Actuate – a team simulation that works

June 11th, 2013  |  Published in Teams

is this, by any chance, stock photography?
Darren Williams, Eurostar’s Head of Sales & Marketing reviews Actuate – our latest team development simulation:

“It all sounded so simple. My high-performing and well organised team were given a task to complete in a given time-frame. This called for a clear objectives, clearly defined roles, good teamwork & leadership. How could we possibly fail? Quite easily as it happens.

Castleton Consulting’s Actuate is an experiential way of getting to the nitty gritty of why groups succeed or fail. As a development activity it tests out teamworking, problem solving & leadership. The pack comprises everything needed to run a non-physically demanding indoor/outdoor exercise on as small or large scale as you like – anything from the limited confines of a hotel to a 3 mile radius around it. It has also been designed to allow users to produce unlimited documents each time the exercise is run

In my team the natural tendency to dive in, get things done and win was strong. On occasions the loudest voices took over, which had a negative impact on results. Superficially it led to lost time & unfinished tasks. More crucially it led to disengagement and an erosion of team spirit. Recognising disengagement and addressing it was a key learning point for me. Skirting around issues doesn’t help teams realise their full potential – and whilst painful, some straight talking reaps longer term benefits. My experience of Actuate is that the role of the leader cannot be underestimated. The ability to do the right thing rather than do things right needs to be constantly front of mind.

The exercise is artfully constructed so that both individuals and groups develop in a way that they will not forget. And whilst there is a high level of fun, bonding and competition, the real work happens once the exercise is over. My team’s post exercise debriefing helped clarify how team dynamics could be improved and how best to meld the team – experiencing this in real time really does embed this greater than theory can alone.

I have now used Actuate on three occasions. All three were hugely successful in highlighting:

  • The importance of each individual’s contribution
  • How success and failure are closely linked to how the group operates.
  • The key role that leadership plays in successful teams

One other thing I learnt is that operating under pressure during Actuate may be different from planning next year’s sales objectives, but it isn’t light years away from a cold St Pancras station on a snow-disrupted December morning!”

Thanks to Darren for this review – and for the picture of the team hard at it at St Pancras on a December morning.

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