Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Scrum - New Corporate Lingo for Team building?

Someone mentioned to me the other day that they were hoping to be picked as a "Scrum Master". You're looking to play rugby I thought? Is this a new term for a rugby captain? No, A Scrum Master is the new corporate buzz word for a self-organized team leader. The goal of a "Scrum" is to take a group of individualistic people and create a cohesive, agile team where each member supports each other, ideas are shared and used to push a project forward even when it seems stalled.
When I talk to businesses interested in organizing a team building event, I often hear about how the employees are hesitant to participate in team building activities. They imagine that the ice breaker exercises and trust falls will be silly and the ropes course physically intimidating. Employees question whether or not they will learn anything about each other to function as a better team. I can tell you from over 37 years experience as a professorial team builder, that by the end of the day, I have never left a group who has not grown better for the experience. It's just getting them over the first hurdle of questioning and doubt that is key.
So where does my point of a "Scrum" come in? I see that the successful elements of the new corporate "Scrum Team" are no different than the teams I build on the ropes course. I am the Scrum Master. I give my groups a problem to solve. They brainstorm solutions. I encourage their success. We all sprint to a solution. Our sense of team is developed and pride is gained through what we have accomplished by the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why Everyone Should Experience the Strength Deployment Inventory

As the leader of team building adventure programs in the Washington DC metro area, UEI is pleased to introduce our latest tool that can be incorporated into your team development programs, Strength Deployment Inventory® (SDI) . The SDI empowers people in their relationships at work getting individuals to understand how and why people react the way they do in different circumstances.

So what is the SDI?
SDI is a program of psychometric tests and a practical methodology for empowering people to improve relationships and manage conflict more effectively. It is based on the theory of Relationship Awareness®, a self-learning model for effectively and accurately understanding and inferring the motive behind the behavior. 

How can SDI create effective teamwork for my organization?
SDI is memorable... It’s a highly visual, easy to understand tool that uses experiential teaching methods to help participants internalize the learning. Results are measurable by using the SDI approach.

SDI illuminates the reason for our actions... It provides a picture of what is important to us — going beyond behavior to reveal our driving motivation. Learn to recognize each individuals strengths and skill and how to harness this power for the betterment of the team.

SDI depersonalizes conflict... It’s a non-threatening way to deal with the interpersonal conflict that is too often avoided. Through SDI your group will gain respect and trust of other team members.

SDI honors our differences... It’s an inventory of the unique way we value different strengths and interpret the actions of others. It encourages the group to be more flexible and creates acceptance of each others ideas.

Interested and want to learn more? Let us know next time you call to book your organizations retreat at UEI. 301-834-6140

-Clive Felgate
SDI Level 1 Certified Facilitator, US11106

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Heading into the Winter... Team Building Indoors

Team building can happen anywhere. You don't need come outdoors to our ropes course. Take a look at this cool indoor team building exercise.

Upward Enterprises can run an indoor team building program at your facility or at your conference facility at the Claggett Center. This is a great solution for running programs throughout the winter months and also a great add-on feature to a high/low challenge course.  301-834-6140

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Little Bit of Team Building, Science and Engineering

This advertisement for Coke has all the elements of a great team building exercise. What amazing fun! I see that same sense of excitement and accomplishment in the eyes of the people at our ropes course.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where do kids get inspiration from these days?

I watched Felix Baumgartner parachute to the earth from inner space the other day and wondered if the youth of today would be inspired by this huge feat of adventure. 24 miles above the earth's surface wearing a space suit. Truly inspirational!

It got me to thinking about where the youth of today really do get their inspiration from. As a team builder I work a lot with youth of all ages and with my adventure ropes course. Many of these youth have sporting heroes for inspiration but events in recent times have left them wanting.  Drug enhanced performances in the cycling world and baseball and poor moral judgement from top athletes in golf and basketball to name just a few.

How does this effect the the youth that idolizes these heroes?

I know I felt flattened and disappointed when the results of an athletic achievement I thought I witnessed, now all have to be erased from the history books because of cheating. And the players I inspired to live up to, are now socially outcast because of their indiscretions.

I realized that coaches and teachers are not without fault and even religious organizations have had bad reports in recent years. I guess it all comes back to the parents who must step up to the mark and be all they can be for the kids that they are responsible for to the best of their abilities. I will become a father again in the new year and my inspiration will be to do just that. It is my responsibility to inspire not only my own children, but all children, by doing my utmost best to ensure that I do not let them down. If I can help other kids through my work and adventure then maybe I can sleep well at night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leaf Peeping Ziplining Through the Trees

What a beautiful fall day out on the Upward Enterprises team building ropes course. The leaves are a golden shade of yellow and burnt red. We wish we could have everyone come out and share with us the amazing colors.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has a wonderful website giving you a guide to find fall foliage. The leaves might have peaked in Western Frederick County but we have plenty of them to see. Book an event at our course before the last leaf falls. 301-834-6140

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting our Adventure on with FiNDiT Frederick

Back about a month ago, Upward Enterprises had the pleasure of having the staff of FiNDiT Frederick come out to our ropes course in Buckeystown for an afternoon of team building. Melissa Howes-Vitek of the magazine wrote a great follow-up article for the magazine. Many of the people who come out to my course are hesitant to participate because they are afraid they will fail or the activities will be too scary. Melissa and her group are great proof that coming out to the team building course and tackling those fears can change your life. Melissa, we here at Upward Enterprises are inspired by you. Please, if you have the time, check out her story and video below.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Is There an "I" in Team?

A new book came out this July entitled, "There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance."

Written by Mark de Rond, a Professor at the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School, this book explores the opposite of the oft heard saying "there's no I in team" which is defined as individual achievement is not superior to the good/results of the team. In writing his book he used social and psychological research he gathered from high performance sports teams and individual athletes to support his hypothesis that you should harness the talent of individuals in creating a productive team.

I agree with his statement that there is an "I" in team, but so as not to be contentious, I will explain my thoughts and interpretation of the assertion. Each team must be able to recognize its strengths and weaknesses, in addition to the perceived weaknesses of the individuals within the team.

Each individual has a pattern of behavior when working with team members, and that pattern can be assessed by the team and its leaders to obtain the best effort from the individual.  This pattern can change depending upon the situation an individual finds themselves in, and in relation to the amount of stress or conflict that may ensue. I like a processing tool called The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) to analyze individual’s behavior during normal situations, and how they react during conflict.
The whole subject is fascinating and somewhat lengthy to explain but if you are interested in finding out more then go to the SDI web page or email me for more information on how SDI can be used help understand your team.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

High School Teen Mentors Benefit from Day of Team Building

I was happy to welcome a group of 12 students from St John's Catholic Prep of Frederick Maryland who were being prepared as mentors to incoming freshmen this semester. Their teachers and counselors had set goals for the day and the students, I am sure, had some goals of their own. Even though the school is very close to the Upward Enterprises ropes course, this was the first time the school had ever come for team building. After the day’s successful outcome, I am hopeful they come back with more students.  

It was easy to see right from the start that this group was going to be receptive to the education that I was about to introduce to them. We started with the formal introductions and got straight into what team building meant.

One of the team building activities I set up for them was to get the team through a hoop in the fastest possible time. They had most of the "Cliché" answers but could they put the theory into action? Immediately they had questions about what through the hoop meant and if there were any rules or boundaries. As I watched the group work together, they came up with the following strategy virtually by themselves.

  1. Defined the goal and confirmed exactly what “through the hoop meant”.
  2. Set the standards to which they all agreed to work by.
  3. Confirmed the start and finish lines.
  4. Tested their theory several times to collect data and changed their strategy as more ideas were gathered.
  5. Completed the task in 9.2 seconds before they showed no further improvement.
  6. Processed the whole experience so as to learn what and where the new found skill and group dynamic could be used in the future.

 All this in one activity! Whew…

After that we moved on to the cable traverse, affectionately know as the Mohawk Walk. This is a series of 4 cables that have various elements one can to use on the crossing to the given destination. Here the group was tested. The students had some great ideas which worked right off the bat. However other ideas created consequences to be paid. They quickly learned that consequences can immediately slow things down putting the entire process in jeopardy. Strengths and challenges of the group as a whole were taken into consideration and the group started to work around them. This synergy lead to a major break-through idea that then set the path. The end was now in sight. Time was running out to finish the exercise, adding more pressure, but with that came focus and determination.

The whole task was completed to rapturous applause and celebration. It was amazing to watch this group learn and grow as a team right before my eyes. As a reward, the St. John students got to ride the zip line at the ropes course. But what has riding a zip line got to do with team building I asked? Of course I got all the right answers.

The students gained a rewarding learning day that they can carry with them throughout their lives. The teachers went away with a little more knowledge and pride in their students and a mountain of metaphors to use in the future when the time arises.

I went away with another gratifying day in my outdoor classroom knowing that I contributed to the future of the next generation in America.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a zip line and high ropes adventure can teach you

Thanks Kimbra for writing such a great article on your visit to our Upward Enterprises ropes course that appeared in the June 2012 issue of Chesapeake Taste. Hope to see everyone come out and experience the same.

On nearly the last zip line day, the one that ended with a high-speed collision into a cargo net, my husband, Mike, hollered through the trees, “Look down!” So I focused on the ground as I launched myself off the platform. For the first time all day, I actually recognized that I was falling--- ….

To read the rest of Kimbra and her families experience, go to the full article on Chesapeake Taste here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Be Inspired by the Summer Olympics

Are you inspired by the Summer Olympics to get out and see how you can push yourself to go beyond the expected?

The Olympic spirit is more than just the winning, it’s the taking part. It's easy to overlook that element of the experience and focus just on the winners but if you talk to the Olympians, the “taking part” is also an important achievement. Look at all the men and women that streamed into the stadium last Friday night in London. Most will not win a metal but none of them will forget the feeling of being a part of the Olympic team. They will carry that experience with them the rest of their lives of reaching beyond the expected.

These teams are successful with people working together. To be successful at the Olympic level these teams need trust, support and communication between team mates and coaches. While our activities out at the ropes course don't include synchronized swimming or equestrian horse jumping, there are plenty of elements that exemplify team building in the Olympic spirit.

Work as a team on the ropes course on our Mohawk Walk (a cable traverse). Imagine your group as gymnasts trying to traverse a balance beam. It takes coordination and team work to get the group across without falling off but what a sense of accomplishment your group will experience when you figure out a way to accomplish the goal. There are many more experiences out at the ropes course just like this.

Set your goals. Achieve more than you expect. Be inspired by your small successes.
-Clive Felgate, Upward Enterprises

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Self Discovery Team Building in NY

I was asked to facilitate a self discover class for CECNY in New York recently and wanted share the experience with everyone.

The day stated at 8 am with the group meeting and orientation at a camp set on Long Island. The group consisted of moderately young and middle aged folks. It was very apparent that this group had been doing some work together in the lead up to my program. We went through a series of problem solving activities to assess the group dynamics and watch the inter-action of team members.

The afternoon brought our first high activity which we chose as the vertical play pen. We also used the X Factor which was slightly more challenging for some of the couples who were working in a buddy system. Everybody managed to get to the top of the elements with a little help from the belay team and coaching from the ground staff. This set the tone of the processing and with this group we manage to go so much deeper that our normal program allows.

The benefits, of course, were there to see for everyone. Folks were opening up fully to honest feedback and relationships were definitely strengthened because of the deep discussion.

We finish with a trust fall whichis a very powerful activity and the group broke up to continue their discovery journey until the next time. This process lasted 11 hours which was a long long day but the benefits far outweighed the fatigue and need to get back to creature comforts.

I look forwards to the next event with this group and hopefully we can re-create the scene where people can step outside their comfort zones and be open to honest feedback about themselves and the people around them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Celebrating the Stars and Stripes

Wishing all my friends, co-workers, and clients a very happy 4th of July. Watch some fireworks to celebrate. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Work out for the Marine Veterans

I took a call the other day from a Marine Sargent who was looking to celebrate one of his colleagues' birthday and return from Afghanistan with something a little different. They chose team building at Upward Enterprises and I agreed to take this small group of America's finest on my challenge course.

I guess there could be some similarities.
I arrived at 7:00 a.m., 30 minutes before the agreed start time, only to find they were already on the property and had been there from 6:15 a.m. and travelled 45 minutes to get there. They had hiked the trail already and got an indication of what was to come.
After the formalities and intros we share a few "war stories" and then proceeded to the zip lines and canopy tour. It wasn't long before they came to the opinion that I too was "Hard Core". Even the EOD (Bomb Disposal) Specialist, who was apparently scared of nothing, referred to me as the 'Old Grey Back".

After a couple of hours we changed direction and headed for the Static Tower. More of the same just with more height. Again we shared some old stories and metaphoric relevance's to our experiences and so it came to end of the session and move on with the day.

We left each other's company with a good deal of respect for each other and what we have done and are doing for our countries. I hope these guys will revisit as they said they would.

Keep safe lads and God bless.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zipping, Swinging and Problem-Solving

Written by Karen Highland June 12, 2012, for her website 365 Frederick

We recently participated in a Team Building Retreat with a dozen people from our office. From problem-solving and team-building exercises, on to zip lines and swinging over the Monocacy River, this was a remarkable experience!
Clive Felgate with Team Building Ropes
Course in Background
Clive Felgate owns and operates Upward Enterprises in Adamstown, Maryland. Located on the grounds of the Claggett Retreat Center @ 3035 Buckeystown Pike, they specialize in Team Building and Adventure Programs. On the grounds you’ll find several challenge courses and team-building activities available for Corporate groups, youth groups and birthday and private parties. Some of the activities:
  • Ropes Course Training, over 80 different high and low ropes activities
  • Corporate Team Building
  • Event Planning
  • Rock Climbing
  • Caving
  • Ropes Course Design and Construction
  • Indoor Team Building and Conferences

Our Team Building Retreat

Twelve of us spent 3+ hours together at Upward Enterprises last week. We struggled through two team-building exercises, learning a lot about ourselves, and each other, our communication styles, and how our interactions can improve. I thought it was a valuable experience and took away several points............................
To read the rest of Karen's ropes course experience story go to her website 365 Frederick.
Thanks Karen!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Add Team Building to your Workplace Wellness Program

Did you know that June is National Employee Wellness Month? If you are a corporation looking for an event to encourage employee wellness in celebration of National Employee Wellness Month, how about coming out for a day on the Upward Enterprises ropes challenge course. It's a perfect fit to encourage physical activity along with the benefit of team building. Everyone needs a mental health day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is zip lining a safe activity?

Is flying safe? If you select your zip line operator with the same confidence as your airline operator then the risk you take should be minimal.

The zip line industry has been hit hard in the last few months with some bad press involving zip operators who function outside industry practices with little or no standards.

Yes, zip lining is safe if your operator follows the industry standards and maintains the daily and monthly checks that they should perform to ensure that they are not putting their staff and clients at risk. If you are looking to zip line be sure to find out the qualifications of the company you choose to hire to ensure your safety.

Here at Upward Enterprises, we go above and beyond assuring that all industry standards are met and you have a trained staff member with you at all times when you are the zip line at our ropes course. I encourage my clients to ask about the safety rating and procedures that we enforce to keep them safe.  I have a display of my last inspection and trainings to hand for the client to see. I insist that clients fully understand the protocols of our course and if they chose not to adhere to them, they will not ride.

Zip lining is fun and very rewarding so let's keep our industry safe from both the operator's side and as clients get the answers to questions that will keep everybody safe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Successful Teams Communicate

I just finished reading an interesting article on successful teams posted on the Harvard Business Review website. It seems logical that high-performing teams have a greater degree of communication amongst team members. But what type of communication produces the best results? Face-to-face time with group members, even for a brief time, is critical for employee performance and moral. With the increase of telecommuting and  remote offices where teams can be spread out this can be difficult to achieve but the benefits of bringing your work group together can be enormous. If you are a manager of  a team, we encourage you to bring your group out to our ropes course in Buckeystown, Maryland. We specialize in breaking down barriers to communication and with the addition of our SDI processing we can help your team realize its potential and reduce conflicts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Team Building Experience has Positive Effect on Youth Group

Mon, 19 Mar 2012
OH MY GOD did the kids have an ABSOLUTE blast! Thank you so much for such a great first memory as a team. I can't wait to build on this throughout the season. The kids wrote in their journals that this was the best day in their whole lives!

Thank you so much, we can't wait to come back next year!

Jessica Klinger
Spanish Teacher 1 and 2
Girls Lacrosse Coach
Smithsburg High School

Makes what we do at Upward Enterprises so rewarding when we hear this kind of feedback from our clients.
-Clive Felgate

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Outdoor Team Building Worth It?

Recently while searching the Internet on team building articles, I came across this blog posting by a woman who calls herself "Team Doc" who says she has been working with teams for years improving leadership. She wrote, "For identifying specific leadership traits, I think an outdoor team building activity is a poor method. I’m a strong leader and do lead in outdoor activities, but I’m not athletic and would probably not demonstrate what someone was looking for."

As the owner of the largest Team Building and Outdoor Challenge Course Company in the Washington DC Metro area, I wanted to offer my comments on this topic.
First I would like to say that outdoor team building does NOT require athletic ability. If that is her impression, she did not hire the right team builder. We have many types of individuals come to our course from those with handicaps to people in their 80's. UEI encourages everyone to participate to the degree that they can and are comfortable with (challenge by choice). We never leave anyone out or feeling they are not part of the group team experience.

The activities nor the location of being indoors or outdoors, are not the important factor in a successful team building program.

How you approach a task as a team is the most important and sometimes the right activity and a different location can enhanced that development. Getting away from your normal environment where you always perform well, (well you should because you’ve been doing it for years) and experiencing the unknown is a key way to accelerate the learning.

Secondly team building doesn’t always have to be done outdoors because that would mean I wouldn’t work very much during the winter. We like to sequence our activities, from the apparently simple tasks, to the more mentally challenging and indeed to the upper level of the challenge course. That is not to say that everyone goes to the high challenges in a day or even at all.

The apparently simple tasks need to have the goals defined as do the more complicated ones. Communication and trust with the support of the team has to develop before any ideas on the solution to the problem can even go beyond the proverbial drawing board.  Leadership will develop in due course and it may stem from different and unexpected sources. The trend is to role play within the team in a position that the individual sees themselves in. The point is that most people in our team building environment end up falling into a natural role that both suits them and the nature of the task. This role, however, is not always what is expected from themselves or their team members.

Through simple tasks we set a pattern for problem solving and getting the job done. Upward Enterprises assesses the team goals, helps the group identify resources to achieve those goals then watches as the group puts in place the best person available for a particular task ensuring the learning that goes with such a task is carried forwards outside of the team building exercise and into every day practice.  Whatever type of group you might be, youth to adult, we strive to have everyone who leaves our team building program with that “ah ha” moment where they see the synergy and the power of group dynamics.

I would like your comments and please do not hesitate if you want to discuss further.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jerry Seinfeld vs Jay Leno zip line in New York

I watched with eager anticipation the advert during the Super Bowl for the Acura NSX.The zip line feature full access package offered by Jerry Seinfeld nearly did the trick until Jay Leno turned up with that flying suit. Ah well, I don't have a flying suit to offer but I do have zip lines that will opening again this month. Why not get ahead of the rest and book your adventure now.
Zip Line at Upward Enterprises Facility in Maryland

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Holiday Inn partnership with UEI

I met with the sales team from the Holiday Inn Frederick Conference Center last week and I am really excited about the potential to work together in a partnership. They have great facilities at their Frederick site and I promised to take them to the course and run a small team of their managers through some of the activities for some team bonding of their staff. Our course is less than 10 minutes down the road from the Conference Center making this partnership a perfect match for corporate clients who book the Holiday Inn to get outside for a little while and experience the power of UEI's team building exercises.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Personal Development and Assessment Tool for 2012

Looking for a training course for your group that improves communications, reduces conflict and builds strong leadership skills?

After nearly 10 years since my first introduction to the Strength Deployment Inventory®, we at Upward Enterprises are excited about about the introduction of this valuable tool for team building processing to our curriculum. SDI is a self assessment tool that provides an understanding of what drives or motivates you and what drives others.

Imagine how much stronger your relationships would be if you really understood what made people tick — both when things were going well and when there was conflict and opposition. SDI is a suite of psychometric tests and a practical methodology for empowering people to improve relationships and manage conflict more effectively. Leadership success depends greatly on getting along with others on one's team.

We intend to utilize this tool with great effect in our team building adventure programs for those who wish to go to the next level of understanding group dynamics. I know there are many analytical processing models, and feel free to make your comments,  but I am sure if you experience this particular model you will agree that the simplicity in the SDI method and the understanding gained along with the self evaluation, outweighs most of its counterparts.