A Strategic Approach to Organizational Development

A Strategic Approach to Organizational Development

Teambuilding or Recreation in Business Meetings?

A Strategic Approach to Organizational Development

By Scott Chreist, Adventura Consulting


The lines between business meetings, recreational entertainment, and teambuilding have blurred greatly over the last 20 years. Offsite meetings tend to focus on the business component in the morning, followed by lunch, and entertainment in the afternoon or evening. While most believe work should come before play, this sequence is not the most effective strategy in ensuring peak team dynamics and performance. Here is why:

Teambuilding has become a collective term for various types of activities used to enhance social relations, organizational principles, and as a tool for organizational development. Teambuilding should be divided into two primary categories: Recreational Entertainment and Experience-based Training and Development. The key is to identify the objectives of bringing the team together. By doing this, the appropriate mechanisms of support emerge.

Recreational Entertainment is about playing together to create social bonds, learning about the character of ones’ peers, and fostering a sense of community through shared experiences that have minimal direct connectivity to business objectives.

Experience-based Training and Development is about providing team members with a facilitated experience where collaboration, creative thinking, reflection and dialog are paired with activities that simulate pressure on the team dynamic in order for members to gain insight into the maintenance of healthy team dynamics.

Most meeting agendas include “teambuilding” as a luxury reward. The truth is, professional teambuilding should be one of the highest priorities of any organization interested in fostering healthy internal dynamics.

Given this knowledge, what is the best strategy for offsite meetings?

Determine your objective(s)

  • If the goal is to present information and socialize, the traditional format is effective: coffee, presentation, lunch, recreate and wrap-up.
  • If the objective is asking members to provide input, strategize, or collaborate, begin your meetings with teambuilding. Doing so will result in higher engagement, deeper creative collaboration, and greater participant investment.
  • If developing team dynamics is the primary objective, integrate a training regimen specific to your team.

Once you’ve determined your objectives:

  • Engage a specialist to facilitate the participant experience throughout the entire offsite timeline.
  • Convey what you’d like the meeting or event to accomplish, and how it relates to developing effective team dynamics.
  • Ensure attendance. There are few greater negative impacts to team dynamics than having individuals fail to respect the investment everyone else is making by not being present and on-time. To help ensure attendance, promote the event in advance, including teasers about the benefits and key takeaways attendees may glean by attending.
  • Sequence the timeline. Staging the experience is an oft overlooked element of meeting plans. In many instances, the timeline of an offsite meeting is cobbled together. Proper sequencing of offsite meetings can foster peak engagement, deeper connectivity, meaningful collaboration, and healthier team dynamics.

If you’ve determined the best use of time and resources is to combine your business meeting with a team activity, frontload the meeting with team activity, and follow it with the business components. Make use of the energy it creates. Let it lubricate the connectivity between members. Participants will be energized, full of fresh ideas, and knowledge. Their minds will be focused on creative thinking and ripe for collaboration.

Tempting as it may be to follow the traditional corporate meeting format, thinking strategically about your goals and objectives will deliver a better outcome. Save your organization time and money by being proactive about your organizational development.


Scott Chreist is founder and director at Adventura Consulting, which specializes in EBTD programs for a wide range of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses.