guest post from friend Mark Walsh


Extreme Team Building!!!

There are many things that would bring people together and make great team building if only they weren’t highly inappropriate for a business training context!

This article is a tongue-in-cheek look at some things that would make great build teams exceptionally well but that no training provider would dream of (even in or San Francisco or Brighton – the liberal haven in the Sussex, UK where I live). Each of them also illustrates some serious team development points.


Cult Membership Team Building

Companies and other corporate organisations have been brainwashing new employees in sinister “inductions” for years, so why not take this to the extreme and initiate employees into a cult? If you’ve been to an Apple store and seen the grinning employees you know this is possible, and Scientology after all is a great business model with big profit margins.

The Serious Team Building Point:

  • Shared values and a commitment to common goals are key to any teams effective functioning.


Team Building Orgies


Sex brings people closer together, that’s why people have all sorts of non-reproductive sex all over the world. Sex is popular not just because we need it to breed but because it bonds us. Why then do companies not have regular orgies and resolve their difference like Bonobo chimps (Google at your peril)?

In the UK the Naked Office TV series doesn’t go quite this far but does do what it says on the can and gets office staff naked to build their trust in each other. Even in the conservative UK most people go for it on each program, so even if we’re not going to have sex in the office let’s have naked Fridays at the very least.

The Serious Team Building Point:

  • Friendship, appropriate touch and venerability are all essential parts of good teams and often team building. “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine” is how people get close..though normally metaphorically.


Team Building Wars

The reason some veterans look back with a certain fondness to their war days is the intense bonding that occurs between people in peril with a common goal to achieve. “It’s about the man next to you” goes the philosophy. Why then do we not send organisations for a stint in Afghanistan – certain bankers and BP executives for starters perhaps? There’s precedent as companies once did serve together – in World War 1 for example whole organisations signed up together (Brighton station has several hundred names of deceased railway employees on a plaque). These days most armed forces discourage such practices and reservists from businesses are usually split up when deployed.

Wars are of course terrible and I want to show respect for those who do serve in the military (I worked in conflict zones myself) so perhaps “Survive a Serial Killer” away days would be an alternative? Nothing like running from Freddie or Jason through the woods to bring a group closer together.


The Serious Team Building Point:

  • Much traditional outdoor team building relies on adrenaline and perceived risk (e.g. high ropes courses). While I question how much transfer there is to office life there is still something to be said for utilising these activities.



Cannibalism Team Development


Another challenge would be to arrange a survivable plane crash in the Andes. You seen the film, you know how it goes, the plane crashes in remote snow-capped mountains, emotions flare, food runs out and sooner or later the bodies of crash victims are eaten. Cannibalism certainly brings people together and the survivor guilt and trauma will bond people long into the future, making this a great team building.

The Serious Team Building Point:

  • Like war overcoming challenge together is key, tough times and recession can even be positive things for teams.


Hallucinogenic Drugs as Team Building


Executives really should take magic mushrooms in the woods or munch on some Peruvian cacti and run around the desert together. After giggling like four-year-olds for hours on end in a pile of hugs on the floor, being abducted by UFOs and seeing each others inner chakra energy dance in the moonlight, I GUARANTEE you they will be bonded as a team!

The Serious Team Building Point:

  • Managing internal states is a part of team building and social rituals that involve food and drink can be useful. Going to the pub together and drinking a drug is the main “team building” activity of many UK businesses after all!


Telling the Truth to Develop Teams!


Perhaps the ultimate in extreme team building would be for everyone in a company to cut the politics and corporate BS and just tell the truth. This extreme and almost unheard of practice is of course highly dangerous and the alternatives outlined above should be tried first and it only used as a last resort.



Disclaimer and thanks: This article is not serious, please have a sense of humour and do not try any of this at home and then sue me.Thanks too, to my Twitter friends Pete Burden and David Winter for their ideas in relation to this article




Mark Walsh leads business training providers Integration Training – based in Brighton, London and Birmingham UK.  Specialising in working with emotions, the body and spirituality at work they help organisations get more done without going insane (time and stress management), coordinate action more effectively (team building and communication training) and help leaders build impact, influence and presence. In his spare time he meditates, practices aikido and enjoys being exploited by two cats. He doesn’t do drugs or eat people.


photo by wstryder