I recently presented a teambuilding program for faculty of a dental school. The objective was to help re-connect them to a sense of family and community that had been created and fostered by a former dean. We decided on an experiential exercise in the afternoon, called One Red Paperclip
. You may have seen a 20-20 television segment
a few years back about a young man who decided to try to get a house by starting with one red paperclip and "trading up" for things of greater value. It only took 14 trades to reach his goal.
We broke the group of 300 into smaller groups of 50 or less and gave them one "silver" paperclip and 90 minutes to organize, strategize, and compete to raise the most money for a charity of their choice (a woman's and children's shelter.) They could use any resource: cell phones, internet, strangers on the street. Their job was to "trade up" their paperclip for something of greater value and then "re-trade" that for something bigger until they ran out of time. In the end, they had to convert their final trade to money. In 90 minutes, they had to be back in the room and present a pledge or actual cash.
It was fascinating to watch the process. In the beginning, in most groups, there was a mixture of disbelief, chaos, even frustration about the lack of direction given and the enormity, even ridiculousness, of the task. They struggled through the process of organizing, leading, and coalescing to form a strategic plan to accomplish the seemingly impossible. I mean really, who would trade anything for a paperclip
? But at about the 30-minute mark, we started to feel the creative juices flowing and felt a substantial shift in the energy in the room.
Guess what? Together, in 90 minutes, 300 people collectively raised over $10,000! They, and we, were astounded. More importantly, we all witnessed teams of people from different departments within the organization and from vastly different walks of life, come together and accomplish an amazing outcome. It took believing that there was a way, an idea that would work even in the face of all logic to the contrary. Each team had a completely different approach demonstrating that there is not just one good idea in a group but many.
This week as you come together as a team, in your business and in your family, understand there is more creativity in you and more ideas and resolutions to the challenges you face than you ever dreamed.
Even when the challenges seem impossible to solve, your colleagues, friends, and family members have creativity they are not tapping in to and ideas they aren't sharing. And there is gold in those ideas. Make sure you are creating a culture where those ideas are expected, encouraged, and facilitated and where the expectation is that there is an answer for every challenge within the team just waiting to be heard and realized.
Keep looking, keep asking, keep creating!