An Afternoon of High Flyers

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It was a burst of sunshine having been invited as a resource team given the topic of Team Effectiveness in the monthly seminar event of the Philippine Federation of Pest Management Operators’ Associations Inc. held last July 3, 2013 at the NIA Compound, EDSA. Our team was invited by Mr. Jessy Aquino, Charter President of the Federation and Training Coordinator and Board Director of PAPFI or the Philippine Association of Professional Fumigators, Inc. He is also the owner of SSPEX Sanitation Systems.

Our team was requested to deliver a 2-hour interactive session covering owners, managers and employees of Pest Control Companies in the country. We have not delivered team dynamics in a nut and bolt type, so at first, we felt challenged. It wasn’t long when we found and decided on the best design we feel most apt for the occasion.

Our activity was entitled High Flyers with the objective of building individual paper airplanes and setting them for launch collectively as a team to reach a marked area in the room but the catch is — the paper gliders should not touch the ground. Any fallen planes will mean a penalty for the group. The participants close to 50 heads were mostly shocked on how they will proceed with the activity. 2 groups were formed and were given time to plan the launch.Every minute which passed in the planning phase, frantic faces appeared and more clarifications were raised. The expected outcome is for the 2 groups to collaborate, one group will launch the gliders on one side of the room, while the other team catches them in the opposite end.

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IMG_6772What was the result? What we expected came true. Sadly, the 2 teams did not collaborate. Although there was an attempt made by a few leaders of one team to reach out to the other team’s leader but it was perceived as a “spying activity”. Unfortunately, the attempt did not solidify and another strategy of non collaboration was tested. Both teams used the “launch and catch the planes” meaning, after they have thrown their paper planes, they ran as fast as they could to catch them. In this technique, there were 2 successful cases of planes thrown and caught by the owners, one from each group.

Too often, people when formed in groups would feel they need to work exclusively within their teams and are inclined to decline from thinking outside of their autopilot modes to reach out to the another team to collaborate. Some people, by default would always fall into the trap of competing, staying true to the survival of the fittest concept, and totally throwing out the idea of synergy. What’s worse is when an invite to work together is extended, it will most likely be seen as a ploy to outwit their team.

Perhaps if the two teams worked as allies, the cost of the fallen planes would have diminished or could have been kept to a minimum. We hope the idea of collaboration and openness to shift paradigms were good A-HA moments for our participants.

How do we keep flying in our teams? How do we continue to shed our old habits or ways of thinking to allow for more cooperation and partnerships? Let me leave these questions to you as you reflect on your own personal experiences when working in your own teams.

Let’s keep flying everyone!

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