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Our Founder/CEO and former Chief People Officer at Visma-Nmbrs, Mariel Dommering, shares the story behind teambuilding game ‘Airplane’, which started at Visma-Nmbrs

online dynamics game visma Nmbrs

The inspiration…

Great teams are built on trust

The research proves it, and it is pretty clear to anyone who is working in a team that teams that are built on trust, inclusion and feedback are the best performing teams in the world. So it is no wonder that most successful companies are looking for ways to implement and grow these valuable dynamics within their teams.

I worked as Chief People Officer at Nmbrs for five years. There we organised two squad dynamic weeks per year. Two weeks (one in Spring and one in the Fall) where squads worked together in one place, organised a fun activity, shared some food and drinks, and had their squad dynamic session under the guidance of a coach. The whole week contributed to the teams becoming closer, friendlier and more inclusive. But the biggest accelerator for building trust and a safe feedback culture were the coach-guided team dynamic sessions.  

At Nmbrs squads consisted of people from Sweden, The Netherlands and Portugal. For distributed teams we normally organized a session in Sweden/Portugal and one in The Netherlands. This was extremely doable for parents who don’t want to be away from their kids. But what do you do if your team is distributed around the globe and you are already organising a company event that people need to travel for? How can you emulate that experience for teams that cannot meet together in person?

 This is the BIG question that was on my mind when I was inspired to build Airplane: a team dynamics game for remote and hybrid teams. We built Airplane specifically as a powerful intervention to make the first steps (for new teams), or to grow trust and a safe feedback culture (for experienced teams).

About the game

You enter a meet/zoom meeting (use your own tool and invite the coach). The coach tells the story: the pilots have become unwell, so you have to land the plane together. Half of the team goes into the control tower and is given access to the manuals. The other half goes in

to the cockpit and sees the buttons. The game is played in iterations of 5-10 minutes, after which you reflect for 1 minute and then play again. After a few rounds of play there is a break of 20-30 minutes in which you reflect on your behavior, on the behavior of the team and whether you recognize this from daily practice (most likely yes). Then you come back after the break and share your findings with the coach. Depending on the team and the conversation, a few more games are played or the meeting is ended. After two weeks, the team reunites under the guidance of the coach. They reflect over the past two weeks and the game is played again (with more success than last time).

We guarantee frustration, pressure/stress, fun, success and failure, but mainly lots of valuable insights.

The team

Airplane is played with a team that works together on a daily basis. The game can be played in teams of 3-8 people (best game experience is 4-6 people).

The duration

Airplane is played in two sessions and a prep via mail, the sessions are approximately two weeks apart. The prep mail is a short survey to understand the maturity of the team, which phase they are in and to understand the expectations of the team in this coaching game. The first session is 2.5 hours and the second 1.5 hours. It is therefore a short, intensive intervention, aimed at uncovering points for improvement and enhancing communication within a team. 

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