Team Building Theory vs. Practice

Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark, project Manager / content strategy, VIA Studio

by Kimberly Clark, Ignite Louisville Class of 2013 –

The members of the 2013 Ignite Louisville class are busy, involved people dedicated to their professions, families and individual interests. We all lead full lives, yet we have each chosen to connect with a group of individuals we don’t know anything about. With this choice comes a commitment to each other to give what is required to the program and our chosen projects for the duration of this course.

On the 2nd day of our opening retreat we discussed how to best facilitate a good team dynamic. It occurred to me that through any challenge, the path to success requires certain qualities:

  1. The ability to quickly adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of others 
  2. Trust: the belief that others are capable of handling the challenges in front of them

Do a Google search for “Team Building Exercises.” You will find many suggestions for games and puzzles intended to encourage groups to communicate with each other while actively problem solving. These games are excellent opportunities to get team members thinking outside their typical roles, and while most professionals aren’t usually challenged with rope courses or ball balancing in their day to day routines, these activities provide excellent examples of dynamic group work and on-the-spot decision making.

I was surprised the lessons I extracted from these games had nothing to do with anyone’s balancing skills or decision-making abilities. More than anything else, I was struck by the instant admiration, trust and respect I felt for the dynamic group before me.  The need for a quick assessment of skills and talents based on little knowledge of the individuals involved is a skill in its own right.

Growing my ability to quickly discern and assess these individual talents and skills and trusting myself to make decisions to allow others to fulfill their commitments is an important leadership quality I am most interested in developing further through my experiences with Ignite Louisville and my fellow 2013 classmates.

Kimberly Clark, project manager / content strategy, VIA Studio