a group in a creative team building exercise

Are you burned out on run-of-the-mill team events? Let’s assume you searched out this article because you’re hoping to find some creative team building activities. I get it! It’s hard to find great team programs. 

Perhaps you’ve been traumatized by a mildly injurious trust fall. Maybe you revealed an awkward secret during two truths and a lie on that last company retreat. Could be you were just bored out of your mind watching an awkward comedic magician at the company conference. Whatever your motivations for seeking outside of the box, creative team building activities; the good news is they do exist. 

Creative work and inspiration is foundational to innovation. Just about every organization I’ve worked with expresses a desire to be more innovative because they know there’s value in being innovative and forward thinking. The challenge is to move from placing value on something to acting on it. Creative team programs will help you act. You’ll learn how to reframe the narrow concept of ROI as something broader – something I like to call ROInspiration®.

Why Creativity is Important 

For the sake of exploring the importance of creativity, follow my lead for a moment here. Let’s imagine that I’m pulling up to your desk in a fully functioning time machine. I open the door and you hop in for a quick ride. Don’t worry, I’ll return you to your office soon, that is if you want to go back, haha.

We’re zooming and grooving all the way back to when you were four years old. You’re now coloring a picture of a house that looks like a giant blob, but you feel like Picasso. The paint is splashing all around and there might even be glitter involved. You’re one inspired little four year old.

Now jump back in the time machine with me and return to adulthood. You’re sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with all your paints and crafty supplies. How likely do you think you’d be to let loose and draw something with abandon?

If that blank piece of paper is making the adult you feel stumped, don’t feel bad. Research shows that while 96% of four year olds identify as creative, only 10% of adults will respond positively to the same question. You are not alone in feeling freaked out by a creative challenge.

You might be thinking, “Well why is this a problem? I’m a lawyer/doctor/engineer/scientist/high powered executive and I don’t have to be able to be creative.” But anytime you’re solving a problem in your business life you have to use your creative powers. 

To solve a problem you need to change something. To change something you need to do something differently. And for that you need new ideas. To find new ideas, you need to be a bit creative. 

A good creative team building activity can help you and your team reconnect with your existing creativity and harness that power.

Why the Adult Brain Craves Creativity

In this case, the egg absolutely comes before the chicken. No question.  When you problem solve as an adult, your brain engages the same neural pathways that you formed when you were a little kid.

We like to imagine that our adult brains are somehow superior or different, but that’s just fiction. The fact is you are using that same neural circuitry that you formed as a messy, paint splashing four year old when you now come up with a game changing idea or a solution to a problem at work.

The good news is, you don’t ever lose that precious neural circuitry. However, your creativity wiring does need to be used to stay present. It’s use dependent. Use dependent means if you don’t use your creativity intentionally, repetitively, and frequently, you will be slow at the problem solving starting line.

In addition to keeping your brain healthy and primed for problem solving, there is another massive benefit to incorporating creative team building into your agenda. That benefit is connection. 

Creating as a group stimulates the parts of the brain that are deeply involved in forming authentic human connection and engagement. An engaged team is a team that succeeds at a higher level. A connected team is a team that operates in a culture of trust. A culture of trust fosters bravery, thoughtful contributions, and innovation. 

It seems creativity is the key to all forms of success!

3 Creative Team Building Activities We Like

Now that we’ve engaged in time travel, neuroscience, and general creativity related shenanigans, let’s talk shop. Here are some creative team building activities to help your team reach their potential.

1 – Improv Programs

Incorporating improv into a team program offers a plethora of benefits. Improv sessions can inject energy and spontaneity into an event, helping everyone feel uplifted and connected. This type of program encourages participants to think on their feet, improve their communication skills and embrace a fearless mindset. 

Improvisation will help you be more adaptive, collaborative and open minded. And of course, you’ll be making stuff up. Hm…sounds an awful lot like a creative team building idea to pursue. 

Remember the point is not to be good at acting or improv – it’s to get everyone creating as a team. Leave your hesitation at the door and try to channel your inner child. 

Here’s a guide on how to harness the power of improv training

2 – Songwriting Team Building

I’ll admit I’m a bit biased here. But after many years leading teams through this creative process, I can honestly say that Team Building Through Song® is a fantastic creative team building exercise. 

You’ll learn that you don’t have to be inspired to be creative. You only have to show up, suspend disbelief and get to work. We start with a problem to solve and that’s a blank piece of paper. You’ll learn that something that may seem creatively out of reach like songwriting is actually a step-by-step process in which you’ll gather data, discuss options and ultimately make choices with your data that lead to a finished song. In this case the raw data are the ideas you come up. We’ll help you take your ideas and craft lyrics that become your finished song. 

You can write one song in a large group setting. Or you can break into teams to create multiple songs and then compete on stage for awards. There’s nothing better than starting with a blank canvas, coming up with ideas and then seeing it all coalesce as you create, perform and record your own songs. 

Everyone has opportunity to participate in different ways, contributing lyric ideas, singing or playing percussion instruments. But you won’t be put on the spot. In other words; no need to take a solo!

3 – Group Story Telling

All you need for a story telling session is a bit of time, a theme, and someone who’s brave enough to go first.

Sit around a table or pull chairs into a circle so that no one feels pushed to the front or singled out. Make sure everyone is clear about the theme you’ve decide on for the stories. Give each person gets five minutes to tell a story related to this theme. 

You’ll learn something new about your colleagues, whether it’s a revealed truth or maybe their ability to spin a yarn, if a story is fictional. Either way, you’ll gain insight into each other and laugh along the way.

Having to tell a story makes you use your creative powers. You may be surprised just how easy it is for you to make stuff up as you go! This type of program is a foundational creative team building activity. 

Tip and a ground rule: There are no bad ideas and no one should judge anyone’s story. Don’t allow critique. This is not what this exercise is about!

Engaging with creativity will make you better at everything you do at work. Bringing creative exercises to your team encourages open sharing, innovation and problem solving. Plus, it’s fun. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

No matter what activity you choose for your next team building session, I hope you that you’ll be inspired to incorporate creativity into the agenda. Your team will thank you and so will your brain.

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.