What is Deep Team Building?

You attended a “team building” a couple of months ago.  It was a wonderful experience and moral was improved however, the team is distant, not entirely meshing, the deadlines seem to slip, they run into conflict and take too much of your time and energy, what do you do?  Enter Deep Team Building.

“Deep Team Building” (DTB for short) as the name suggests does not just scratch the surface, but goes deeper. The fun is there, and there is much more; DTB is founded on a solid foundation that draws on facilitation, group dynamics, action learning, creativity theory, the science of emergence, and appreciative inquiry. While doing a variety of games and fun activities, the team reflects on the conditions for successful groups they have observed or been part of, they also reflect on what their own experience playing the various games and design activities tells them about teamwork. They discuss what they bring to the team and what others should know about them in order to work with them. Team members explore the meaning of trust and good communication. Furthermore, they explore how they want to work with conflict, the loss of a team members and other issues that pertain to team life. In short DTB is an comprehensive approach.

In its “ideal implementation,” it involves a full day or two half days.  The reason for this is two fold; first, eight hours allow the exploration of the variety of issues relevant to team work while also allowing for the fun activities that serve as a scaffolding. Second, and this is the part that comes from the science of emergence,  one day is the minimum for ideas and relationships (connections) to emerge. Some experts argue, for self managed teams  multiple experience totaling more than seven days are needed.

So is “shallow team building” useful? Yes it is, it is just being misused. It can help build moral and can contribute to the team process when the work of the team is loosely interdependent and the task is very simple.  On the other hand, when the work is highly interdependent, the team’s task is complex and requires a great amount of learning, the issue of team process becomes both central and paramount.  Here, DTB honors the fact that team life is an ongoing journey by providing language and tools that can deal with emerging issues; becoming a “real team” is a process that goes on long after the team building event is over.

Contact Us today to discuss how your group will benefit from a Deep Team Building


From Chaos to Coherence by Peggy Hollman (PDF)

The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

Creative Management (Published in association with The Open University)

Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics (Jossey-Bass Business & Management)

Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century

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