January 23, 2008
I gotta say, I don't think my current employer has really nailed all-division team building exercises.
Yesterday at the Hynes Convention Center they asked everyone to take two of the inflated balloons that were lying about, and write their name and a problem the company has on each.
Which, well you know. It's kind of hard to be sincere with your name on it, or at least it gives one pause.
Then they had us line up on opposite sides of the wall, and walk to the other side, but you couldn't carry the balloons, you had to bounce/juggle them over.
Then, when on the other side, pick one of your balloons and pop it.
It wasn't clear what the underlying metaphor was meant to be. Up 'til the popping, it might've been "see? All our problems are mixed up, and your problem is everyone's problem". But then it was like "well you carried your problem and now the company asks you to ignore it." Or something.
And the popping was LOUD and scary. (Sort of reminds me of the old Fox News BALLOONS: Why are they so DEADLY I posted a way back) Plus the balloons were overinflated in general, so intermittent popping went on through most of the day's presentation
Sometime after lunch, they asked us to line up around the outside of the room in order of birthday-in-year, holding our remaining balloon. (Assuming you still had it, after the room crossing and random post facto popping) Then we were asked to either A. find someone to help us solve our problem B. decide to live with it. C. figure out how to solve it ourselves. Then they said there was supposed to be a ceremonial popping after ten minutes, but I think most people decided to pop after finishing A B or C, or something. And I don't know why we lined up by birthday, except maybe as a generic "talk to other people" exercise.
So I have to say by most measures (aesthetic, camaraderie-inducing, metaphoric, confidence-building, non-trauma-inducing) these balloons were not a success.
On the other hand, the schwag from the day is pretty decent, I like the hoodies they were giving out. And overall, I like where my company is going, it's just these events that make be look askance.
Quote of the Moment
"A physicist is the atoms' way of thinking about atoms."
--Anonymous, via Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything."