Discussion thread compiled by Lori Weir <>


----- Original Message -----

From: Lori Weir <>

To: <>

Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Subject: Teambuilding and Dinner

Discussion end date: February 20. 2002


I just spoke with a client who wants to do some teambuilding and wants to start as people are finishing up their dinner (and a few glasses of wine I expect). This is a most unusual request so I challenged as to whether or not they would prefer to simply have some "entertainment" as it seemed more fitting.  No, they want to have some interactive teambuilding. I've got some ideas on what to do, however out of curiousity was wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation and what the outcome was?


Lori Weir

Peak Adventures International Inc

PO Box 6625 Saint John, NB Canada  E2L 4T1

T 506-653-9189  F 506-658-0969


We have some good success with the team cooking the meal.  The 3 course menu is selected in discussion with the company that offers the service.  A top level chef in a professional kitchen guides the team.  As they enjoy eating the meal they disucss the dynamics of the team while they cooked.  A few glasses of wine helps the process. We lead the discussion and participate in the cooking.  It is a great ice breaker also.

Jon C. Jenkins


I have done this a number of occassions with alcohol as some as well. During dinner the activity can be framed to discover key skills, talents, and insights about the talent at the table. Each person has a question and they interview the person on the right and left.  This creates a great platform for meaningful connection. This is a great springboard into a discussion for the coffee/dessert portion to share the direction fo the rest of the event, share the vision/plan/agenda and ask how knowing these insights into the team will enhance/accelerate the learning expereince and application ability when they get back to their roles.  Ask them to share what they discovered, what was new, and how it impacts the future they are all looking at....  Bon Appetit,

Bobbie Goheen


I had a client who wanted a similar scenario. What happened was that one or two people were delayed; they decided to wait until they arrived to start dinner; dinner was a very leisurely meal; and they still wanted to do some work when they finally finished eating and drinking at 20:00!  The session did go ahead in a truncated form (lots of on-the-spot improvising by me) and did form the prelude to a very successful weekend.  If that is the only session you have then I'd be very wary. But in any case, be prepared to change things and don't do anything too intellectually demanding - keep it as physical as possible; plenty of movement, get them to draw or sculpt and so on. Best wishes,



I don't know enough about your situation to reply directly to the  listserv.  If your client could use some skills around process  improvement, ordering and inventories, and basic systems princples,  you could consider the Beer Game.  You could run it in the evening (2  hours) and do the debrief (1 hour) the following day.  If it's a  shared resource issue, the Fishbanks game could work, as well. If you're interested in a simulation based teambuilding exercise, let  me know some more specifics: issues client faces, industry, etc...

Chris Soderquist


Invited the team to go in to find a bare table...In order to  eat, the team had to set the table to the agreed standard.. fold  napkins..agree a seating plan staff acted as trainers.  great humour and good learning...ever seen a leader struggling to fold  napkins in the correct way?  Hired a group of musicians to teach salsa beats...after dinner the group  (about 50) broke into 2 and were instructed on how to play their  instruments...came back together and played in unison (almost!). again  worked well...can still feel the rib cage vibrating!  Had a talent night after dinner...invited people to share a  talent....following the normal few minutes of nervous silence  ....discovered singers, poets, comedians and musicians,... another  memorable night.  good luck 

Steve Spreckley


Such a situation might be the opening evenings at IAF conferences. We have entrtainement, but we always have something cool to do to get to know the people around us. Often, these activities have larger meaning for the organization as well as the individuals in their table groupings. One year we metaphorically created wisdom bags, which I confess I'm not too keen on the display kinds of mechanisms, but the actual trading of our best ideas was significant. Other years we've built a "Wall of Wonder", which is a social scan that captures on the wall a multi-dimensional picture of who we are and what we care about. These kinds of features differentiate IAF conferences from the rest, for me. The emphasis on plugging me, the individual member/attendee, into the larger context of my collegial network is played out in practical and fun meal-time opportunities that complement and enhance the rest of the conference esperience. IAF conferences are planned like every minute is golden.  And it works. I can't wait to see what Nadine and her crew has planned for IAF 2002.  Regards,



I have worked with a group following a dinner served with wine and the  outcome was absolutely wonderful.  The group seemed to gel and felt relaxed,  so that as we went into our team building exercises they were warm and  receptive and more creative.  It was also an overnight retreat so the next  morning it was good to measure their response to the work the night before,  and what I experienced was that the warmth that was experienced the night  before carried forward into the morning.  I, for one, say go for it and  enjoy.  And this is from someone who abstains from use of alcohol, too.....:) 

Chris Morton


I did an activity after a monthly project "team" luncheon -- the first such luncheon _without_ a few glasses of wine, so it's not exactly parallel. Everyone knew they had to go back to work after lunch, and the client was represented as well (several client people were on the project team).  The "team" was organized into subteams -- business modelers, project control office, technology architects, applications developers, and so on. (There was also a communications and training team, but since I was the only one on it and I was running the show, I didn't have to participate.) Before the luncheon I created stations around the room equal to the number of teams, each with 5 sheets of easel paper on the wall and 4 colors of markers.  I also put a "who's at the table" sheet at each table (one thing everyone at the table has in common, one thing for each person that is not shared by anyone else at the table).   As people arrived, they sat with their friends or wherever they could find a seat and had to fill out the "who's at the table" sheet before they could go to the buffet.  After lunch, each table said the one thing they had in common and gave one or two of the more unique individual things (this got them out of their lunches and back into the group, while giving the stragglers a chance to finish dessert).  Then I had them reorganize into their teams, one team at each station (I think I posted the team names above the easel paper) and gave them 20 minutes to draw a team logo.  I explained that they had extra paper in case they wanted to start over.  We went around and each team explained what they had drawn.  It caused each team think a little bit about "team basics" (purpose, aspirations, goals, way of working together, holding each other mutually accountable) without hitting them over the head or lecturing about team basics -- it was more "directed fun:" enough fun that they didn't feel like their monthly reward lunch/down time had been usurped, enough purpose that they didn't feel like they were wasting time. At least three of the teams then took their posters back to the office and posted them in their work spaces. 



Is the client expecting some game that would reveal previously-hidden facets of personality (pretty dangerous after a few drinks, I'd say), or some real team development?  You might consider some relaxed conversations, with a person at each table on point to probe for questions and lead discussion.  Or you could ask the participants to submit issues for discussion, and ask each table to carry forward and come up with a planned approach if not possible courses of action or solutions.  Yesterday evening, we (the company I joined in Sept) received a cash infusion --- $17 million --- from VCs.  After the champagne, we sat around the conference table and talked about where we go from here, what changes we know are coming, and what decisions we will each need to make.  Pretty good team building. 

Mary Jackson


Sounds like a good opportunity for lots of singing games ala German beer-drinking songs, and a fraught with danger opportunity for anything else. IMHO. Anything that requires reflection and constraint is going to be a problem, methinks. Solidarity rather than actual team building games. Maybe even drinking games (without any additional drinking). See for example: Numbers - - and variations (Prince of Wales - - and Big Booty - ) and of course the ever bizarre Knee Games  There are good sources for many more such inane frivolities on the web should you choose to explore this in greater depth - - for example.  Perhaps even a group warm-up game like The Sound and the Fury  All fun, all requiring only a minimum of reflection. I've had some of my worst experiences with groups under the influence, and would resort to these games under these conditions only if there were no alternative. On the other hand, a good time will be had by most.