“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Helen Keller


Teamwork is one of our most urgent and least understood needs.  We know it's important but years of teambuilding activities have created more skepticism than success.

What is a team?

To build anything, you need to know what you are building, so what is a team? The definition we use is, “A group of people, united by a common purpose, and moving toward a shared goal”. There are three parts to a team, a group, something to unite them, and movement. If you are missing any of these three parts you no longer have a team.

How do you build a team?

You build a team by strengthening each of the three essential elements of the team. This is the unique focus of our teambuilding process.

A group of people:

Each team member needs to understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from everyone else. It is surprising to find how many people don't understand the roles and responsibilities of other team members.

A few years ago I did a teambuilding workshop for a group that had worked together for years. They were not having any serious problems, just thought it would be nice to do a teambuilding workshop. I took them through a process to document exactly what each person did. We started with their job descriptions and created a big chart on the wall, adding or taking away responsibilities until everyone agreed their job was recorded correctly. The chart had a row for each team member, showing all of their responsibilities in columns by general subject. When they had finished and could see what everyone in the group was responsible for I began to hear comments like, “What? That's YOUR job? I thought that was MY job!”, and “I always though YOU did that.”. After the workshop their director was the last to leave. He was standing in front of the chart silently and finally said to me, “When you told me we needed to do this I thought it was a waste of time but I didn't feel like arguing. Now I see I couldn't do my job without it.”

We do a lot more than roles and responsibilities, but you see how important this can be.

A common purpose:

This is really the team's vision statement. Here too, people often think there is already agreement, but there can be more ambiguity than you might think. If you were to have each person write exactly why the team is together the general theme would probably be consistent, but people don't unite behind general themes. It doesn't usually take long to develop this clear definition, but it is absolutely essential.


Here is where most of the work is done. Now that the team understands who they work with and why, they are ready to clearly define how they will work together. The group needs to understand the procedures they will use, the tools they have at their disposal, limits to their authority, etc,


A teambuilding workshop should be fun, and they are. But as much as we like having fun, it is a tool not the goal. When people are having fun they do better work, but the emphasis is helping the team work together effectively.