Here are excerpts from an article in which Grand Dynamics was featured in the New York Times.  The topic:  Return on Investment of outdoor Team Building and Leadership Development and statistical evidence that outdoor team building pays off!   The reference to Grand Dynamics is at the bottom of the article and I have pasted it at the top for quick reference to the ROI.  The remainder of the article is available below.  Enjoy! One trade group claims it has found statistical evidence that outdoor team-building exercises pay off. The Construction Financial Management Association in Princeton, N.J., which represents 7,000 financial professionals, has held annual retreats for new chapter presidents in Jackson Hole, Wyo., since 1995. It asked Grand Dynamics, a consulting firm, to create exercises based on the best sellers “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, on workplace change, and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. William Schwab, the association’s chief executive, said 27 chapter presidents who attended four out of six years had a net annual membership growth rate of more than 10 percent and a membership renewal rate of 81 percent, compared with the average renewal rate for associations of 75 percent. He said 34 chapter presidents who never attended had a 19 percent membership loss in that time. “Without a doubt, we’ve been able to map our chapters’ development based on whether or not the chapter president went through this experience,” Mr. Schwab said. Excerpted from an article by SHARON MCDONNELL, NY Times, Late Edition – Final, Section C, Page 7, Column 3 June 23, 2005
August 23, 2005
Team-Building With a Twist
By SHARON McDONNELL
It was the waiter’s missing shirt button, and the tattoo of a snake and a lizard on his bicep, that clinched it. Fifteen employees, from managers to plant workers, of the Gates Corporation, a Denver maker of automotive and industrial rubber belts and hoses, had already lifted fingerprints near the chalk outlines of two bodies in an alley and a parking garage and found clues like hair, blood, the steak-knife murder weapon and notes about the killings. Then, over dinner in a restaurant, one of them remarked that the waiter’s appearance matched evidence that they had gathered during the day. So the group asked Tim D. Keck, a consultant and retired police chief who was leading the exercise during a quarterly team-building conference in Poplar Bluff, Mo., the location of a company plant, to “arrest” him. Corporate trainers have always had a knack for coming up with offbeat exercises to teach teamwork and build leadership skills. Rope courses and other military-inspired Outward Bound-like tests of endurance have been around for decades. But in the last few years, there has been a shift away from physically demanding and intensely competitive exercises toward more creative and cerebral undertakings, according to the American Society for Training and Development in Alexandria, Va. The new wave of team-building adventures varies from cooking contests à la “Iron Chef” and arts-related activities like playing percussion instruments, staging plays and dancing to outside ventures like sailing and crime scene investigating. “The fact these activities are colorful and different often makes them suspect and controversial, but they can be perfectly legitimate if they achieve a strategic business objective,” said Patricia A. Galagan, vice president for content at the society. Some employees have become believers. “It really helped with thinking and brainstorming, and being observant,” said Clover Stout, a health, safety and environmental protection specialist at Gates, of the mock detective work that began at the Gates plant and fanned out into the town. “At the beginning, nobody wanted to share information – there really was a competition on who could find the clue first. Then we had to work with the other team, and everyone huddled up to share information, and the competition aspect started to go away.” William E. Oden, Mr. Keck’s partner at Performance Insights, a consulting firm in Tulsa, Okla., says the exercise, which they developed just last year and call “C.S.I.: You,” is by far their most popular. “Nice-looking people from middle management are crawling through Dumpsters,” he said. “We had no idea how much people like that. Some men call afterward and ask if their wives can come.” But TV provides more than grist for titles. The craze for reality shows like “Survivor” and “Fear Factor” has fanned the public’s interest in interactive challenges and is a boon to the business, in the view of Sally Mertes-Stone, who has offered grape-stomping as a team-building activity for nearly 15 years as the spa fitness and activities supervisor at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, Calif. Peggy Wilson recalls how frenzied the competition got when about 90 General Mills managers grape-stomped in May on a lawn at the Fairmont, one pair at a time. One person in bare feet would stomp the grapes in a redwood barrel, while the other frantically directed the liquid through a spout in a bid to produce the most juice. “You really had to stand back,” said Ms. Wilson, an executive administrative assistant in the manufacturing division. “I’m not saying it was enough to draw blood, but some people will do just about anything to win.” Team-building activities can also have a democratizing effect among staffers; Ms. Mertes-Stone recalls how the owner of a national hotel chain, then in his 80’s, squeezed into a barrel with some of his managers. “After he finished, he took a swig,” she said. “When the C.E.O. and his top people are doing the same thing, it’s a great equalizer.” Some skeptics feel these exercises have gone too far. Dr. Kenneth Sole, a social psychologist and president of the organizational-change consulting firm Sole & Associates in Durham, N.H., says he does not think such exercises do much good. “There is no need to learn from the ‘analogy’ that we might draw from activities that are far afield, both literally and figuratively,” Dr. Sole said. “Such approaches have the effect of contributing to the avoidance of important issues that people often confront in their efforts to become a successful team.” But proponents of such off-site team-building activities say they do work, if done right. To be effective, these specialists say, they should teach useful skills like communication, trust-building, collaboration and risk-taking in experiences with clear parallels to workplace situations; they should set specific goals for teams, which should consist of people who work together, not of randomly assigned employees; and they should include “debriefing” sessions to reinforce the business lessons and insights learned. One trade group claims it has found statistical evidence that outdoor team-building exercises pay off. The Construction Financial Management Association in Princeton, N.J., which represents 7,000 financial professionals, has held annual retreats for new chapter presidents in Jackson Hole, Wyo., since 1995. It asked Grand Dynamics, a consulting firm, to create exercises based on the best sellers “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, on workplace change, and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. William Schwab, the association’s chief executive, said 27 chapter presidents who attended four out of six years had a net annual membership growth rate of more than 10 percent and a membership renewal rate of 81 percent, compared with the average renewal rate for associations of 75 percent. He said 34 chapter presidents who never attended had a 19 percent membership loss in that time. “Without a doubt, we’ve been able to map our chapters’ development based on whether or not the chapter president went through this experience,” Mr. Schwab said.
For the full actual article link, go here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/business/23retreats.html