Our experience of having conducted corporate team building sessions for exceptionally smart folks have validated the approach we have taken in designing the program features. If you face the challenge of having PHDs, MBA.s and simply smart folks in a training session do consider these approaches I have blogged today. In the design of the your training curriculum do ensure;

Designed activities will cognitively challenge individuals and at the same time it requires the effort of the Team to complete the task
Collaboration within team members and across teams is encouraged
It is designed to be fun and kinesthetically engaging to the learners using active learning techniques

ebnu9 1 1 Team building for exceptionally smart folks


We use an activity that was designed specifically for scientists and post Docs; I called it, “Genome Code”. To date the best score came form Genome Institute of Science and their ability to solve 8 sets at one go has not been replicated by any other corporate teams yet. Most corporate executives will struggle to provide 2 solutions and the The team from Genome Institute involved Principle Investigators and their heads managed a high score of 8.

Behaviours observed

The individuals that we have observed and worked with are exceptionally smart and compliant. Individualism and Introversion traits stood out and they are individuals who would rarely share dissenting or display any rebellious behaviour. High levels of integrity and potential laden, is what I saw in them. I would describe them as quiet hard working individuals who would not even trumpet their successes. Humble and quietly making sure they will do what needs to done and move on to another task. However there are some individuals who were outspoken.

Recommendation in developing a program

When developing a curriculum for such a team, create a compelling common purpose that will get individuals see the value of collaborating beyond their functional groups. This includes creating functional relationships that will extend within their respective teams and across teams.

Having a clear common purpose
Ensuring it challenges individuals and there is a sense of urgency
Provide opportunities for individuals to bond beyond work
Use of tools such as DISC will provide overviews as to what their behavioral preferences are
Allowing individuals to tap on their strengths and understand their weakness will help individuals to grow and grapple with the challenges they will face at the work place, which is very different from scientific research
Individuals are very accustom to their own style, it will help if they are open to learning adaptive behaviours when working in a group

Overall, participants that we met were exceptionally driven. They did not show any behaviours that I would describe as dysfunctional. What we saw was a group that is latent in potential. It requires both the individuals to acquire skills sets needed in EQ and the organization to provide opportunities to bond through robust coherent team building activities, just like the one we conducted in Singapore for Astar. Do get in touch with us to find out more.

Ebnu Etheris, Ma.(IDT), B.Ed&trn, & D.Hrd

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About the Author: Ebnu Etheris Ma.IDT, B.Hrd

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Ebnu Etheris, holds a Masters degree in Instructional Design and was part of the pioneering team of executives who saw through the start up of Singapore’s first Budget Airline, Valuair. He was responsible for developing the airline’s Crisis planning systems and initiating blended learning in Flight operations. He works as a Partner with Teamworkbound.

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Ebnu Etheris
MA.IDT and B. Ed & Trn
Founder Teamworkbound

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Personal Excellence Magazine Aug 2014

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