Cultivate a thriving team with corporate terrarium classes

In a corporate terrarium class everyone plants more than a memory.

In a corporate terrarium class everyone plants more than a memory.

Nothing improves a team dynamic more than getting the group together outside of the office. Remove any kind of work-related requirement (other than showing up) from the outing and watch morale soar.

Not all team-building events are created equal.

Some managers plan a group painting class or a rock-climbing or ropes course. While options like these achieve the goals of gathering people offsite and making the gathering NOT about work, they create additional hierarchies based on artistic or athletic ability. Although everyone will learn something some will do better than others and there will be proof. Bonding events that require skill can do more harm than good.

A block of seats at the ballpark, complete with food and refreshments, is a popular option and in this setting everyone is a spectator, which requires no special skill. But it falls short on two important points. People will tend to cluster into sub-groups based on who they know best within the group, potentially reinforcing clique-ish behavior instead of inclusion. Nor does the group experience something new together. They will have fun and may even get to know someone else a bit better. But overall, trust and cohesion and functional behavior are not improved in this type of outing. Baseball tickets are better saved for a congratulatory celebration later.

To get your team collaborating with high functioning, high producing behavior, plan an outing where everyone will learn something new, together, and skill is not a factor in success. Schedule a corporate terrarium class and watch your team begin to thrive.

Tiny plants, moss and accent materials combine to make unique miniature landscape scenes - no two alike.

Tiny plants, moss and accent materials combine to make unique miniature landscape scenes - no two alike.

Nature nurtures.

When people work with live plant material it triggers what’s called a Biophilic response. As living beings we are drawn to other life forms because being around plants and animals has a calming effect on us. Plants in particular ground us and center us and promote a sense of harmony with nature and with each other. Working with plants puts people in a good mood and makes them feel free to be playful, spontaneous and open to learning.

Build terrariums and build teams.

When you gather your folks together, outside the office, to learn something new as a group that has no job performance criteria or evaluation associated with it you remove hierarchies based on authority, seniority and the like, putting everyone on a level playing field. No one on the team is the expert at building terrariums – all authority is deflected away from members and onto the teacher. People are free to interact with each other outside of the constructs of the org chart and the behavioral patterns it creates.

In a group terrarium class, everyone is vulnerable together as they learn new facts and handle new materials (or familiar materials in a new way). This fosters supportive and collaborative behavior as people “figure it out” together and explore possibilities side by side.

Watch creativity bloom.

The “deliverable” in this setting is totally risk free. Without fear of consequence the members of your team will push themselves and stretch to experiment and take risks of their own, for themselves.

Once people are free to move outside their comfort zone onto new turf, so to speak, creativity will emerge as they produce the deliverable – in this case a planted terrarium for their home or office.

One of the distinctive aspects, and assets, of the terrarium is its scale. Working with nature in miniature provides a sense of escapism. The terrarium creator must imagine himself in the tiny landscape, inside the glass bubble, away from everything else in order to assemble the plants and accent materials in a pleasing way. The scale promotes a sense of fantasy that really summons creativity in how one organizes and prioritizes and emphasizes the various elements she is given to work with.

Terrariums are tiny ecosystems that can sustain themselves indefinitely with little maintenance.

Terrariums are tiny ecosystems that can sustain themselves indefinitely with little maintenance.

At the end of the class there is time for everyone to see all of the finished terrariums together. It’s a time to appreciate the broad spectrum of outcomes that can develop in spite of using the exact same material and to celebrate the unique styles of the people who conceived them. This translates into a new respect for each member’s capacity to contribute meaningfully back at the conference room table.

Later, when your employees look at their terrarium at home or in their office, they can enjoy its beauty and its calming effect as they watch nature change before their eyes in miniature. But they will also appreciate it as a symbol of their courage, creativity and risk-taking and as an investment you made in them.

Schedule a corporate terrarium class today.

Terry Furuta