Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Nike Hosts Build-A-Bike Team Building Event In Portland, Oregon

Over Thirty Nike employees participated in a Build-A-Bike ® team building event in Portland, Oregon.  The Lean Business Enablement group under the Nike Technology umbrella got together during their strategizing meeting to have some fun and build some bikes.  As they embark on their new fiscal year it was time to get together and strategize and plan for the upcoming year.  The group is made up of the four Centers of Excellence (Lean, Project Management, Transition Management and Portfolio Deliver) which service Nike, Inc.  The goal for the event was to learn a little about team building and group collaboration.  They wanted the team to have a new understanding of the inter-dependency of the teams and how they can make that relationship stronger.


The group was game to jump right in and find out what this “team building” event was all about.  Typically the participants all think that there is something to win and come in with their competitive hats on.  I tell them it is not a competition to which they all usually boo in unison.  There are aspects about the program that can be considered competitive but there really truly is nothing to win.  This just shows how inherently competitive people are.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of a task you put in front of people, everyone wants to win and does whatever it takes to do so.  We get to see how this sense of competition undermines the communication.  Coming from the project management and efficiency side of the spectrum, the Nike employees were quick to realize that they must work together to get their parts and build their bikes.


The Lean Group certainly got it together and built 6 beautiful bikes that were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukie.  The children were bouncing in their seats as they waited to enter the room.  The Nike employees did not know the children were coming in to receive their bikes and were thrilled and surprised as they came scrambling in.  Nike employees all enjoy physical activity and know the importance of it for people’s health and happiness.  By participating in the Build a Bike they were able to guarantee that 6 lucky boys and girls would also understand the joy of exercise on their very own bikes!

Why Team Building Activities to Start the New Year?


Are you looking for ways to improve your team culture for the new year? Team building activities help build a purposeful team culture within your organization, so why not include a workshop in your annual kick-off meeting?  One of the reasons companies have offsite team meetings is to not only share and gather information but also to improve their team culture by giving people “face time”.  If you’re planning an offsite meeting, here are some things to keep in mind.

In today’s economy everybody has to learn to do more with less.  What happens when we have limited resources?  How do limited resources impact our relationships and integrity?  Teams can learn to think creatively through team building activities. Oftentimes in team building workshops, participants are given a series of creative challenges and problem solving activities. What they realize is just because they’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the way they should continue to do it. To not only survive, but thrive we need to do things differently to get better results.  Rather than looking for what’s not working – ask what’s possible.  This releases creativity and attracts those who care and are committed to making it happen.

When you have an annual meeting it’s a great opportunity for your team to get to know each other through interactive team building activities.  You can build camaraderie with interactive sessions because when we are connected to each other, we participate.  When we have trust, we take risks.  When we care, we are willing to go the extra mile.  Collaboration and creativity start when we begin to know each other as human beings, not just roles or titles.  For example, we provided our Build-A-Bike® team building workshop for a client in the Seattle area last month. Because of the interactive team building activities, the participants said they knew each other better after a half day session than after a year sitting next to each other in cubicles.  And when times are uncertain, it’s the relationship that matters.

Team building activities that include a philanthropic twist have become increasingly popular in recent years.  And with good reason!  Service to others is a strong part of the culture within many companies who want to feel good by giving back – and not just during the holidays.   Our charitable bike building workshop is by far our most popular because teams build bikes that are then donated to children in the community.  Do you remember what it felt like when you got your first car – how it expanded your world?  A new bike can change the life of a child, and it’s a goose bump moment when you watch them ride it for the first time.  Decide if a service mentality is an important part of your culture, and send that message at your next offsite meeting.

So if you want to improve your team culture, start at your next offsite meeting by learning to think creatively and be resourceful, building camaraderie with interactive sessions, and feeling good by giving back in some way. Your team will discover together what it cares about and set your company up for a successful new year.

Colette Johnston is a Corporate Development Manager who works with clients in over 30 major cities including Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New York. Interested in a Team Building Event?

Collaboration in the Workplace

Have you ever noticed how your perceptions and those of others often don’t match?

It is said that we all hold “a piece of the pie.” This is why collaboration is necessary and usually advantageous at work: to gain access to unfamiliar territory and the new resources that live in other people. Indeed, to get things done, learn, and improve, your colleagues, yes, even your boss, it could come in handy from time to time.

Collaboration is more than just working together cooperatively (“teamwork”), more than going along (accommodating) or getting along … it is that remarkable and unpredictable chaos, complexity and creative stuff that makes life interesting. Admittedly, sometimes too interesting..

Look Within, or Look Out!

Reflect for a moment on your own workplace. When was the last time you had a conversation that didn’t go well? Do you normally come back to those less-than-delightful moments to gain a sense of resolution?  How, usually? Do you resolve it inside your own head or do you get in their face? Where there’s been some interpersonal friction, people naturally tend toward one extreme or the other to cover up the fact that we feel either threatened or embarrassed.

Even if you attempt resolution inside your own head (“Oh, he’s just a jerk!”), or through a third party (“Can you believe what a jerk he is?!”), or with the person directly (“I’m sorry, but I don’t feel complete about X; perhaps there’s been a misunderstanding .”), you aren’t necessarily collaborating.

When does it make sense to collaborate?  There are at least four situations where a collaborative approach is essential:


  • When you need to increase cooperation – collaboration helps deal with differences before they lead to resistance or begin to prevent understanding.


  • When you want stewardship (not micro-delegation or micro-management) – whether kicking off an important project or change initiative, stewards “go slow to go fast” with the right input from all the right players up front.


  • When you need a more complete perspective – collaboration allows for useful feedback, so rather than hallucinating (filling in blind spots from your own perceptions), you can push back on limited assumptions and gain new awareness.


  • When there has been a breakdown or problem with another person– collaboration provides the most tactful way of building accountability, trust and safety, while bringing about lasting change.



With collaborative approaches – in contrast with one-way, autocratic or dictatorial – leaders at all levels use an inclusive style that balances assertiveness (focus on goal or task achievement) with gaining cooperation and commitment (flexibility and consideration in relating to others).

There are several sharp advantages to this approach and (the best part) there are no significant downsides, except perhaps an upfront investment of time that is perpetually scarce.  This is one of the few areas of business where there are no real tradeoffs or conflicts of interest:  if you include people and treat them with respect, you won’t pay a price (it doesn’t cost you or the company any more); in fact, inclusion and participation makes for a better, more enjoyable and productive workplace.

Sure, you can still force “cooperation,” especially if you have positional power, but why needlessly risk backlash, resentment or substandard results.  Since no one person can have all the answers, the chain-of-command approach often “orders” mediocre quality.

Understanding other people and using your “soft skills” doesn’t make you a “soft” leader.  Quite to the contrary, in fact; with practice, collaborative approaches can be more powerful, enabling you to lead more strongly and quickly toward the desired results.  The more rapport you have, for example, the more room there is for intensity and passion in leading toward your goals, even and especially if there’s disagreement about methods or priorities.  This is simply because there’s more of a genuine win-win when the other person feels included, consulted, respected.

Interpersonally, you can be more directive once you demonstrate that their views have been acknowledged.  It’s the core psychology of negotiation: we listen better once we’ve been heard.

Evergreen Elementary School Has Fun At Build-A-Bike In San Jose California

The staff at Evergreen Elementary School in San Jose California just south of San Francisco, recently hosted a Build-A-Bike ® team building event in San Jose California to promote collaboration among co-workers. One of California’s 2012 Distinguished Schools, Evergreen Elementary is committed to creating a positive environment for both students and staff. They wanted noticed that while most of their professional learning community teams had great teamwork it didn’t necessarily translate between teams. The Build-A-Bike ® event helps to show that while a company might be broken into teams or departments, it is important to keep in mind the overall goal and work together as one company rather than a group of teams. For Evergreen Elementary, the overall goal of student achievement requires collaboration between all staff members.

“What we did here today fit in really nicely with what we are working on. This was a wonderful event.”Steve Sweeney, Principal Evergreen Elementary

Thirty employees of Evergreen Elementary participated in the Build-A-Bike event. Most of the teachers there have been working together for many years and most have been teaching for over ten years. The group had a lot of fun together working through the challenges of the event. They also enjoyed learning from the experience about the importance of collaboration with all members of a team. The event’s tasks encourage the participants to creatively solve puzzles and use every participants unique skills to their fullest. To maximize student achievement it is sometimes required to reach beyond their normal teams.

Beyond learning a new appreciation for collaboration and having a load of fun while doing it, Evergreen Elementary was also able to give back to their community. The teams successfully constructed six new bicycles which were donated to the East Valley Family YMCA. When the kids came into to receive their new bikes it was an emotional time for the educators. There were more than a few tears being shed. It was very heartwarming to see the staff’s commitment to education and overall well being of all children, not just their own students. While one event might not make an instant and massive change, the Build-A-Bike Team Building Event was definitely a big step in the right direction. Thank you to the staff at Evergreen Elementary School for hosting a fun and memorable Build-A-Bike event.

Contact Us

(800) 872-7830

Contact Information

Corporate Office:
The Leader's Institute ®
5430 LBJ Freeway, Suite 1200
Dallas, TX 75240
Phone: (214) 989-4131

Site Map | Privacy Policy | © 2016 The Leaders Institute - All Rights Reserved