We live in a democratic society so it’s general practice to put group decisions to a vote. When choosing a movie to see, a new restaurant to try, or an-after dinner treat, voting can be a perfectly acceptable way to come to a consensus.
First of all, not everyone shares the same mental model of an experience. One of our activities is called WaterWorx- it is a complex, problem-solving activity conducted at tables. Occasionally we have participants walk into the room in which the tables are all set up and they say, “Oh, I thought we were going to a waterpark.” Clearly the same mental model is not shared by all!
Secondly, people can have vastly different experiences with the exact same activity. Take paintball, for instance. Someone who has tried paintball may have had a terrific experience while another may have been injured and had a terrible time. Even though they tried the same thing, they had completely different experiences and now have conflicting opinions on the activity.
Some activities are less clear than others, but no less valuable. Everyone understands what wine-tasting entails and there is little room for interpretation as to what one would experience. But what about an activity that’s a little more ambiguous? It may be less clear as to the final experience, but it doesn’t mean the activity itself will be any less enjoyable.
So often we vote not based on what we know, but on what we think or perceive. We opt for the easiest to reach apple, without considering the incentives that the harder-to-reach apple may reveal. When we put something up for a vote, the only thing we are coming to a consensus of is the popularity of one over the other, not necessarily the effectiveness or enjoyability factor of the team-building event.
We advocate for the leader of the group to make that call based on the outcome you’re hoping for your group. More often than not, the leader of the group can see the big picture. The leader can see which areas of the team’s cohesiveness could use a little work and which are excelling. Based on that big picture and understanding of how the team operates, a team-building activity with the specific outcome in mind can be chosen. By making this decision for your team, you’re centering the backbone of your team through deeper relationships and new ways of thinking.