A news story slipped by my blog-oscope yesterday, even though I featured it in the IT News Digest newsletter. I couldn’t resist it for two days in a row, so without further adieu: “In corporate ‘Spy Game,’ work equals play.”

According to this story, “‘The Spy Game’ is the latest corporate team building exercise from the creators of ‘The Go Game,’ which hundreds of companies nationwide have used over the years to facilitate effective teamwork… teams of five to 10 co-workers set out to solve a mystery, like the disappearance of an executive, or some other corporate intrigue. The idea is to get team members to collaborate on projects and learn more about delegating and sharing responsibility.”

Ian Fraser, a co-founder of The Go Game, explains the three main types of missions that players face:

  1. “Sneak and snoop around” missions – these “require players to find something stashed in a public place by one of the game’s facilitators or to interpret a piece of public art work looking for a message related to the story line.”
  2. “Plant” missions – the “players have to figure out a way to unearth the hidden actor in a public place.”
  3. “Creative” missions – these “require participants to solve a task and create some form of video with their camera–like a review of a hot product in the year 2050–often in some way related to the client company’s products or services.”     

I have to admit that it does sound like fun. But all this fun has to be expensive, right? “TeamBuildingUSA.com charges clients as much as $225 a person, for groups that can number in the hundreds… The Go Game typically charges about $100 a head and can facilitate groups of 3,000 or more. For ‘The Spy Game,’ the groups are limited to about 250 people. Companies seem to be willing to pay that much because they feel the games get results.” At that price, I should hope so!

TechRepublic has never participated in The Go Game, but we did have a team building exercise almost two years ago that was insightful and fairly entertaining. We played the “Toyota assembly line” game, where co-workers grouped at several tables and put together car pieces in an assembly line fashion. Each person had a set job, including a “conveyance” person who acted like a go-between worker – and there was even a emergency shut-down chord we could pull at every station if there were any problems. Was the training worth the hefty price they most likely paid? Probably not. However, there was a sense of camaraderie that was formed during that time, mostly in the way of inside jokes and “Can you remember when we assembled CARS? Sheeeesh…”

What other types of team building exercises have you experience or heard about? I’m interested in hearing about the successful ones and the complete failures.