A director in an insurance company had thirty people working under her, fragmented into three groups sitting in different areas. They felt an urge for connection. Not just, "I met everybody," but "Oh wow, I really appreciate these people and the big effort I'm a part of." She asked us to accomplish three things in one day: have people really see each other, really see the group, and the day had to be truly fun.
This was such a great request because it let us design an arc of activities that invited increasing depth and vulnerability through the day. Connection requires openness and honesty. And because everybody brings their old poop into something like this, people must feel free to choose how much they want to reveal about themselves.
After simple introductions, we gave people note cards and everyone milled around collecting stories from each other. Small groups made "Death in a Minute Plays"—ten minutes to write and rehearse, everyone has a role, the play lasts one minute, and someone has to die. Then show time! Followed by a pub quiz. After lunch each person painted an image of their past and future, adding it to a huge cardboard tapestry. The storytelling tour of these panels was truly profound. At day's end we walked down the street for happy hour. The director told us that this day began relationships and a lasting, relaxed, and happy way of collaborating.
Hanna du Plessis of Fit Associates was my collaborator. Local artists helped us make the big cardboard gallery wall, and other artists provided the venue. We found a little startup catering company to make and serve lunch for everyone. It's another kind of magic because the process not only achieved the connections the group is looking for, it also made connections with the community of creators in Pittsburgh.
Connecting our collective creativity together is something for us all.