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StorageTek expands its employees' horizons
StorageTek expands its employees' horizons
An unusual teambuilding exercise helped employees at StorageTek, an international provider of data storage and network solutions, to see how their individual efforts fit into the company's "big picture".
Around 650 delegates from 14 countries, plus senior managers from company's headquarters in Colorado, USA, attended the "Kick Off" European strategy launch and motivational event at EuroDisney, Paris.
One of three teambuilding activities during the event, "The Big Picture", involved delegates being split into teams of eight. Each team had to paint part of a picture, and each section eventually became an element of a larger image.
At the start of the activity, no team knew what the finished picture looked like, so part of the three-hour task was to research one another's canvases. Teams were required to interact to match the correct colours – which they had to mix themselves – and to ensure that their part of the picture aligned with the ones around it.
Once the teams had completed their canvases, the finished 10m65m picture was built backstage and then revealed as the set backdrop featuring the words of the conference's theme – "The Customer at the Centre of our World".
Live events and motivational agency Acclaim, which was responsible for running the event, contracted Catalyst Event Management to co-ordinate the teambuilding activities. Commenting on "The Big Picture" activity, Acclaim director Simon Hambley said: "The aim was to emphasize to delegates the need to understand that, while they may work on individual assignments, their work impacts on the company's success as a whole. They need literally to see 'the big picture' in everything they do."
Jo-Anne Miller, StorageTek learning and development manager, explained the aims and philosophy behind the conference format. "The whole 'Kick Off' event is designed to equip the entire team with the latest thinking in company strategy and provide specific information on all the new products and services the company is providing. It is about education and motivation, looking at last year's achievements, and setting the scene for the future."
She continued: "We want to enable employees to deliver sustainable shareholder value. We need to have speed, both with decision-making and being able to prioritise, and we need to share information and learn from each other. There must be a shared mindset, including a shared vision, collaboration, sharing of best practice, accountability and responsibility and an ability to meet commitments.
"We have a lot of fun, but are overt about our strategies and make clear what we have to do when we finish the conference and go back to work. People enjoyed 'The Big Picture' because it was different and off the wall."
External speakers were also brought in to provide, for example, a customer's perspective and an analyst's perspective of the industry.
Jo-Anne Miller said: "Live events are often the only time that people get to meet senior management, so while the evenings were kept mainly for fun, and everyone made the most of this, we made a deliberate point of encouraging people to approach the senior executives on a one-to-one basis during this time so that the individual employees could raise any particular issues or concerns.
"In addition, during the day people were encouraged to raise issues through the 'Thought Wall' – a large notice board made of glass. With sticky-back notes made available throughout the venue, delegates could attach notes – on which they had written their questions or views – to either side of the wall. This could be done anonymously, if preferred, and the notes were periodically collected throughout the day, and shared out between senior management who then responded at the time they thought appropriate – for example in question and answer sessions or during their presentations."
Simon Hambley commented: "StorageTek is one of an increasing number of large organizations which think about how events fit into internal-communication programmes, and understand that they can have an instant, overall effect on the entire organization.
"StorageTek did a good job measuring the 'Kick Off' event afterwards. The company researched many different parameters, including whether the key messages had been communicated effectively, the effect of individual speeches on morale, and so forth."
Other teambuilding events created for the conference included "Virtual Grand Prix", in which three Grand Prix star look-alikes guided a team each through a virtual race on the big screen.
In an activity called "Tubular Tunes", different groups of the audience were given a plastic tube each. Every tube was cut to a specific length, so when it was hit against something – such as the back of a chair – it made a note. Following a quick briefing from the event director on stage, and a little practice, the delegates were able to play the theme tunes to James Bond and Mission Impossible on the plastic tubes.