Today while a group was being coached by media professionals, others played a team building game where a group of us seating around a table was given a set of shapes – two pieces were missing from the set and we had to identify the missing pieces in 30 minutes. Piece of cake you would say…yeah, right… the only caveat…we were blindfolded. It was a horrific experience. We had to wear the blindfold from the very beginning, even when we were given instructions – for me this was the first moment of frustration….. I realized I cannot follow instructions if I cannot see – some may argue I cannot follow instructions period, but that’s not the point here.
Three teams were playing. At the end of the period, and despite an extension of 10 minutes nobody could identify the missing pieces. Frustrated, we took a break to re-gather a few minutes later to debrief on what we could have done differently…on what we could have done as a team to get to success. Bear in mind, the groups were extremely diverse, we never worked together before, we came from different countries, different background, very few were English mother tongue…. This is an occasion where diversity did not help. We did not have a common understanding, we did not have common grounds, we had different ways to express ourselves, referring to a piece in our hands as “This” does not help when you cannot see. We did not identify a leader….we did not spend any time agreeing on what the task at hand was…we all started from our understandings and the assumptions others understood the same, we did not spend enough time checking on progress as time was passing, we just concentrated on the task at hand, we set to work immediately, trying to get the job done without planning, without agreeing on roles, on responsibilities..just charging ahead…. A big lesson, learned at the expense of a frustrating afternoon.
Working with blindfold made me think of working with colleagues virtually….when you cannot see a person everything seems so much more difficult!