Sharing and building Solution Focused practice in organisations

what is the state of teambuilding where you live?

Team building (or teambuilding, if you like). I have heard so many options presented, I don't know what it really means anymore. It's a golf day. Or a dinner out for the team. Or a movie. Or an art workshop. Or an improv workshop. Or a high ropes course. Or whitewater canoeing. See, it's so many things, has it become a meaningless concept, watered down by too many interpretations, or is it all these things, each as valid as the next? Honestly, I'm confused.

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Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on May 23, 2008 at 11:48
Hi Michael, yes, I experienced such "war stories"... and having shared them with other consultants we found out, that very often "teambuilding" is whished by managers as a "medicine" to "heal" things which are very strong connected with aspects addresed by those questions which should not be asked ....

There is a good article about this topic written by Gunther Schmidt in the journal "Lernende Organisation, Jul/Aug 2001.... You can order the article here:

I also can offer an extract of it - but I see no possibility to attach documents to this comment....

And there is a nice quote from Peter Senge about teambuilding: "Schon oft brachten z.B. Teambildungs-Experimente Manager auf Wildwasserflossen zusammen, aber wenn sie nach Hause zurückkehrten, waren sie in geschäftlichen Fragen genauso zerstritten wie vorher." (P. Senge, Fifth Discipline, p.26 in the German Edition 2001)
Comment by Carole Waskett on May 23, 2008 at 10:58
What I've found so far is that a careful developing of the platform or commissioning bit is the most important - what does the team want to get out of the day? (If they want paintballing etc they go somewhere else).
Often they come down to "getting to know each other better" and "action planning". That fits perfectly with the SF approach (thanks Daniel Meier again). Often the morning will consist of best hopes, what are the team's existing strengths and resources, maybe some fun games; in the afternoon the team begins to develop a preferred future, (lots of ways to do this, perhaps small groups, perhaps drawing or a letter from the future).Then using scaling, where are we now, how did we get to there, what will we all be doing differently, who will notice, etc; now perhaps distil this into various themes and the team decides what's most appropriate and attractive and who wants to work on what areas.
Follow that with small steps to develop an action plan.
I also use the option of the Aston Team Performance Inventory as a first step - evidence based, confidential, non-judgemental, some teams find it really useful, others prefer not - not SF though it works well with an SF approach.
Team building is one of my favourite activities!
All the best,
Comment by Kirsten Dierolf on May 23, 2008 at 7:31
Hi Mike,

same in Germany, I think. I often get asked: "Do you do high-rope, cooking etc." and I would then say: Cooking, yes, High-rope, no (too dangerous and I don't like people pushed out of their physical comfort zones in front of others).
I think planning to have fun together, wasting some time together without business purpose is great for any team (why a trainer needs to be present is beyond me). I have suggested to do a day of sf team development together (aka: solutioncircle by Daniel Meier) and then go have fun and cook, play volleyball, go mountain hiking (but without agenda). So far I have not been taken up on the offer ...

kind regards,
Comment by Yoram Galli on May 23, 2008 at 7:09
Hi Mike,
Your post could be a landmark for an article, if not a book.
Although in literature one finds many time that Team Building and Team Development are synonyms, it is not the same here. They are both interventions (activities, processes) aimed to build, to develop and to empower teams. My differentiation between those two is that TB would be an intervention for a new team = a group of people that start their journey together as a team, and TD would be an intervention for a team with 'history' (a past together as a team). Leading such an intevention the Solution-Focused way, will affect both the initials (SFTB & SFTD) and the way they are executed. In Israel, any outdoor activity will be considered as an acivity by itself (stand alone) or a part of a TB/TD series of activities.
In a nutshell, TB here, will be a workshop (indoor) coducted with a team-to-be.
Cheers & Miracles,
Comment by Michael Goran on May 22, 2008 at 22:44
Nice response Hans-Peter. You must have some 'war' stories to share about asking the wrong questions. So: what are the RIGHT, or useful questions to get the job. These may be very different from the questions asked after you GET the job...yes?
Comment by Hans-Peter Korn on May 22, 2008 at 20:52
You want a short answer? OK: It is a field for doing business with it.
And the best way to earn money is, NOT to ask questions like:
==> What is the difference between a team and a group?
==> What is the outcome of that team which is essential fpr the company?
==> What is the benefit of each member to be in this team?
==> How can each member gain this benefit also outside this team?
==> Who defined what clear purpose of the team - and is willing to stand for this purpose in front of the board of directors?




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