Our clients often ask us how our workshop concepts come about. One crucial inspiration are our own experiences and experiments (two of the 6 E’s of our Entrepreneurial Mindset model) – we like to try out new things, flirt with extremes. This approach has been essential in my life so far. I like to be taught by the most honest and straightforward teacher of all: Nature.
Nature was also the patron of the experiment I would like to introduce you to, an uncanny preparation for the pandemic – The Maslow Experiment!
What does it take to create and sustain the fundamental need of survival? That was the question we wanted to ask ourselves and future participants when we drafted the following letter:
May 19th, 2018:
Dear citizens! A viral outbreak has occurred. We ask you all to stay calm and avoid gatherings of people… We recommend leaving larger cities and staying in quarantine zones till the situation is cleared.
Who would have thought that we would be THAT foreseeing when we launched our first »Maslow Experiment«, an immersive team building exercise? looking back, it was a spot-on scenario for the world to come.
I. The Setup
We invited participants to a team building exercise in the countryside of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Northern Germany. The only thing we revealed to them was that they should pack the essentials they would need during the three days we would spend together . Upon arrival, we took everything they brought away from them and asked a simple question:
»What do you need for survival?”
The Maslow essential needs pyramid served as orientation.
We chose the location in a way that participants would not find any means ofmodern civilization such as toilets or water wells. And so the experience began in our »quarantine zone« –backed up by a professional survival guide who helped with essential tips and tricks to get the story going.
II. The Philosophy
We provided an opportunity to dive into a scenario that – by quoting common post-apocalyptic images- allowed our participants to experience challenging team dynamics while struggling to cater for the most basic needs. It was an experiment in stepping up the usual retreats that you might have come to know.
Over the years of experiencing extremes in nature and sports but also in my professional life, I learnt that they help to see analogies. Per definition of the Greek word, it is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another. In science, analogies are used as a means of conceiving new ideas and hypotheses. The latter absolutely resonates with me.
III. The Key Take-Aways
- The team needed to self-organize, solve strenuous tasks from finding water and food to building shelter.
- Participants had to let go of their consumer-attitude. From reaction to action: Become active!
- Everyone got involved.
It was definitely a challenging weekend but it helped us to define hypotheses on the subject of good team dynamics and gave us new ideas for learning journeys.
And in parallel to the current global situation:
If we learned one essential thing from the physical distancing of the pandemic, then it’s for sure the fact that PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE. The sense of belonging and problem solving in teams and not as an individual person is crucial for survival. It was crucial in our Maslow Experiment in 2018 and it is crucial now in the unbelievable situation of the real world 2020/2021.
We’d be happy to share more information if you are interested in stepping up your team dynamics — provided we’ll all be able to meet outdoors again soon. Or you challenge us to create something similar in the virtual realm