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The Power of the Team: Problem Solving Team Building With a Creative Twist

April 2016

'Up Your Street' Engaging Team Building Activity from KDM Events ‘Up Your Street’ Engaging Team Building Activity from KDM Events

When one industry-leading business acquires another, it takes a strategic approach to align the two corporate cultures.  KDM supported one such culture-change programme in two separate series of events.

About our client
A pan-European distributor of tools and industrial products, our client serves a wide range of manufacturing sectors.  Adjusting to a recent major corporate acquisition, the company had embarked on a significant integration plan, spearheaded by its Head of Training and Development.

The brief
KDM was asked to support 11 separate corporate events over a two month period.  The first five of these would see groups of 50 staff from sales and operations departments brought together in locations as far apart as Glasgow and Windsor – to work on routes to successful collaboration in areas such as cross-selling.

The last six events would form part of an employee engagement programme designed to encourage positive attitudes and behaviours and to foster a culture that would see knowledge, ideas and expertise shared throughout the business.

KDM’s Response
We proposed one of our most popular collaborative team building exercises, The Missing Link, for the first five events.  For this, the groups of 50 were divided into teams which independently completed a section of a construction project.  Each unit completed its own individual component of the build and the grand finale saw all of the units coming together and the teams united in achieving the common goal, producing a boost in team morale while reinforcing our client’s intended message.

For the six-employee engagement events, teams were given the opportunity to script, act in and film an episode of Up Your Street – a hilarious soap mash-up with more than a passing nod to the Mitchell family and the Rovers Return.  Supplied with dialogue and character names, team members bonded over forming the writers, cast, and camera crew to produce their own portion of the TV drama, honing in on their combined time management and creative thinking skills simply by engaging in the team building activity together.  All the teams’ efforts were stitched together and shown on a large screen as the finale of the event.

Outcome
Working to meet a common objective brought teams together in challenges of problem-solving, time management and communication, ensuring that barriers between sales and operational cultures were dissolved as pride in collective achievement was shared.

By sharing ideas and creative thinking by completing a team building activity in an environment of humour, people really connected; team relationships were strengthened and participants had fun while working together. All recognised and experienced the company’s core values, understanding above all the amazing power of The Team.


Whats the Point? KDM Conference News article

December 2015

conference-news

Digital display with many mathematical symbol, 3d

 

This year, measurement and evaluation of an events’ success has been a major
area of focus for our clients. Just how can we set objectives, measure them and
use that information to prove the success of a conference, meeting or activity
event? Conference News asked us the same question – you can read our 1-page
article www.kdmevents.co.uk/confnewsoct15.pdf

 

 


Team-up in the Sunshine – Case Study

December 2015

KDM made it possible for Prologis staff to celebrate the achievement, break down barriers and take important learnings back to the workplace – while making the most of the Summer sun.

prologis

 

 

 

About our client: Prologis is the global leader in industrial real estate, owning and managing approximately 23 million square feet of logistics and distribution space in the UK alone.  Headquartered in Solihull with an additional office in London, Prologis’ dedicated teams provide a range of leasing and property management services, supported by the company’s legal, finance, HR, client relations, and marketing departments. The company has enjoyed stellar success in 2015, having won the prestigious Estates Gazette Property Company of the Year – Industrial and Distribution award for the second year running.

The brief: For Prologis, the summer of 2015 presented the ideal opportunity for staff to take stock of what they’d achieved and to learn a little more about working with people from other parts of the business.  A dedicated team building event would enable employees to get actively involved in fresh learning challenges and form a better understanding of their colleagues that could be taken back to the workplace.

Julie Bunce of Prologis said: “We also knew that the team would relish taking on a challenge that would take us out of the comfort zone”.

KDM’s response

We customised our indoor collaborative team build event, Crystal Maze, to enable half of the activity to take place out-of-doors. We also introduced a professional facilitator, who talked-through the learning points whilst the event was happening and explained how these could be applied in the workplace.  A key part of the bonding process came from switching teams around throughout the event.  This meant that participants got to work with different members of the group – which they thought was a great (and challenging) experience.

In the evening an outdoor barbecue allowed the teams to relax and review the day’s activity – which then continued over traditional pub games, such as darts, air hockey and skittles.  Newly-formed friendships were reinforced as colleagues from different parts of the business celebrated their achievements together.

Client feedback

Julie Bunce of Prologis said: “We’d worked with KDM in the past organising Christmas parties, so we knew how professional they were. This event was a really good demonstration of the value that professional event organisers can offer.  The team worked really hard on the day to move part of the event outside, so we were able to take advantage of some great weather and the professional facilitator was really intuitive – switching teams when needed and making the collaborative learning process fun and entertaining.  KDM proved brilliantly that they know how to run creative events and I’d thoroughly recommend their services to anyone, in fact, we’re already looking forward to the next one.”

CMaze


What Can’t Be Measured Can’t Be Managed

October 2015

Office stand03 Office stand07

Meeting visitors attending this year’s Office show has been a rewarding and informative experience for KDM.  PAs, EAs and administrative executives find the show a useful source of contacts and tools that will enhance their working lives, and the Show provided us with a chance to engage with visitors in a seminar environment, where we discussed how they can assist in measuring the positive impact of the events they organise.

Our opening message was that with a little advance planning, conferences, team building days and other corporate communication activities can be measured and evaluated with the same rigour that is applied to other business initiatives.

It has long been known that there’s a huge need to find a way to effectively measure the success of business events.  And from our perspective, the starting point is to be clear on what really constitutes Event Success.  Our own research has revealed that in many cases people at the sharp end of event management have only a general idea of their events’ objectives.  Or, during the hectic planning process, organisers lose sight of the event’s original purpose – because their focus is directed on the logistical arrangements and delegate communications.

While speaker quality, venue arrangements, and even financial management are critical elements of the event planner’s checklist, they don’t provide the reason to hold an event.  So we encouraged our seminar attendees to identify the leadership team strategy that would have prompted the decision to stage their events in the first place – and to focus on that event’s purpose throughout the planning stage to ensure that its agenda and content would deliver the most effective communication.

Then we introduced the discipline of applying metrics to the planning process.  Having identified the objective of, say, reducing employee turnover, the second key step is to attribute numerical targets to that objective.  A prime parallel exists in the emotive area of dieting.  Nothing much is achieved all the time we are merely saying we’d like to be able to get back into our skinny jeans.  But as soon as we step on the scales, make a note of our starting figure and then set the target of losing so many kilos in so many weeks, we have a plan that enables us to track progress and provide measurable outcomes.

Similarly, in the business world, it’s not possible to say how successful an event was in achieving its objectives without having the same kind of metrics in place.  This, we believe, is where so many event organisers trip up.   Very often it’s after the event that people say – “We need to demonstrate ROI” – but without the benchmark figures against which a post-event comparison can be made, it’s too late to conduct any meaningful measurement.

Using tablets with a customised app, our delegates told us how confident they were in measuring the success of the events they organise. We put this question to them at the start of the seminar and then again at the end.  From an unpromising start, we were delighted to see how enthusiastically they had absorbed the seminar content and how confident they were to put their newly-acquired knowledge into practice.

Delegates confirmed to us that measurement had never entered their event evaluation process.  Naturally, it’s the ‘owner’ of the event – the director or senior leadership team that conceived it in the first place – who would be responsible for evaluating its business performance.  But we know that the concept of ‘before-and-after’ numerical comparison is still largely untried amongst corporate event organisers.  The PAs and EAs who attended our seminar will be in the vanguard of championing and executing this discipline.

For KDM it was really gratifying to welcome such an interested and engaged audience (especially as our seminar session had strong competition from the other theatres!).  It was clear that PAs are not only keen to be proactive and make an assertive contribution in their jobs but also delighted to support their bosses in demonstrating  ROO – the return on objectives for their events.

To be able to demonstrate to the CEO or the Board that the event provided a real return on its objectives, will link the event organiser directly to the overall performance improvement of the business, earning considerable kudos – for the PA and of course their boss – in the process.


KDM Cyclists Take on Pennine Challenge

September 2015

4 numb bums

We are so proud that four members of KDM’s Events Crew – Garry Holford, Toby Jennings, Graeme Seaton and Craig Winsper – have cycled 179 miles over the Pennines to raise funds for Cancer Research.

Their three-day coast-to-coast ride, Hadrian’s Cycleway, took them from Ravenglass in the North West to Tynemouth in the North East, taking in landmarks such as Lanercost Priory, Birdoswald Roman Fort and Haltwistle – the geographical Centre of Britain.

And this from a team that modestly describes itself as The Four Numb Bums: “unfit and unhealthy – with no experience of distance riding”.

Speaking after the ride Garry said: “The first day was blighted by the fact that it rained from the minute we set off to the minute we completed our scheduled 75-mile leg.  Day Two was literally an uphill slog – a 50 mile climb over the Pennines – hard work on the legs. But all in all it was a great success: we sustained no punctures, mechanical mishaps or injuries, and are hugely indebted to our support crew for keeping us fed and cheering us on.”

The guys raised an impressive £3,000 through cash and online donations, and in recognition of their herculean effort, KDM is chipping-in funds to make a grand total of £5,000.

Inspired by their first victory, the Numb Bums are already envisaging their next fundraising challenge!

Four Numb bums sun


Meeting the University Challenge

September 2015

To the casual observer, booking a conference venue must simply be a matter of browsing online or leafing through a directory – and then picking up the phone.  And sometimes it can be that easy.  But quite often it’s a real challenge to match the desired location with a suitable facility that is available at the required time.  Especially when flexibility is not an option.  There are times when even the professionals admit defeat, and the client is left with the uncomfortable prospect of accepting second best or going back to the drawing board to come up with an entirely new plan.

These were the unhappy circumstances that prompted keyword technology provider Grapeshot to contact KDM earlier this year.

Grapeshot is proud of a corporate philosophy that’s based on working hard, loving the work you do and loving the people you are working with.  The company provides an innovative environment where staff are given big problems that they are encouraged to explore and solve.  To further enhance these collaborative working relationships, team-building events are staged throughout the year and the company’s Summer Meeting brings together as many members of its international team as possible.

Reflecting this ideology, Grapeshot’s summer event incorporates a morning meeting and an afternoon of fun.  The company is building an internal reputation for putting on unique summer parties, so the event co-ordinator’s brief was to find a venue that offered both indoor conference facilities for a morning’s team meeting, together with outside space suitable for fun and frolics in the afternoon.

With the company headquartered in Cambridge, the city was the obvious hub for the national and international teams to convene.

At first glance, this seemed a simple enough requirement. Cambridge offers a wealth of colleges all with extensive grounds. However, the chosen date happened to be the last day of term and the universities were still populated by students.  Other event companies drew a blank in pinpointing a suitable venue in the city centre. Beginning to despair, Grapeshot found KDM Events online.

At times like this, a vast venue database compiled over a period of years, coupled with the local knowledge and excellent contacts can make all the difference.  We were confident that we could not only secure an appropriate venue but also devise an afternoon of appropriately-themed activities to delight the Grapeshot team.

Our research identified the prestigious Churchill College, part of the University of Cambridge and one of the most forward-thinking academic institutions in the world. Not only can the College offer comprehensive events and conferencing service within a truly collegiate atmosphere, but it also boasts more than 40 acres of parkland featuring a huge range of on-site sporting and recreational facilities.

So with an end-of-term feeling in the air and a whole campus to play in, how could we resist a School Sports Day theme for Grapeshot’s afternoon fun?  Liaising with College staff and outside suppliers we managed and delivered all elements of the day’s agenda, including arranging and coordinating old fashioned sports day races, a barbecue, liquid refreshments, first aid provision and prizes.  Not surprisingly the whole day had the effect of stimulating and motivating Grapeshot’s 50-strong employees – converting our sports teams from reluctant competitors to triumphant participants.

Grapeshot was delighted with its Summer Meeting from beginning to end. Gael Norris, Grapeshot HR Business Partner based in the company’s London office was tasked with organising the event and said:

“Our experience of working with KDM Events was outstanding. Not only did they find us a suitable venue where other event companies had failed, but the whole process was also simple, seamless and delivered within a very reasonable budget. Lyndsey was so accommodating, friendly, flexible and nothing was too much trouble. She handled changes to the plans like the addition of a BBQ professionally and her communication was exemplary. Despite the Grapeshot team’s apprehension about the Sports Day theme, once they got involved in the games they really enjoyed themselves. We will most certainly be using KDM Events for any requirements we have in the future.

grape


Twenty Four/ Seven Quotes for Event Planners

August 2015

Have you ever been working over a weekend and found yourself needing to price a business event, but frustrated by the fact that sales offices are closed?

This is a problem that arises ever-more frequently as busy event planners take their work home with them.  Getting a fast quote can be a challenge any time – our own turnaround time is less than four hours – but when you need it at the weekend, that’s no help.

And this is why KDM have been working feverishly to devise a tool to give event planners instant online ideas for teambuilding and motivational events – complete with package prices.

We’ve developed what we believe is a ground-breaking solution that allows you to get started on your event-planning process – whenever and wherever it suits you.

Introducing our new Event Search tool, which has been designed to offer a range of options based around your event objectives, using search software that can throw up ideas and compute prices within seconds.

By clicking here, you can input basic details such as numbers, region, format and objective, for either daytime or evening events.  The system will then present several suggestions, showing descriptors, images and video clips of the chosen activity.  It also includes wildcard suggestions to inspire outside-the-box thinking.  Prices are shown against the activity once the number of participants has been specified.

We’ve priced a huge range of popular activities – from collaborative problem solving exercises to creative team-based experiences or themed reward parties – to give you an instant view of what can be achieved with your budget.

And rest-assured – just as with any other quote – our teams will be on hand to refine and adapt solutions to meet more specific event objectives once you have selected your preferred initial concept.


Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

July 2015

At Office 2015 we’ll be running an unusual training session on ‘How to Prove the Success of your Business Events’.  At first glance this could seem a bit unnecessary and already quite obvious.  Surely anyone can tell if their conference, client event or product launch went well?   In fact you might be surprised at how we (and Office) arrived at the conclusion that such a session will be of great value to event organisers.

We recently conducted some research into event evaluation and began by posing the simple question:

What does event success look like to you?

Most of us are likely to say “It was a great conference – lovely venue, great food; the speakers all turned up on time and there was lots of applause throughout the day.”  Another successful event, then.  Or was it?  We discovered that the 88% of us who do conduct post-event surveys, only skim the surface in trying to establish whether our events actually achieved their original purpose.

And the reason for this is that in many cases we have only a general idea of why the event was conceived in the first place.  Or – during the busy planning process we lose sight of that original intention because, for all the right reasons, the up-front imperative of getting the practical arrangements in place commandeers all of our attention.

Our research revealed that  ‘everyone enjoying themselves’ was quoted most often as a business event success  indicator, while getting the logistics, budget and scheduling right scored heavily as well.  These are all very valid and necessary components. But they don’t feed back to the original purpose of the event.

It was impressive that 71% of our research respondents said success meant having their event objectives met against targets.  But when we delved a little deeper to look at what those targets actually were, the answers were often rather vague.  ‘Raise staff morale’ appeared quite frequently, as did ‘Communicating business strategies’ and of course ‘Education’ (training or raising staff knowledge) was high up on the list.

But we discovered that in most instances there were no measures in place to determine just how successfully those objectives had been met.  Very few figures had been gathered to actually quantify the degree to which staff morale had been raised, or the level of understanding that had been reached after the new business strategy had been communicated. So it boiled down to a general consensus that the audience had probably understood most of what they’d been told. Not the most scientific of outcomes – and hardly likely to impress the Finance Director or the CEO!

In fact, setting goals that could be measured and monitored for business performance improvement came way down the pecking order. Only a fifth of our respondents cited the improvement of staff retention or the collection of new business initiatives, and a quarter mentioned helping to achieve sales targets.  And while goals like these could have had numerical targets set against to enable post-event analysis, they usually weren’t.

All of which led us to the conclusion that to make a business event truly successful there’s a need to retain some strategic thinking right the way through the planning and delivery process. To get some form of measurement in place that would help event planners prove the success of their event with hard numbers.

So intrigued were we by this whole issue that KDM approached the Office Show and suggested running a seminar to show event planners just how they can introduce measurement into their events.  Because to be able to demonstrate to the CEO or the Board that the event provided a real return on its objectives, will link the event organiser directly to the overall performance improvement of the business, earning considerable kudos in the process!

We’re delighted to say that the Office Show organisers jumped at our suggestion, and our seminar ‘How to Prove the Success of your Business Events’ takes place at 9.30 on Tuesday 13 October in Office Theatre 2.  We hope you’ll come along and join the discussion about measurement and evaluation, while discovering how you can add some smart thinking into the planning of your next business event.

And don’t forget that this seminar will be CPD-accredited, so you can get a CPD Certificate of Attendance if you come along.  Not only that – we’ll be on stand 9020 throughout the show and will be delighted to meet you in person. So please, save the day and we look forward to seeing you at Office 2015.

office-2015-Banner-600x175_Sarah-Webster

Register to the Show FREE: www.officeshow.co.uk
Look at the seminar timetable: www.officeshow.co.uk/timetable


Who Says Fun Can’t Produce Measurable ROI?

April 2015

KDM Bigger PictureIMG_5787

Now that corporate Britain is setting its sights on growth again, bosses face the challenge of hiring and keeping the best people – the very people whose enthusiasm and ambition will shift company performance into a higher gear.  At the same time there’s a lot of work still to be done to dispel the lingering uncertainties over job security that stalked the corridors during those lean recessionary years.

All of which has brought Motivation back to the top of the HR agenda.  At KDM we’re receiving a lot of enquiries for social-style internal events, on top of the purely business-focused activity that has characterised our order book in recent years. We’re already seeing more requests for team events, engagement activity and incentive experiences, as well as a resurgence in demand for family fun days.

But we’re also hearing that some CEO’s are pretty dismissive about fun-style corporate activities. They are questioning the benefit of purely social events as contribution to corporate performance and dismissing them as an unnecessary luxury because the outcomes, and therefore the return on investment from such events, are difficult to quantify.

To KDM, this viewpoint misses the bigger picture.  Companies that are committed to raising and sustaining levels of motivation amongst their workforce need to apply a strategic approach to their internal events.  It’s absolutely true that a one-off party or anniversary celebration is a blip in the calendar that has the same effect on company-wide motivation as a crash diet has to sustained weight loss. The feel-good factor fades as soon as ‘real life’ returns.

And, as with any other business strategy, the starting point must be a measurable objective. This could very easily be that of reduction in staff turnover. Experts estimate that it costs around twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement, so reducing churn is already a critical goal in all companies.

We’ve been helping some of our clients to devise a calendar of motivational activity – which can include anything from quiz nights to on-site massage sessions.  Using current staff turnover figures as a baseline, it’s easy to monitor churn over a period of a year.  Further metrics can be supplied from annual employee well being surveys, examining such factors as how valued employees feel, to what degree they are proud to be working for their company and to what extent they would recommend their employers to job seekers.  The statistics enable you to progressively measure the effects of a long-term motivational strategy.

So making staff feel appreciated, recognising the important role that all of our families play in our daily lives, and creating an occasion to thank employees and their loved ones for continued support, turns out to be a sound business investment with measurable return, after all.

Brad Davies, Account Director


Self Awareness and Perception Create Realities

February 2015

pa lifeMRD - relationshipsa

 

Not the title of a new mystic self help article (you may be relieved or disappointed to know) but rather an observation of just how different personalities interact in the workplace. How we understand ourselves and those around us really does build or erode successful working relationships … read our full PA Life article here www.kdmevents.co.uk/palifejanfeb2015expert.pdf

Article used with kind permission of PA Life . To read the full Jan/Feb 15 issue see http://www.palife.co.uk/magazine/janfeb2015/PA-Life_JanFeb2015.html.



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