Research & Innovation at University of Aberdeen

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Background

Research & Innovation (R&I) at University of Aberdeen are a dedicated department whose goal is to maximise the income for university research, through providing specialist knowledge and advice. As well as identifying intellectual property opportunities and exploring innovative ideas to engage with. They are the initial contact for anyone wishing to access the university's research expertise. 

Brief

What makes good teams good?

The R&I Team were asked this question at the beginning of their team-building day at the Aberdeen Conference Centre. Following an internal restructure there was an opportunity for several groups to come together to break down barriers and work collaboratively as one department.

At BlueSky Experiences we work with our customers to help them identify an aim and objectives for their team events. This was a chance for everyone to meet new people, develop a common approach to removing aspects of a ‘silo’ culture in a fun way.  There was an additional benefit of transferring the learning back to a practical approach back in the workplace.

BlueSky Approach

The day commenced with an introductory welcome from Liz Rattray, Director of R&I before launching into some thought provoking debate to identify the essential qualities of high performing teams.  A short video of an F1 pit-stop team helped illustrate the Research & Innovation team’s input.  The importance of goals, roles, team operating processes, relationships and inter-team relationships were identified and reinforced throughout the day. We also considered how individuals & teams learn, a variety of perceptions and an introduction to personality profiling to illustrate the value of diverse characters in teams.

The remainder of the event focused on learning through randomly splitting the delegates into three groups for a serious of team exercises.

Synergy is an exercise that involves sharing information to identify unknown secret agents.  A series of cards are shared randomly among the team and through communication two objectives must be identified and problems solved. Sounds easy? Remember, we are dealing with a range of personalities; some of whom will want to talk and some will want to listen. Will the extroverts ask questions to draw the introverted people into the conversation? Success can only be achieved by sharing & contributing information. Add in a dash of problem solving skills and the answers will be revealed.

Our next challenge is House of Cards. Will our delegates be skilled in negotiation? How strong are trust levels? Will the team succeed or will the exercise collapse like a house of cards?

Finally we set the challenge of Networking. Will the team see the big picture?  The temptation to focus on their own goals can be overwhelming for some. How will this impact on the other’s success?

Outcome

After each exercise a review takes place, answering the following questions. What went well? What could be improved? What will we do differently next time? Towards the end of the event the teams are encouraged to reflect on their learning from the day and consider how this can be used back in the workplace. Through reflection and action planning individuals & teams can decide how to improve their departmental team-working climate & organisational culture.

The Research & Innovation team certainly contributed fully to their team-building event and left with plenty to consider back at University of Aberdeen.    

 

The day was a great success – we all got to know members of the new team that we have not yet had a chance to work with which was a key objective for our day. The team challenges – while appearing straightforward on the surface – were more tricky than most of us realised initially. The BlueSky team were great and were on hand throughout to keep us on track. At the end of the event however, all the groups felt that they had improved their teamwork throughout the day! The exercises highlighted the importance of all the various elements of teamwork, in particular communication. Everyone enjoyed the day, but more importantly we have a lot of learning to take back to the work place, and plenty we can work on for the future.

Nicola Pearce - Business Development Manager Read more testimonials
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