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Team trust – no ropes attached!
March 15th, 2020



If the goal is to build sustainable team trust, high ropes trust may not be widely transferable or reproducible.

I am always amazed when I see what teams create in my sessions. From a hilarious improv skit, to moving poems and songs in which they have expressed their need to unite and overcome. They have produced incredible vision statements, models from scraps and recyclables, simulations of their ideas and innovations, and highly advanced objectives and implementation plans that have come from their effective consensus-building. The work that gets accomplished is the height of collective creativity. And vulnerability. And no high ropes in sight!

By the time we get to the inventive part of the session, they very naturally trust each other with their playfulness, their wildest ideas, critiques, questions, challenges and what ifs. 

High ropes and similar injury-defying group work can be one way to test trust or force it to a place it has never been before with the team. This test in and of itself can be transformational, but does it have longevity? Does this type of brief, life-altering trust that doesn’t happen under normal circumstances have a future with the team?

I focus on helping teams create conditions for repeatable, reproducible trust that relates to how they need and want to work together. Trust that relates to their reality and the degree of vulnerability they need with each other for reliance, support and conflict resolution so they can become more masterful in creating their unique trust-aware culture. 

After a session, since most teams are not returning to a Google-style office space with slides and pool tables, the team can go back to their workplace and put the small things they found useful in place. Boxes with scraps of materials, objects, photos, old magazines, sticky notes and playdoh, anything they can use to express themselves creatively and intuitively. 

They can refurnish a room in the workplace (that ideally has natural light) with comfy chairs and a kettle and coffee machine, a white board or pin board, and lots of coloured markers and ‘stuff’ to stimulate their tactile and playful side. They can take the experience they had of success with trust and self-expression to whatever level is needed. 

In team-building, trusting each other to not let each other physically fall is about having each other’s back, literally and figuratively. Sharing your wildest, out-there ideas, accepting each others’ ideas and building on them together also means no one wants to let the team down.

Witnessing each other’s playful, even weird side and learning that they did not get hurt once while expressing their unique selves, builds trust in self expression. A type of trust worth building. 

If a facilitator has done valuable work, the team can reproduce the conditions under which they built trust, and continue their work on team development. Our task is to set people up to be their own change-makers.