The inspiration for our team building day

So we're nearly 6 hours into our team-building day. Not a lot to show for it yet if you're watching from the outside beyond a load of twitters (oh, and tom's if you can persuade him to let you follow him). But beneath the surface, it's a hive of activity and things are coming along well.

I thought this would be a good time to tell you about where the inspiration for this day came from.

Carsonified - creativity with integrity

The answer is that I originally had the idea that became team-building 2.0 when I remembered a week-long creativity exercise the cool cats at Carsonified did where they built Hug My Mac in a week.

My original idea got taken and improved a load by the team here and original thoughts have morphed beyond recognition.

In the spirit of giving credit where it's due, I gave Mel at Carsonified a call to have a chat about what they did. Here is the result of our conversation:

##Mel from Carsonified on Team Building

Note that the conversation below is my hurried transcribing of a telephone conversation. It might not be word for word, but I hope I haven't misrepresented anyone! Any stilted phrasing is entirely my fault in the transcribing as Mel was really articulate and clear...

Hi Mel, could you give us a little bit of background about Carsonified for anyone who hasn't come across you guys before?

> So Carsonified started out from a couple of apps - building up to workshops aimed at specific skills training. Future of Web Apps (FOWA) grew out of that as the first conference in San Francisco with about 500 people in attendance.

> The next conference was FOWA London followed by the first Future of Web Design (FOWD) (also in London+)

+ You can read about the fun our guys had at FOWD this year

> From there, each event now happens twice a year - once in the UK and once in the states. Events now include FOWA, FOWD, Future of Mobile and one Future of Online Advertising. Coming up next month is Fuel which is aimed at more traditional companies to teach them how to use online tools and harness the power of the web better.

And what apps are you running with these days?

> The apps now include Amigo, Dropsend and Eventstream, which is internal only at the moment - it's an online event booking system which might be white-labeled in the future.

So, what about the team-building day you guys had?

> With workloads increasing, it was becoming easy for the whole team to stay with their eyes focussed on their screens - so we thought it would be a great idea to take some time out for team building.

> At the beginning of the week, we had no idea what we were doing - it could have been anything. We cleared the week out of our diaries. At the beginning of the week, we had a number of ideas from mini-apps to cards to all kinds of things.

> Since we all have shiny macs and iphones, we wanted something to show off that was related to that - which is how we came up with hug my mac. Everyone had a budget of £20 to buy materials and we all had to work individually and build our characters.

Did you promote it externally much?

> We used twitter and facebook and obviously wrote about it on the blog. At the end of the week, we told a few people about it and response was hard to believe given it was just to get the team together and building something fun.

There is a website as well isn't there?

> Yes - the website was pulled together in a day - the designer had to build his own hug as well as the website so that was a little crazy. The last hour in particular was crazy - even though everything went really well.

And what has happened to the hugs since?

> Each hug was sent out with a little message book. The idea was that it was to be kept for a month and then passed on along with the book. At the end of a year, we're hoping to get the books back with a record of who's had them.

Where have you seen them turn up?

> At SXSW someone came up to me and showed one of the iphone covers.

Sounds like it has been really cool. Thank you to Mel for giving up a bit of her morning to speak to a crazy guy calling her in a hurry! I'm hoping that we will get to meet the Carsonified team in person sometime soon - consider this an open invitation to give us a shout whenever you are in London guys!

The Carsonified week was a little different to our day, but it sounds like they had a lot of fun, and we are too... I'd recommend getting your boss to go along with something similar. If you can't do that, maybe you'd rather work at Distilled or Carsonified ;)

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more