Three Simple Exercises for Startup Offsites

This past Wednesday was a special day for the team at SalesLoft. We spent the first half volunteering for Junior Achievement with six graders who want to run businesses and we spent the latter half doing a team offsite.

We we went through three exercises, grew a ton, and had a blast. We modeled the exercises from ideas in the book, The Advantage.

Here’s what we did:

  1. First, we did a quick icebreaker. We wanted to establish the importance of trust and vulnerability so each of us gave a story about our childhood including number of siblings and where we grew up. The most important piece however was one of the challenges we faced as a child. This allowed us to get transparent with each-other.Here is an excerpt from the book:

    The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.”

  2. The second exercise was a little more intense we asked the leadership team to write down on a piece of paper the single biggest area of strength for each person that makes the team stronger. Then we did the same focusing on an aspect of how each person sometimes hurts the team. We shared these with each-other.
  3. Lastly, we answered the six questions from the advantage. Here are those questions:Why do we exist?
    How do we behave?
    What do we do?
    How will we succeed?
    What is most important, right now?
    Who must do what?

I got a lot of value from these exercises and really feel like the team has awesome momentum heading into 2014. Have you done exercises like this? How have they worked for you?

Here are my notes from the event:

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