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Are team building events a waste of time? Carlos Valdes-Dapena thinks so.

Author of the book “Lessons from Mars: How One Global Company Cracked The Code on High Performance Collaboration and Teamwork”, Valdes-Capena has summed up some of his ideas and findings in a Harvard Business Review article that makes an interesting case.

Anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment is familiar with this kind of event. Whether it’s a department outing to a ballgame, a team ropes course challenge, or a symphony that’s thematically hired to help you “get in harmony” in the workplace, team-building events are usually designed to feel like a big deal and bring people together.

But as Valdes-Capena points out, these events are usually quite expensive.

So when working at Mars, he set out to uncover what pricey team-building events really do for the organization. What was the secret? Not much.

Turns out that these events didn’t have lasting power in enhancing workplace culture, and thereby had no real impact on the bottom line of the company’s efficiency.

Read the article to learn more about what Valdes-Capena did next, and how it made an impact. There are some really interesting things to consider here. This feels like the kind of thinking that could change the way a lot of organizations handle team collaboration and production.

Here is an excerpt Valdes-Capena writes after his study was through at Mars.:

I spoke with the general manager of Mars Petcare China a few times over the next year. During our final conversation I learned that their growth had rocketed up 33% — a stunning achievement. Their primary dog food brand alone was up 60%. It was the first time in eight years that they had met their financial commitments to the larger corporation. How much did our work together contribute to those outcomes? “Massively,” the general manager told me. Their team purpose had focused their collaboration on the things that mattered most to the results they planned for. The sense of accountability for their work together, based on the agreements they forged, made their working relationships far more productive than they had been.

Consider his final statement in the article as a big takeaway from his experience:

Strong relationships and trust do matter to collaboration, but they are not the starting point. They are the outcomes of dedicated people striving together. Connecting collaboration to the motives of success-minded team members is what unlocks productive teamwork.