigger canoes are much more difficult to navigate than regular boats. Outrigger canoes require synchronicity and communication between teammates. Hence, outrigger racing is perfect for team building! If crews are able to work together they can get their vessels cutting quickly through the waves. Their speed when manned by a cohesive team invokes the memory that these canoes were once used as powerful war vehicles.

outrigger canoe team buildingHere in California, outrigger racing has been a popular sport since 1959. That’s when we held the inaugural race from Orange County to Avalon, Catalina and back. FireFly’s race is much shorter, spanning a football field’s length of sheltered channel. Crews gathered on the sand to cheer on the other teams and await their turn to compete. Soon the instructors shouted “HO‘OMAKAUKAU!” meaning “get ready!” Team members piled into the canoes and set off for the starting line. The chase boat followed along, directing the participants and transporting yours truly to get the best action shots of our athletes. Crews chanted to keep rhythm like dancers or drill sergeants “One, two, one, two!” I think singing Moana songs would have been equally effective. We held many heiheis (races) until we ultimately crowned the victor.

The winners showed off their medals as the sun sank below the horizon. The event was equal parts exhilarating and tranquil. The thrill of physical competition was complimented by the peaceful protected bay and gorgeous weather. Our participants worked up a hearty appetite and certainly deserved the dinner that they headed off to as they outrigger canoe team buildingtraded stories of the day.

Outrigger Canoe Team Building with FireFly Team Events

If your team is up for an adventure, contact us to schedule your own Outrigger Canoe Race and learn the ho‘owala‘au wa‘a (canoe lingo).

Using Video Games as a Team Building Engagement Activity

What if you could diffuse bombs, power spaceships, and scream your lungs out for your next team building or employee engagement activity? I’ve gathered my favorite video games that can be used to explore team building concepts like communication, trust, and big picture thinking. The goal of any team building event should be to increase employee engagement. Why not use video games as that vehicle? My list is focused on challenge and puzzle based interactions. You won’t see World of Warcraft or Minecraft on the list. Those genres have obvious team interactions but take significantly more mastery of skills. If Bob in purchasing can’t pick it up in 5 minutes or less it’s not going to be fun. I chose games that require small learning curves, involve shared team effort, no special gear (2 exceptions), and are crazy fun. There are a couple of titles that snuck onto the list because they’re hilariously fun for groups. 

Remember that just because an activity requires you to work together that doesn’t mean it’s team building. Managers, if you want extract maximum value from your activity, read our post on how to  Turn ANY Office Activity Into a Team Building Event

 video game team building keep talking1. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

http://www.keeptalkinggame.com/

Diffuse the bombs or your team perishes in a flaming fireball. There’s nothing like immolation to push a team to new heights. This is one of my all time favorite collaborative games on a computer. Split your team into two groups the Operators and the Diffusers. Operators get to actually manipulate the bomb. Diffusers have the manual. The catch? Neither side can see what the other is looking at. If you’re on the Operator team you can’t see the manual… if you have the manual, you can’t see the Bomb. You’ll have to use your words and listening skills to collaborate and beat the clock. Failure is not an option! Search the game title on YouTube and you’ll see hilarious examples of teams, couples, friends, and roommates desperately trying to keep it together.

Team Building Notes: You need clear communication to succeed on this challenge. There are easy talking points on using specific language, making assumptions, focusing on details, big picture thinking and shared vernacular. What made you successful? What were your barriers to success?

Variations:

  • Switch Roles
  • Split the manual between multiple people.
  • Play over Skype (great option for teams that telecommute and want to team build remotely)
  • Hire Sandra Bullock to drive a bus with your Operator team on board? If she drops below 60mph everyone loses a vacation day.

blockparty gigantic mechanic2. Block Party from Gigantic Mechanic

http://www.giganticmechanic.com/project/block-party/

Gather 100 of your closest workmates, fire up the projector, and make sure you phone is charged. This Tetris-esque puzzle challenge gives each player a falling shape piece to control. You must combine your piece with other players to fill the shapes at the bottom of the screen as you try and set the highest score possible. I love the simplicity of the controls but the complexity of the interactions. It’s impossible to win at this game without interacting with your fellow players. I witnessed this game in action at Indiecade West and saw first hand the power of group play. Definitely check out the Gigantic Mechanic website and see what else they’re up to. 

Team Building Notes: Clear communication is key but trying to find process in the chaos of large groups is a fascinating challenge. Often you don’t know who is controlling what just by looking at the screen. You’ll need big picture thinking and a shared vernacular to be successful. What skills did you use to be successful? Where do you see situations like this in your daily work like? 

Variations:

  • Pair people up. 1 person controls the game piece but can’t see the screen. Their partner must verbally guide them to place the piece correctly. 
  • Great for telecommuters – Use screen sharing via skype to allow offsite employees to play.

screen capture artemis space simulator3. Artemis Spaceship bridge simulator

http://artemis.eochu.com/

This one is for my true nerds. The sci-fi geeks and Trekkies on your team will giggle like school children in anticipation of operating Artemis’s simulator. The concept is simple – each person has a role from Captain to Navigator to Weapon Control on the spaceship. One computer hosts the simulator and main screen. Each participant’s computer functions as a work station, only showing the controls for their specific role. The Captain doesn’t have a workstation but tells everyone what to do from the middle of the room ( Yes, you can call yourself Captain Kirk). It’s time to save the galaxy!

Game Notes: This does require that each person has their own computer. Also, it’s far more effective if everyone is in the same room. You may need to bribe your local IT guru to help you with the particulars.

space team game screen capture team building4. Space Team

http://spaceteam.ca/

BE PREPARED TO RAISE YOUR VOICE. This hilarious social phone based team building game will have your team trying to pilot a spaceship. The ship will tell you what to do but each player gets different instructions. AND each player has a different set of controls visible on their phone. The instructions have a time limit so you’ll need to execute them or have  team member execute them pronto quick.  The computer might tell you to “Move the Techboggle to 2”, but you don’t have a Techboggle. So you start yelling out “Set Techboggle 2!” until somebody freaking sets it (ahem… sorry)!  Most teams quickly devolve into yelling battles as they try to get their tasks completed. Play this in a coffee shop if you want to get perplexed looks and stares. As a team building professional I’d like to say I exhibit poise and well executed communication strategies when I play this, but that would be a horrible lie.   

Team Building Notes: Easy to recognize metaphors for tunnel vision, project creep, and communication styles. How did your team overcome group noise? What was your method to prioritize tasks? What parallels did you notice with communication on work projects? 

Game Notes:

  • This can only be played if everyone is on the same wifi network. So it’s not suitable for remote teams.

sound activated video game title5. Scream Team

What if you could take a room full of people and control a single character in a video game… enter Scream Team. We modified an existing “runner” “single button” style game. That means the character is in a constant state of forward motion and your job is to press the button at the right times (remember flappy bird?). In this case, our Indiana Jones style character is running through a series of caves. You must help him jump over gaps, pillars, and other obstacles. BUT, we replaced the button with a microphone. As a group you must make noise when you need the character to jump. The louder the noise, the bigger the jump. I had an opportunity to feature our game at the Steam Carnival Gala with 500 people. It was hilarious!!! It works with 1 to 1000 people. Contact james@fireflyteamevents.com for more information.

6. Group Pacman

Trying to describe Pacman to younger generations is an act of comedy. A yellow dot that eats other dots and is scared of ghosts. Despite it’s simplicity there is still a LOT that Pacman has to give. In a normal Pacman session the up,down, left right would be controlled by 1 player. What if you could assign each of those directions to different team members? Bill controls up, Tonya from accounting is down, Satchmo is Right, and Percy is Left…. All to control that beautiful yellow dot. Let the confusion err… communication begin! We have our own version of Pacman that we bring as part of our Human Arcade event. There are free versions of Pacman online that you can easily use.

Tech Note: We created a special controller so that each person has a physical button to press for their direction. That way you’re not all crowded around a little keyboard. For a quick and easy version we recommend using a **MakeyMakey controller. See the note at the end of the article.

Team Building Notes:

  • This activity easily segues into communication styles, assumptions, trust, and shared language. Consider what adjustments you had to make to your communication style to be successful. How was the team effected if you didn’t press your button? How did your team decide to move left vs right? 

Game Notes:

  • Search for Free Pacman or event Free Tetris to put this to the test.
  • Contact james@fireflyteamevents.com for more information if you’re interested in having us bring our controllers and game out.
  • You can scale up and create a tournament with teams of 4 competing to set the top score.

jackbox games logo7. JackBox Games

http://jackboxgames.com/

I’m listing these as a hilarious office interaction and not so much a team builder. We’ll file it under giggles, social credit, and engagement activity. Jackbox is the creator of the infamous You Don’t Know Jack trivia game. They’ve upgraded to the age of the internet and now you play on a single computer using your phone as a controller. It’s pretty dang cool! They even have titles that allow up to 8 people play and up to 10,000 people to spectate. They sell their games in party packs that come with 5 games. 

My favorite of their new party pack is Trivia Murder Party. It’s a fresh take on the game that put them on everyone’s radar. Players must answer trivia questions or risk being killed. Fun right?! Right? No? The premise is that you’re trying to escape from a house with a Saw movie like game master(monster?). Wrong answers force players into mini-challenges where you might have to do math, test your memory, or lose a finger. A “finger” means you are permanently barred from choosing A, B, or C depending on which finger you lose. Diabolical. The game moves at the perfect pace to keep the group engaged. It’s a fun way to break up the workday and bank some social credit with team members. 

The other favorite was Quiplash 2. It’s hilarious! At the start each person is given 2 prompts to answer secretly. Each prompt will have a possible answer from 2 of the players. They must provide an answer to the prompt that they think their teammates will vote for. Once all answers are entered, the game displays them one by one for voting. Your answer is displayed anonymously next to someone else’s for the voting.  Once the voting is finished the creators of the answers are revealed as well as who voted for them. The humor is in the answers themselves…. You may need to re-visit your HR conduct standards since people can write whatever they want.

Gameplay Variations:

  • Base all year end bonuses on the performance of employees during the game (kidding)
  • Team up players from different departments
  • Challenge different departments to a match – use the spectator function (think audience)
  • There is absolutely a team benefit to laughing together

Game Notes:

  • Working Remotely – The game is not built to be played remotely BUT we have a way. Since your controller is your phone, you can screen share the game via Skype for a remote colleague. Mind blown? We’re that good. It’s a great way to get some remote team building (loosely using the term) in on a work day. 

shackle vr game8. Shackle

http://shackle-game.com/

I made a pilgrimage to Indiecade West this year. I wanted to witness their “big games” and see what independent game developers were crafting in their underground lairs. The team behind Shackles have hatched a beautifully sadistic 2 player cooperative experience. In the game players are trapped on opposite sides of a creepy haunted room. Actions one player takes on their side of the room may affect their co-captive on the other side. Make too much noise and you might attract the attention of things that lurk in dark places. The game is played with Oculus VR headsets so the horror is very immersive. Prepare to be startled or spooked as you try and escape in this dark team building activity.

Team Building Notes:

  • Scary haunted rooms and poorly supported projects are very similar. Right?
  • Communication and trust are the obvious team aspects being put to the test.
  • You know what’s fun? Having 2 people start the game – then turn off all the lights and have everyone leave the room and go for drinks. Okay that might not be team building.

Game Notes:

  • This requires 2 Oculus Rift headsets and headphones with a mic.

Video game corporate team building screenshot9. Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time

http://www.loversinadangerousspacetime.com/

I pestered Laura E. Hall to see if she had a line on some good collaborative titles. She immediately responded back with “Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time”. And it’s perfect. You and 3 teammates are cruising through a neon galaxy, in your own battleship, trying to defeat the enemies of love. You’ll have to operate the guns, fly the ship and position shields in a hectic good time mess of space war. In between battles you find poignant moments of appreciation for the effort, communication, and multitasking that you and your team had to employ. You’ll find yourself calling out enemies and high fiving teammates when they make a great shot. The makers call this game a “couch co-op” and we love it. Succeeding in this game means you’ve got a solid team platform.

Team Building Notes:

  • Multitasking, trust, communication and resource management are major factors in success. Can you see parallels between how your team handled this game and the way they approach real world projects?

 

** The Makey Makey

makey makey controllerAs a team building professional I can devise some beautiful interactions for the Makey Makey. It’s a controller that lets you turn anything into a button. What I love is that it also allows you to move the buttons away from the computer. As I mentioned above, it’s a great way to turn a game like Tetris or Pacman into a cooperative game and team building activity. To learn how to use the Makey Makey, check out their website at http://makeymakey.com/  – I recommend their “classic” version.

Honorable Mentions:

I haven’t had a chance to vette the titles below.  They make the list because they have cooperative gameplay elements. That means they’re great for teams. 

bff or die video game 10. BFF or Die

.http://www.honeytribestudios.com/studio-news/bff-or-die

Help each other or die. The only way you can win this game is to work together solving puzzles, strategizing, and kicking butt. No single player can do all the things so you’ll need to rely on each other. It’s cute and dangerous and I can’t wait to play.

 

overcooked video game11. Overcooked

.http://www.ghosttowngames.com/overcooked/

You and your team of cooks must prepare and serve meals to your waitings guest. Will your kitchen be a well oiled machine? Or a kitchen nightmare that no one can recover from? Responsibility for success at this game come from all 4 players.

BIG THANKS to Laura E Hall for querying her room full of games for some of the suggestions on this list. Also thanks to an awesome game programmer Christian Scandariato who also chimed in for me.  And a long time evil genius Jason Le

About the Author:

I am a HUGE fan of game mechanics especially as it relates to teams and team building. My passion is working with hundreds of teams every year as the CEO of Firefly Team Events. I scour the world for new group activities, interactions, and challenges that I can modify to help teams elevate their performance. I am a team building nerd. You can reach me at james@fireflyteamevents.com

team building graffiti

3 Creative Los Angeles Team Building Ideas

Los Angeles is a mecca for the arts. From Hollywood starlets to modern art exhibits, LA is saturated with creativity. You don’t have to be a skilled artist to benefit from the out of the box thinking the city is known for. Many worry about the quality of their artistic exploits, but as with all team building endeavors it is the process that yields the value. To encourage innovation from your group, consider these unique, creative team building ideas.

Launch It!
Who ever said scientists aren’t creative? With Jet Propulsion Laboratory minutes away, be inspired to blast off! We provide the materials and guidance to help your sales team go to infinity and beyond during our Rocket Design Challenge. Construct your team’s bottle rockets with an eye for distance, accuracy, and design. After you’ve used as much glitter glue as possible to attach the awesome cardboard wings you designed, we’ll set up the launch pad where teams will compete to see who made the best rocket designs. It’s 3, 2, 1…blast off as your rockets soar into the sky. You’d be blown away by how far these things fly!

Play It!
Want to inspire creativity and inspiration? Everyone loves playing games like Tetris and Pac Man, but we don’t want to isolate ourselves with these single player pleasures. At our Team Arcade we get everyone in on the fun. Utilizing a makeymakey controller, we allow your team to become game designers where anything can be a button. We pair challenges with creativity techniques that can boost your innovation curve back in the office. Teams will collaborate to create solutions that land outside the box in this team building event. Don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy, we’ve simplified the technology so ANYONE can be a creator.

Paint It!
As you travel through Los Angeles you’ll notice there’s some graffiti that looks more like art and less like tagging. That impressive graphic was more likely a commissioned masterpiece than a misdemeanor. In fact graffiti has landed on the walls of art museums all over the world. Experience this unique modern art form with our team building graffiti events. We bring in a world class professional graffiti artist to help each person design their own tag, and then we have everyone contribute to the group mural. No art degree is required, just be ready to have fun and maybe get a bit of paint on your hands.

Don’t be scared by any perceived lack of talent. Our creative team building events are focused on fun and innovation. To get your creative juices flowing contact james@fireflyteamevents.com

corporate escape rooms

Escape Rooms and Corporate Team Building – Do They Work?

If your pulse is pounding, the door is locked, a zombie is chained to the wall, and the only way out is to solve a puzzle then you know you’re in an Escape Room. It’s the latest craze to capture the interest of companies that want a unique team building experience. Many escape rooms are advertising their experience as a “team building” opportunity. It’s true that escape rooms require groups to communicate, collaborate, vie for leadership, solve problems, and produce results under pressure… But the shared experience alone is not enough to have a true impact on your team and their workplace performance.

In team building the experience is only a vehicle.   Whether you’re escaping a room or assembling bikes for charity, the true impact occurs when teams reflect on their experience: why they made certain choices, how they approach conflict, who stepped into leadership roles, what language they used. ”Team building” occurs when the group reflects and finds meaning in the experience, and applies it to their patterns of behavior in the workplace. An escape room can be a valuable tool for team building when utilized properly.

Making an Escape Room a True Team Building Experience

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of an escape experience.

Partner with a Professional Facilitator :  A facilitator will work with the escape room to explore challenges the team will be facing, methods of observation, and formulate a plan for processing the experience.   Following the team’s escape the facilitator will help the group reflect and draw meaning from the experience.

Book More Time: Most escape experiences last about an hour. If you’re partnering with a facilitator consider tacking on at least an extra hour to debrief the experience.

Consider 2 Escapes: After the first room your team will be armed with new insights that they can test in the second escape. A second escape creates more data that will help illuminate behavior patterns, breakdowns in communication, or team strengths.

Is an Escape Room Right For Your Team?

Escape rooms are not a perfect fit for every group. It’s a tool or sometimes a pleasant distraction and should be fitted to the group.  Here’s a few points to consider when escape rooms are an option:

Puzzles, Puzzles, and Puzzles:  The people drawn to escape rooms are puzzle people because escape rooms focus on puzzles.  In a corporate event you’ll have a mix of people that love puzzles and those that don’t. Because this is a “work event” your non-puzzlers can’t opt out. If they’re not engaged then they can become a distraction or at the very least feel like they can’t contribute.

Require People to “Pretend”: I love a good theme but it shouldn’t cross the line into acting. When I approach any event design I make sure we’re designing for the group personality and not an individual’s. I’ve found that most group personalities do not appreciate being asked to “pretend” or suspend disbelief. I get the most rolled eyeballs from people when they recall an event where they had to pretend to be secret agents or cross a river of lava.

Can We Supersize That: Consider that most rooms have a participation cap of 3-10 people. You will occasionally find some with 15 and the rare one that can handle 15+.

Escape rooms are a great way to engage and challenge your team in a unique environment. If handled properly they can be a great tool for team building. Before you face down the zombie consider what it might represent in your business. What rooms has your team locked themselves in? What does escaping the room represent on your team’s journey?

We’ve recently added an escape style event to our roster. As life long game designers escape rooms fit like a glove. Schedule your next team building adventure with us – 877.267.7149

We love working with team building groups in Las Vegas, Orange County, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and San Diego.

Orange County Team Building that Gives Back: Corporate Social Responsibility

Charity team BuildingCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in team building usually refers to adding a charitable or environmental element to your event. The combination of CSR with team building can lead to community involvement, environmental stewardship and it shows the world what your company stands for. Studies have shown that employee retention is stronger when employees are allowed to devote a portion of their work week to volunteering. A great CSR event is energizing and inspiring and often leads to a more productive workforce.  In 2014 Hewlett-Packard had 40,000 employees in 82 countries log more than 1.6 million volunteer hours. What will your impact be?

Need ideas? We LOVE partnering with companies that want to make a difference. We are constantly finding new ways to partner our clients and worthy causes. Our most common charitable team building events are the Charity Bike Build and the Care Package Assembly. These are common sights at Sales Conferences, quarterly meetings, and incentive trips here in Orange County. The beauty of either of these events is that there is always a need and we can complete an event in a couple of hours.

What if I want to do MORE? Your people are your biggest resource because of the skills, knowledge, and heart they bring to your organization. What if you could leverage that skill on behalf of a local charity? You probably have people dedicated to sales, marketing, and technical areas. Why not channel their talent to revitalize the processes, marketing materials, and website of a local charity? Instead of helping a few people, you lay the groundwork for exponential good. Charities often lack the funds or expertise to accomplish what your team could do in a single session. Charitable team building shouldn’t always be about donating it should also be about empowering, teaching, and inspiring. Our  Help-A-Thon service is perfect for facilitating these types of interactions. Interested? Call us at 877.267.1939 or email james@fireflyteamevents.com

 

Team Building Events in Irvine, CA – Graffiti Art

Team Building GraffitiMural Madness – Graffiti Team Building

Want to stand out? Need a memorable Irvine team building event? Treat your employees to a hip urban adventure that centers around graffiti. We perfectly blend graffiti art and our high energy fun team events to create a unique outing for your group. Watch as your coworkers create amazing murals on canvas using spray paint. Our professional artists and facilitators will guide your team through the creative process. Along the way we’ll use team building challenges to allow them to earn bonus items like new colors, stencils, and more. This is a rare glimpse into an exciting counter-culture that people will talk about for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do i need to be artistic?

Absolutely Not!!! This is event is for everyone! In addition to spray painting there are team challenges and more to keep everyone involved.

Can we do this inside?

This event thrives outdoors. It’s a great chance to get outside, soak up the sun, and have some fun. We don’t recommend doing this event indoors.

Where do you usually do this event?

Public parks, parking lots, and parking structures are common spots. Graffiti is an urban art form and we love finding unique city locations like alleyways, plazas, etc where we can get permits to set-up up canvases and have fun.

What do we paint on?

You’ll create what we call a “piece” or “masterpiece” by painting on either cardboard flats or a canvas depending on the end goal for your event.

Will this get on my clothes?

Nope, we provide all necessary protective gear like smocks, gloves, and masks.

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To get a quote or ask additional questions please contact James Bennett at 949.439.9641 or james@fireflygroupevents.com

 

2 Alternative Team Building Ideas: Orange County Team Building

Already done a scavenger hunt? Need a new idea? We love fresh new corporate team building events that we can offer our clients! Here’s two ideas that are definitely NOT your traditional team event and perfect for Orange County, Anaheim, or Los Angeles.

Mural Madness – Graffiti Lessons as Team Building

Move over Banksy! NO ARTISTIC SKILL NEEDED! Want a group activity to break-up the powerpoints? Let them experience the thrill of creating a new memory through graffiti. Our graffiti lesson focuses on the the act of creating a masterpiece. Your team will get a lesson from our world class graffiti and street artists. They’ll learn about flares, fades, and can control. Then they’ll combine efforts with the artists to create a gallery worthy work of art. It’s a fast, fun, and rewarding team event that they’ll talk about for a long time.

Tactical Team Up – Weapons training as Team Building

Want to add some excitement to the work day or conference?  We’ll put your team in front of advanced weapons simulators & tactical training session. Drop them into an adrenaline charged scenario and let them take care of business! How will your team stack up against our virtual assailants and adrenaline spiking scenarios?

Call us at 877.267.1939 to discuss ideas or pricing in Orange County or surrounding areas. You can also reach us at james@fireflygroupevents.com