Merge's Blog

Good team building is good team learning

team buildingI am thrilled that my professional colleague and friend Tyler Hayden is today’s guest on the blog.  Tyler’s latest book – Virtually Engaged Team Building Activities – published earlier this year, and when I read it, I knew that his ideas would be of great interest to all of you. So I asked him if he would write a guest post.  Here it is!

Good team building is good team learning

Engaging today’s workers is about aligning the activities you do with the, to their learning intelligences.  Professor Howard Gardener from Harvard wrote about Multiple Intelligences in his book Frames of Mind.  It outlined the eight most common intelligences you find.

  • Interpersonal Intelligence
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence
  • Kinaesthetic Intelligecne
  • Naturalistic Intelligence
  • Visual Spatial Intelligence
  • Mathematical Logical Intelligence
  • Musical Intelligence
  • Linguistic Intelligence

In our practice of building team events, we first design the learning outcomes and the intake group’s learning preference. We do this either using our Multiple Intelligence Quotient tool or utilizing general assumptions based on the modalities require to be successful in the jobs of the team (i.e. engineers are usually weighted in Mathematical Logical Intelligence).  From here we use a selector tool to help choose debrief, rewards, energizers, ice breaker, team building activities and so on that focus to the groups predominate intelligence(s).  

Here’s how this works

For example, one Project Manager I was working with told me her group of NASA engineers “hate doing fluffy get-to-know you activities.” I directed her to an activity called Commonalities (you can try it for free at  This activity was a good one for this group because it is quantifiable, quick, a clear winner, etc.  All things that the Mathematical Logical Learner wants in what they do.  They loved it, and now she chooses activities that align with her teams’ intelligence and is having great success. 

The trick is to choose things that aren’t necessarily focused on what you want to do or what the CEO loves to do… but rather what the people in the room want to do.  By aligning how they like to learn, you scratch off the “fluff” that is often associated with engagement activities and replace that soft sheen with engaged, meaningful learning development (“That was fun!”)

If you want to learn more about Multiple Intelligences check out these two books by Tyler at his website,

  1. Virtually Engaged Team Building Activities
  2. The Business that Cared About People

So I’d love to know your reaction.  Are you finding that your people are engaged when it comes to team building and team learning?  If not, what are you doing to change that?  Please add your thoughts below.

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