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In the media

November 20, 2001 << Back

Excerpt from
Extreme Management

by Roy Rivenburg

Some workers would walk over hot coals for their jobs. Or fly from a trapeze. In the name of teamwork, companies are asking employees to perform all sorts of odd feats.

...At Latitude Communications in Santa Clara, employees have dangled from a circus trapeze, ridden mechanical bulls and rushed into a flaming trailer wearing firefighter suits. Other team-building schemes on the market include rattlesnake roundups, race-car driving, grape stomps and a "sea rescue" in which toy helicopters airlift bikini-clad Barbie dolls from a shark-infested pool. (Apparently, nothing improves morale like saving Barbie from Jaws.)

...Make your own merlot. In Napa, employees can stomp grapes and blend their own wines as a team-building exercise. Hostage negotiations. In this simulation, teams of employees negotiate with fictitious animal-rights activists who are holding hostages at a research laboratory. Other simulation games let employees investigate murders, run fictitious governments or search for Arizona's legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine (players wear cowboy hats and bandannas for added realism). The games are designed to teach decision-making, creativity, risk-taking and teamwork.

Barbie heroism. Using cranks and pulleyes, four people guide a toy helicopter as it rescues a bevy of Barbies from deadly plastic sharks. This adventure is by Total Rebound, a Benicia, Calif., company that also conducts a "Survivor"-style game on Angel Island and takes clients aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet to build and launch their own missiles.

The list of gimmicks is endless: cornfield mazes, rock music lyrics that teach "valuable learning lessons," sumo wrestling in inflatable body suits and listening to dead presidents."Did you know George Washington believed and practiced team-building and collaboration as a central part of his leadership style?"...

Does any of this stuff work?

Latitude Communications' DeLeon agrees. The daredevil lessons have "benefited us greatly," she says. As the economy stumbles, "a lot of companies are thinking about cutbacks, but this is one thing we wouldn't want to skimp on."...

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