StrongMind Has Fun Honing Soft Skills

By August 1, 2017General


Team Bodacious poses with its state-of-the-art contraption.

There’s no doubt about it: It’s critical for StrongMinders to constantly expand their skills and knowledge in technology, education and so on. But in order to continue blazing the trail in education technology and fulfill our vision of becoming the most respected digital learning organization, is that enough? Of course not.

We must go further

We have to grow and excel in those critical soft skills like communication, collaboration, creative thinking and conflict management. According to the National Soft Skills Association, here are the top 10 soft skills for success.

What better way to hone these skills than a good old-fashioned competition?

Last week StrongMind separated into two teams to see which one could build the better contraption: an apparatus that could safely deliver a small rubber ball the fastest from one precise location to another.

Part of Team Awesome’s cutting edge contraption (the duct tape part ;).

Each team was divided into three subgroups responsible for creating a section of their team’s contraption. And each subgroup was equipped with a certain amount of supplies for the task. There was one catch, however: the only people who could communicate between subgroups were designated leads.

Let the games begin!

Team A – creative, we know… let’s call them Team Awesome – jumped into action right away with its middle group erecting a teepee structure as a foundation for their pipeline. All three Team Awesome subgroups kept busy brainstorming, constructing and iterating. Within an hour they were testing and fine-tuning their straightforward, cutting edge contraption with great success.

Team Awesome is busy at work fine tuning and iterating.

Team B – hmmm, we can do better than that… Team Bodacious – spent its time in the beginning strategizing, hypothesizing and planning. Once its subgroups began construction, cool 90-degree angles began to take shape (which earned them extra points) and their complex invention came to life. With only minutes left until the deadline, Team Bodacious tested its sophisticated, state-of-the-art contraption and…. Success!

Team Bodacious is a collaboration machine!!

Check out this post for an epic list of great team building games.

And the winner is…

When it came time for the judges to see the contraptions in action, more than 100 StrongMinders were in a groove of interacting, creating and trouble shooting with fellow employees they hadn’t necessarily known or worked with before.

StrongMinders are putting those soft skills to work.

After dozens of successful test runs, Team Awesome popped the ball into their contraption as the timer was set: 1,2,3…. The ball sped down and made a soft right turn… 4,5… it was just feet away from the end of the shoot and… it FELL OFF the track. Team Awesome got the big DQ.

After only a few test runs, Team Bodacious dropped the ball into their contraption as the timer started: 1, 2… the ball immediately made a couple hard turns… 3,4,5 it continued to twist and turn through the pipeline… 6,7,8,9, the ball made its way into the final straightaway and… VICTORY!! The ball reached its final destination.

More than fun

Team building often gets a bad rap for being a silly waste of time or ineffective. However, in addition to offering a fun way to blow off steam, it helps build skills that give an organization the edge in today’s fast paced, highly competitive marketplace. And it has been shown to deliver tangible benefits on individual, team and organizational levels:

  • Increased productivity
  • Positive work environment
  • Improved efficiencies
  • Elevated creativity and innovation

Highly Rated Reads on Soft Skills

For more information on how you and your team can build soft skills, check out these two popular books:

Bridging the Soft Skills Gap: How to Teach the Missing Basics to Today’s Young Talent (Bruce Tulgan; Wiley; 2015)

The Hard Truth About Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner (Peggy Klaus; Harper Collins; 2008)

Is being photogenic a soft skill? If so, these StrongMinders have that one down!

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