On St. Patrick’s day, I shared with the office Tim Dunne’s (a creativity consultant in France) article that rated beer drinking’s impact on team building. Tim gives it an average score, 25 out of 50 potential points, but we at Artefact have proof that it can be a core component of bonding time. In fact, we’re proud to announce the official launch of the Artefact Kegerator.
And here’s our beer drinking ratings against Dunne’s team building dimensions (on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is low and 10 is high):
Beer drinking… Provides a shared experience
Dunne: 5 of 10
Artefact: 8 of 10
Every Thursday around 4:30pm Artefactians gather around our capacious kitchen island to unwind the week. There are appetizers and beer and wine. Music streams from the Sonos amplifier. We joke that Thursday is the new Friday. We wonder what the name of that cheese is that we get almost every week and yet can never recall. We build upon a shared experience that accumulates week after week.
Beer drinking… Promotes disclosure among participants
Dunne: 9 of 10
Artefact: 10 of 10
We learn so much about each other around the kitchen island – in sharing everything from Tron movie reviews, recipes for Austrian punch, and love/hate stories of the latest Windows phone to news of engagements, birth plans, and the magic age for ultimate happiness (answer: 47 according to http://www.economist.com/node/17722567).
Dunne says this kind of disclosure promotes more than the happy-feel-goods:
“Disclosure builds trust. Trust builds team… When you tell me something about yourself, you are making an investment in me, in us. You grant me the honor of trusting me with that information. “
Beer drinking… Levels the playing field between colleagues
Dunne: 7 of 10
Artefact: 10 of 10
There’s not much hierarchy to begin with at Artefact, but there is zero hierarchy around the kitchen isle. Some sit, some stand. We jockey for best position around the cheese plate or the pile of chicken wings. The most engaging story or person holds the floor until they are usurped by the next topic of interest. And that’s it. It doesn’t matter what your role is in this forum. We are all just people.
There is one hierarchical key to success for us, which is that Rob and Gavin often start the exodus to the kitchen every week. Their behavior reinforces the notion that the Thursday happy hour break is an important part of our culture.
Beer drinking… Builds trust
Dunne: 3 of 10
Artefact: 8 of 10
Dunne says that “no direct trust building is going on” during beer drinking, but because it promotes disclosure it is a token advance towards building trust. I think it’s a stronger impact than that.
Trust emanates from a willingness to be vulnerable around one another, to let down one’s guard and admit that we all have our weaknesses as well as strengths. A big step towards getting to that point is to make that personal investment in knowing who we are as people as well as colleagues. We are ten times more likely to make those personal connections around the beer taps than the conference table.
Beer drinking… Increases self-awareness
Dunne: 1 of 10
Artefact: 5 of 10
Okay, so we’re not building in five minutes of reflective time at the end of every happy hour to consider what the event means in the big picture of Artefact. Still, I would argue from personal experience that the bus ride or car ride home on Thursday results in a different kind of reflection than any other day of the week. Maybe I’m a little bit looser in my thinking of a problem that I’ve been wrestling with because of something I shared at the counter. Maybe I learned something about a colleague that makes me reconsider a preconceived notion of them. Or maybe I just feel damn good about working at a place like this.
So, we give beer drinking 41 out of 50 points for a quality team building exercise. Cheers to that!