On a crispy and sunny winter morning, a team of adventurous executives from Atos Medical was having breakfast, sitting around a bonfire outside of a ski chalet on the Asiago Plateau. It was an unusual start to their day, but – having been our clients for some time now – they were used to expecting the unexpected. Adventures aren’t necessarily something that happens only in the past and in faraway lands. In this case, for instance, our group only had to travel a few miles, from nearby Padova, to find themselves in the perfect setting for an unforgettable team building adventure.
The location – Prunno, Asiago
Italy makes a team building planner’s life easy. It doesn’t matter where you are at any given time, you are an hour away (two at worst) from a fantastic natural location that will make your event memorable and exciting. The one we chose as our headquarters for this experience is called Prunno and it is a unique adventure base on the Asiago Plateau, offering a wide range of terrific outdoor activities and with its own restaurant, specialising in mouth-watering local recipes. The base enjoys a spectacular view, set in a beautiful meadow surrounded by woodlands, it’s more approachable than the nearby alpine peaks, but still as detached from the bustling metropolitan vibe of the north-eastern industrial district as it is possible to be. The meadow, incidentally, is the ideal spot for a bonfire.
What we wanted for our client was some quality-time away from the office, doing something unusual and exciting. That’s our simple-yet-always-effective recipe for adventure team building. We know, however, that busy execs, on an average day, don’t have time to train for extreme sports, so we needed our chosen activity to be safe and approachable even by those with no previous experience of it. We divided the group into four teams and gave each team compasses and customised maps. Their job was to find their way through the woods and the valley and reach seven hidden locations. Each stop gave them a chance to win points for the team, either by getting their maps stamped or by successfully completing certain tasks – such as shooting an arrow while blindfolded, lighting a fire with nothing but stones and sticks, climbing a tree or building a stilt house. Of course, for each and every one of these activities, we hired trained professionals to guide our team and make sure each task was undertaken in total safety. Once all teams had completed their set missions, we welcomed them back to our operative base with a cool Spritz and a selection of local delicacies (the legendary Asiago cheese). The day ended with a delicious dinner at the chalet’s restaurant.
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Our team building goals
What’s the point of roaming through the woods with your colleagues on a weekend, instead of, say, spending it at home with your family, binge-watching Breaking Bad for the fifth time? There are several benefits to this particular kind of team building activity. Spending quality time with your co-workers is essential, of course, but that’s not all there is to it. When a team comes together in an unusual situation, members that usually lag behind others and tend to follow, rather than contribute actively to the team’s work, tend to participate more, releasing a whole untapped potential of ideas and creativity. This works on an individual level, in that it gives confidence to those who tend to be gregarious and not speak up, and on a group level, because it adds to the collective brainpower. Another effect that these activities tend to have is a natural strengthening of leadership skills. Because the skillset required to find your way through a patch of woodland is not the same as the one needed to design medical equipment or plan a quarterly budget, participants might be surprised by the fact that the overall balance of leadership may shift dramatically, altering hierarchies in a fun, healthy and non-threatening way. Finally, exercises like this one are an excellent way of building trust: when cast in an unknown environment, members of any randomly selected team will come together and learn to rely on each other to get to the end of their assigned task.