A “Stupid Idea” That Became A Team Building Hit

A “Stupid Idea” That Became A Team Building Hit


It all started with a really stupid idea on my part.

In the midst of my last-minute Christmas shopping, I grabbed a fitbit® to give to our daughter, Mal. She had recently expressed interest in elevating her workout schedule, so I thought it would help her track her progress.

Now, if you’ve not yet been exposed to fitbit®, it’s one of the new generations of wearable activity trackers that are becoming more and more popular. I bought the one that had a few more bells and whistles, and for a minute, even considered buying one for myself. However, after looking at my Christmas budget, I reconsidered and just bought the one.

When talking to my wife, Iris, later that week, I ran down the list of what I’d bought. When I got to the fitbit®, my purchase was met with sheer derision.

I think the exact quote was something like, “She’ll never use it. Why did you waste money on that, you stupid man?”

Ok, so I added the “stupid man” part, but the look I got was enough to convey what she was thinking. I defended my gift choice, and added a, “Well, we’ll see.”

Christmas morning came around and eventually, the big unveiling took place. I was hoping I would be vindicated, instead of having to admit how stupid I’d been. But when the last wrapper came off, and I enthusiastically explained to my daughter what it was, I knew it was over.

“Sorry dad, but I think this is a return.”

It only took a few microseconds for it to come out.

“I told you…” (I know you’ve been there before. How many times in our life have we all heard that, or said it ourselves?)

But then suddenly my son, Ben, came to the rescue, “If Mal doesn’t want it, I’d like to use it. I think it’ll help me with my workout.”

Fast forward two weeks later.

We had assembled for our weekly family meal. Think of a much smaller version of the Sunday meal on Blue Bloods. By the way, can those people drink or what?

In between the discussions about a wide range of life events, suddenly Iris exclaims, “Ben, are you using that fitbit® thing?”

Ben sheepishly admitted that he had not yet used it. Then, Iris told us about a lunch she had attended where everyone was showing off their fitbit®. She was so excited because she was convinced it could help her walk more. Being the super competitive type, she would be able to compare her progress with others.

So now the new, highly regarded device was transferred to Iris, and that’s when the idea hit her like a blue bolt of lightning! Everyone at the agency could get one, and then we’d all encourage each other. Who knows, the staff might actually use the walking desk/treadmill we’d had installed last year!

The next day, Iris excitedly announced “The Plan” to everyone, and we offered to incentivize a portion of it ourselves. A majority of the team signed on and ordered a fitbit®.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Even though the initial idea seemed like a failure, it did eventually lead to a terrific team building experience. Our agency is enthusiastically utilizing the technology, and everyone is encouraging each other to get moving. In fact, I think in the 26 years of our business, it’s the single best program we’ve introduced.

How about you? Do you have some ideas or approaches you’ve used in your company that has worked well? Pass along your team building success stories, so we can learn from your brilliant ideas!