Our Dogs Mavis and Aaliyah


Interactive team building activities are really the only type of team building you should consider. By design, any program for building or bringing your team together will be interactive. But of course, some are more successful than others.

Are there common elements of good interactive team building activities? I’m glad I asked that question for you, ha ha. And yes there are. I’m going to provide you with guidance to help you plan for a fun and successful program with your team.

Dogs And A Team Building Lesson

That’s not some random dog picture above. It’s a picture of  a successful interactive event. This event took place between these two dogs, Mavis and Aaliyah.

The dog on the left is Mavis, my puppy who thinks she’s queen of the world, and on the right is Aaliyah, my daughter’s dog, who likes to be the Alpha. They’d been fighting every time they got together. We finally found a way to help them bond and get rid of their bad dynamic. This story has all the elements that every good interactive team building program should include.

  • A Change Of Scene – Getting out of the office can be important and beneficial. Whenever my daughter’s dog came to visit we’d let her inside right away. With both dogs in the house, nothing worked well. Lots of aggression and negative energy. When we moved the dogs outside to neutral territory, they took time to gather themselves into a more positive state and they then began to play. This works for people too!
  • Elements Of Fun – On any given day we can all take ourselves too seriously. I know I sure can. On any given day we can get bogged down or bothered by the little things. When I’m like this, I’m tense and not a joy for my team to be around me. Interactive team building can and should provide a foundation of fun, the opposite of too serious. Having fun should be inherent in any program you consider. With our two dogs, we provided the most fun environment they could wish for. They had room to run, new smells to investigate, small animals to chase, a full stomach, plenty of drinks and a beautiful day. Think of the human version of this setting when you’re considering what to do for a team building day. I’m not sure about the new smells and small animals to chase, but everything else will work!
  • Interactive Experience – As I mentioned at the start of this post, team building inherently implies interactivity. But you need to find activities that will be successful for your group. In the case of Mavis and Aliyah’s successful interactive experience we set it up this way: Each participant (woof woof) had time on his own to get comfortable with the environment. Everyone then found roles they were comfortable with, roles with that contributed to the success of the planned activity. And within the boundaries of the planned activity, the team created their own road map to achieve an end. In the case of our two dogs, the team building allowed them to successfully accept and assume their optimal roles on the team. The team does best when the puppy follows the bigger dog around and does what the leader does. Okay…so maybe you don’t want to model the doggie interaction exactly!

What Kind Of Interaction Should You Have?

To be successful, you need the right kind of interaction. The right kind of interaction should be built into the foundation of your team building program. You want to be challenged but not fearful. You want to work together as a group but have individual roles. You need to feel accomplishment and satisfaction as an individual and as a team.

Here are some ideas that model successful interactive team building.

The Big Picture

I don’t know about you but I feel better when I can positively contribute to my team’s effort. An example of something that makes me feel valued is team building in which everyone works together on a mural. Everyone has an individual role; to paint a specific portion of the mural. As each person paints his or her assigned portion, the goal of the team as a whole becomes more apparent. That goal is of course the finished mural.

This interactive program is successful because you’ll feel personal accomplishment but you’ll also be actively engaged in watching everyone else’s contributions. You won’t be jealous of other people’s contributions because they’re complementing your role to achieve the finished work of art. It’s completely collaborative.

Get Out Of A Jam

There are escape activities in which teams work together to get out of a room. You won’t succeed unless you collaborate successfully. This is inherently interactive since you’re talking, plotting and taking action together. While you may compete with other teams, your own team members will have to assign roles and gel together to achieve your goal. You can find these programs in the category of escape room team building.

Build Your Future

Another program I like that feeds your personal need yet encourages great interaction is building with blocks. This may seem simplistic but with the right facilitator it’s awesome. You’ll build models of your past, present and ultimately where you’re headed. To do well at this you have to successfully interact and collaborate. Everyone involved discusses your team’s past, present and future goals. You’ll then work together as you build models of the past, present and future. This is a relaxed and accessible program, yet it has focus and energy. It proceeds leisurely yet it’s not at all boring.

Be Part Of The Band

When band members and songwriters collaborate it’s truly great interaction. There’s shared positive energy, real emotion and the joy of creating something together as a team. When this works well there’s nothing else like it. Think Lennon and McCartney or Rogers and Hammerstein; very powerful stuff. My own music team building programs balance individual contribution and individual challenge with lots of  group interaction.

Everyone participates in different ways, contributing lyric ideas or singing or playing percussion instruments. You’ll find a role that’s right for you but you’ll also need to function optimally as a group to succeed.  As you create, perform and record an original song you’ll enjoy everyone’s talents while benefitting from the power of the combined talent that makes up your team.

To sum it all up, my mantra for successful interactive team building activities is simply stated –  Highly collaborative yet individually satisfying. Keep this in mind and you’ll ensure a great program for your team.

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.