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In the media

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Alaska Airlines
January 1999

If "fun" is a team-building buzzword, then socialization becomes one of the most crucial elements of a successful event. "Social interacctivity has diminished dramatically," says John Wilkinson, president of Total Rebound, an interactive game and team-building company based in Benicia, California. You used to walk down the hall to tell Bill or Ted or whoever whatever message you had. Now, you send e-mail. You can get consensus electronically." The goal of many of Total Rebound's devices is to break open established patterns and roles."

Our customers want us to get people involved," Wilkinson says. "By creating a kinetic environment-by getting people moving, by having colorful and inventive games-we hope to draw people in." A number of Total Rebound's activities-such as Velcro Olympics, in which participants must navigate through an inflatable obstacle course in Velcro suits without getting stuck, or Surgery, an oversized version of the kids' game Operation-appeal to what Wilkinson calls "the child's heart."

"People tend to have more fun when it takes them back to their childhood," he explains. "A lot of our games have a silly emotional feeling to them. People remember having fun with [a certain game] but we're showing it to them in a different environment. The concept is that there are many team-building products out there, and we can provide the same results as they can, but with much more fun."

Companies may ask Total Rebound to provide activities that develop communication skills among employees, help work through leadership issues or teach workplace efficiency. Though "we don't work miracles for problem companies," Wilkinson says, "we can break down barriers by putting everyone on a level playing field. That makes people open up and that's the best thing we can do." Incident on the High Seas, a new adventure game that Wilkinson describes as "brain and body fun," emphasizes teamwork and communication. Specifically designed to be played on a recommissioned aircraft carrier, now a historic museum moored in San Francisco Bay, Incident is a fast-paced series of exercises-team construction projects, chemical experimentation, rocket launching, orienteering, and scavenger hunting-that demands camaraderie, strategizing and creatively interpreting challenges. At the end of the day, TR debriefs team results and people learn what skills and tactics were most useful by talking and hearing about each other's successes and mistakes.

In mid-November, 23 managers from Pacific Bel Co. in San Francisco did Incident on the High Seas to help the group, a quarter of which were new members, get to know each other. "There has to be a building of trust among new team members," says Peter Lee, a Pacific Bell sales director who participated in the event, "and what better way to get to know each other than in a forum that's fun and at the same time builds trust and respect for divergent views? [Incident] is mentally challenging in that you receive a mission that you resolve by answering various questions. It was a wonderful indoctrination that allowed us to interact away from the distractions of the work environment. When we finished, some of the comments I got from co-workers were that it was a good investment and very energizing. We recognize that it was the first step in the journey of team-building."
" We make the challenges difficult, and the better the participants perform, the more information they get along the way," Wilkinson says. "You have to put pressure on them because then they engage and work together."



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