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Business Values are important

Every business has a set of values on how they make decisions. These can be implicit or explicit. Employees will experience these values in action by the how the business operates. The company shows there values in the products and services they provide.

Values are not simple words on a mission statement. Values are HOW the business acts. Teams are part of the business, so how they act with each other and to the outside world are all part of that. It’s a feedback loop. The leadership sets values by example. Then others make decisions based on those values. They take actions. Those actions inform future decisions, and company culture is built.

Culture is important to the growth of a company. Future employees will look at the culture that exists on joining. But dry documentation is not a good way of showing values. So what is a good method of having that conversation with the team? How can you start to create alignment? How can leadership show by example and reinforce the company values?

A solution: A Scavenger Hunt.

A hunt custom built specifically for the company. A hunt that encourages groups to express their interpretation of the values in a playful way. This type of activity take a little planning, but can be effective on two fronts:

  1. posing the right challenges, you can review how teams see the company culture right now
  2. small-group games create new lines of communication between colleagues to have these discussions

A scavenger hunt for values comprises of the following elements:

  • Small teams (3-5)
  • A set of challenges to complete
  • A non-linear approach to those challenges
  • The challenges revolve around collecting items or taking pictures.

Location

You can run a scavenger hunt in almost any location. The office park, the downtown of a city, at a corporate retreat in the woods or on a university campus. The area should be wide enough for teams to be able to move around away from each other. It should have enough variety for creative approaches to the challenges.

It is necessary to consider the physical abilities of the players of the hunt. With the challenges and time length you set, do not to force teams to have to run around. Your aim is for teams to be thinking about the hunt, not creating a foot race. Yet still encourage teams to interact with their surroundings.

Have an end time and location for the teams, and ensure they know there’s a hard time limit. There should be a time built in for teams to share their answers, talk and to get prizes, as well as decompress. Having to wait for one last team who takes over the time limit to return is painful for everyone. The best incentive for prompt time keeping is to take points of late teams.

Small teams

Creating the teams is important. You want every to contribute and interact within their team. The smaller the group, the more likely quieter players will be able to take an active role. It also helps to have people work across departments or roles. This creates new interactions. Team members can see how other people interpret the company values. Don’t let the teams form themselves, direct them. Also, for more interesting results, don’t announce teams in advance. Have the teams form up as the first step of the scavenger hunt. This removes any pre-planning, and also puts the teams ‘in the moment’. This will have added side effect of building new trust networks in across your teams

The Challenges

The Challenge list consist of two categories. Number one, items. These are physical objects to collect from around the area the teams are going to be in. For example “A rock that weighs 25 grams from the beach” or “The spirit of community at Company X”. Items hunted for should be common. Taking the item should cause no harm to the environment or other businesses. Providing the teams a very small amount of money can get them to be a little more creative.

The second type of challenge are photographs. Give the teams a set of photograph titles and get them to go out and take photos to match the captions. These can be simple, such as”Someone in Uniform”. Or they can be more opaque such as “A Determination to Complete”.

Create between 12 and 15 challenges for the teams, and give them between ninety minutes and two hours to complete. They should feel some pressure but also have time to have fun, explore and express themselves.

Completing Challenges

Ask teams to email them into a central location for displayed to everyone on their return. Sharing via social media is also possible, with pictures made public to everyone. Also ensure that the teams title the image before they send it you. It will be very confusing to receive emails with no context. Or have a set of social media pictures with a single number.
The challenges need to be an interesting mix. They should not only focus on the company current list of values and objectives, as this can make the exercise seem dry and uninteresting. Have some that are directly related to the company, some to the environment, and some that are just fun… where you want to see what your teams can come up with.

Sharing Answers, Sharing Values

Display the images sent in on a wall board or other public forum for teams to see immediately on their return. Encourage or mandate teams to send pictures in when taken. It makes the organizers life much easier. You can create a simple PowerPoint presentation put into kiosk mode. Using tools like walls.io to display the results will automate away the curation.

Get the teams to each present the physical objects they have collected. Especially, those where their is some creativity in their selection. Give each time a time to present, but limit to avoid anyone taking up too much of the space. You want everyone to have a chance to share their ideas.

Scoring and Winning

The organizer should mark each team for meeting each challenge. In general, award one point for meeting a challnge. Being lenient if there’s some debate. For example: does a MacDonald’s employee count for someone in uniform? Yes.). Award bonus points for inventive or clever answers. Listen to the audience responses during the presentation as a way of deciding when a bonus is a good idea.
Add the points up, and announce a winner. In the case of a tie, select one of the values-orientated pictures from each of the tying teams. Then get the rest of the teams to vote on the best.

Reflection

This is the secret sauce to turn a fun activity into something with long-term value for the business. Soon after the event, review the images taken with the team who are in charge of company culture. Look at the images, and see whether they line up with the company values and culture that you are trying to build. Consider what aspects are they showing, and how can that aspect be encouraged and worked on? Talk to the teams that created the pictures and find out why they chose the images they did. These can lead to new ways of helping to promote the culture, and examples to lead by the leadership, and other team members. Memorable pictures can become the imagery people use when thinking about their own actions.

Images that maybe at odds with the culture should also be discussed. This needs to be non-judgemental, but consider why there is a difference between the expressions, and what is being shown? Is it a different facet to the same ideas? If it’s wildly different, was it the take they had on the day, or is there something not aligning well between the written words and the real-world actions?

Consider building a follow on exercise to make this a team-wide reflection. This especially works as part of multi-day retreat, or a team session a week or so afterwards. Here the core is to understand the thought process behind the photographs taken. It is especially important to not make this exercise judgmental.

Conclusions

Building a scavenger hunt for teams to express themselves is not just a fun activity. It can also help the teams understand their own values better. Leadership can also use the exercise to reflect on the company culture, and take action.

The overused saying ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ is relevant here. Company direction and organizational habits comes from the expression of its values.

If you’d like to talk more about scavenger hunts; team building and company values, contact Chris at chris@enigmaticevents.com. We build custom interactive events for teams of all sizes. Especially Scavenger Hunts

Thanks toian dooley for the images used in this post.

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