When team building activities first emerged is unknown, however they became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Team building activities are a useful tool for managers to employ to address a broad range of workplace issues, from increasing communication to increasing productivity. Select a team building activity that fits the goals of your organization, capitalizes on strengths and seeks to strengthen areas of weakness. Use the Paper Tower team building activity to strengthen your team's goal setting abilities and cohesiveness.
Paper Tower Team Building
Break your team up into teams of two to four people. Provide each team one or two-pieces of paper, at least 11-by-17 inches in size. Also provide a large coin and a pair of scissors. Introduce the activity by encouraging the teams to creatively create a freestanding structure out of the objects provided. The teams are not to use other objects to complete this task and must complete the task together. Advise the teams that there is a set time frame, such as 5 minutes.
Following the activity, lead your team in reflecting on the task. Ask questions around who ran out of time and why, who felt they were innovative in completing the task and why, or if the whole team were to combine the best aspects of each tower, what would the best tower look like? Discuss the goals of this activity, focusing on the importance of goal-setting in the workplace. Foster conversation around how this task might relate to their day-to-day work.
An important part of team work in the workplace is cohesiveness, referring to a team's capacity to stick together when facing challenges. This is a useful skill when diverse personalities come together to meet a common goal and was particularly important in this team building activity. According to the "Journal of Applied Sport Psychology" the primary goal of team building is a shared vision and unity of purpose. Have a few team members try the activity alone with the same supplies and time limit. Discuss the differences they experience when unable to rely on their team to support the task.
You may adapt the Paper Tower team building activity by increasing the length of time each time has to complete the task, or by adding additional sheets of paper or additional props, such as straws and tape. This activity is not only a goal-setting exercise, but it is also a warm-up activity for team building events. Other team building activities you might consider to warm-up your team, include quizzes and questionnaires, or scavenger hunts.
- "Journal of Applied Sport Psychology"; Principles of Effective Team Building Interventions in Sport: a Direct Services Approach at Penn State University; David Yukelson; 1997
- International Association of Teamwork Facilitators; Teambuilding Game -- Paper Tower; 2007
- BusinessBalls.com: Free Team Building Activities Ideas