A while ago I was asked by one of our clients to organize a mini team-building for a global project team kick off. Should not be so difficult you would think? The real challenge was that I was told not to spend any money!  So there I was with a group of 20 people, each with their different views, opposite opinions and maybe even hidden agendas and with absolutely no budget.
What could I do to bring these people closer together? It was clear to me they needed to bond in a short and effective way. The kick off workshop was being held during the last weeks of the summer, in a hotel situated in a very beautiful landscape of woods and gardens. . The idea of an inspirational walk was born. It was clear to me that the inspirational walk had one important goal: getting to know one another in a different way than talking business.

Luckily, on the day, the weather gods were kind. I knew that the way I introduced the whole approach was going to be key so I asked in my introduction for two team members (who had known each other for years) to share with the group things they knew about each other. As predicted, they quickly came to the conclusion that they only knew their marital status and the number of children they had, and that they couldn’t really answer the question in any more detail.

Next, I distributed at random, one inspirational quote to each of the delegates. And then gave them the following tasks:

  1. Read the inspirational quote and take it with you during the walk
  2. Think about your passion (NOT WORK)
  3. Pick a buddy and go for a walk in the forest
  4. One of you goes first. During the first 10 min. explain what you are passionate about, your buddy listens very actively, no questions asked
  5. During the next 5 min. walk in complete silence, enjoy the nature
  6. For the next 10 min. your buddy will talk about his/her passion, no questions asked
  7. The next 5 min walk together in complete silence
  8. Now you have 10 minutes to ask questions
  9. Read your inspirational quote, discuss it with your buddy or enjoy the silence on your way back to the hotel.

Now, I can imagine you are asking yourself: is this all there is to it?
Well yes it was… When the team members returned and shared their experience in the group, they all seemed very relaxed. They explained that my exercise gave them a complete other view on their teammate and it created a bond, trust and respect for one another, in a way they did not expect.

The result was that the difficult workshops started with a good feeling, an open attitude and the belief that they would make it, and I can tell you they did!

Enjoy your day!

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet – Thich Nhat Hanh