In ancient China, a boy started kicking around a leather ball stuffed with feathers. He challenged himself to handle it entirely with his feet. He challenged his friends to try and get it away from him. The only rule was that you could only use your feet. This caught on, and later in the fifth century BC, soldiers adopted the game for their fitness training. They formalized some rules, and made it a team training game. They named it“Cuju”, meaning “kick ball with foot.” Years later, when the empire stabilized under the Han Dynasty, more rules were formalized and a playing field with standard goals were made, creating a sport that would later evolve to“football,” or “soccer” in American terms. The team sport that required not only individual fitness and talent, but strategy and teamwork.

Games that require teamwork and strategy, like football, soccer, basketball and baseball, have been favored games across the world. You can use the same basic game concepts to help build your team at the office, with more emphasis on strategy and less emphasis on physical fitness for greater inclusivity.


Functional teams are an asset for a company’s optimal success. Research shows 80 percent of team successes result from effective cooperation and communication, while the remaining 20 percent is attributed to the team’s fundamental skills.

Functional teams are the backbone of every successful organization. Building relationships through interactive games will continue to serve forward-thinking firms in an ever-changing diverse workplace. As technology advances at breakneck speed and global companies are shifting the way they do business, the need for human connection has never been greater.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that 70 percent of American workers are disengaged. The reason why 75 percent of workers leave their firms is not that they hate their jobs; they flee because they lose motivation. When companies take team building seriously — and have a clear understanding of what team building is in terms of what they want to accomplish — they not only can improve staff relationships but also increase engagement and motivate employees to stay on board. The key is to keep activities fun and innovative, whether teams are in training, meetings or involved in corporate social responsibility events.

Keeping team experiences fresh and new will keep employees’ attention. Scientific American shows a connection between happiness and trying new things:

When you seek novelty, several processes are underway. As you engage in every new activity, you are creating new synaptic connections, which continue to build connections, increasing neural activity, as connections keep building—learning is taking place.

Novelty also triggers dopamine, which not only kicks motivation into high gear but stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning. All you need to do is feed the hunger.


Outsource. A quality team building experience belongs to the experts. The first step to finding a successful team building provider is to check their client list and call a reference. Can you find a company in your industry? You can also call the firm and ask to talk to someone who experienced a program that interests you. Employees easily engage when activities are innovative and spark curiosity.

Many of today’s games combine technology and learning with measurable results. Gamification in the workplace has a wide appeal to millennials and continues to gain traction in corporate training. Technology-assisted challenges are disrupting traditional training models and making learning fun. Be aware, however, that some high-tech companies go overboard with tech, failing to realize they are also creating for low-tech staff or employees who can only take tech in low doses. The trend for team-oriented games is leaning toward problem-solving challenges designed to help staff identify problems and improve team performance.

When the experience is enjoyable on a personal level, managers and the teams become more trusting, allowing barriers to fall. They find stepping out of their comfort zones is not really so uncomfortable once you take the first step. They enjoy relating to each other in new ways and find it easy to be more creative. Trust brings the freedom to communicate openly and share ideas without fearing criticism. That’s what makes it fun.


Venture Up‘s Strategic Games and Leadership Challenges are designed to reinforce company values and strategies for success. High energy and fun for all abilities, Venture Up introduces clients’ teams to a series of creative problem-solving obstacles, challenging the intellect and motivating teams to succeed with limited resources and time. Team members are continually engaged in the very factors that comprise a successful team. We aim to bring out the best in each individual team player.

As teams transition through the a program, the bar is raised with each success. Collectively, these activities reinforce team relationships, underscore the power of diversity and the unlimited potential of cooperation at all levels.

Elements are selected and sequenced according to client training or event objectives. Your custom program may be set up in just about any location, inside or outdoors. Since 1983, Venture Up has held thousands of corporate events and is highly experienced in adapting to unknowns that may arise on site.

Teams experience new ways to …

  • view change as a force impacting motivation and involvement
  • evaluate how interpretation affects communication
    • improve communication and trust
    • build collaboration and alignment
  • solve problems creatively
  • have FUN !

“What’s the point of this game?” That question comes up often. Sure, an activity may involve passing a ball around a circle, jumping through hoops or answering trivia questions. It’s not about the game it’s about the people playing it. Many of the clients we work with bear responsibilities too risky to pass over, where the consequences of another person’s mistake can cost someone their job or worse. That’s why Venture Up offers games such as Focus Tubes, as seen in the Houston photo below, show instant consequences with miscommunication, but that consequence is nothing compared to the real world. In this context it’s fun, memorable and transfers to the work experience where consequences of poor communication are real.

Perhaps the greatest merit gaming has is that it’s fun. Gaming satisfies basic human needs to be social and solve problems for survival. When children play hide-and-seek, they learn to protect themselves, take risks and have fun. Board games that force critical thinking engage us in power struggles. Sports requiring physical exertion, reliance on teammates, where mental and physical risks high provide the most impactful experience. At Venture Up, we focus on limited physical exertion, if any, and real life risks and consequences in personal and work environments.

The optimal way to get your teams engaged is to take them out of the office before the project even begins. That’s right. Even if you simply go outdoors on company grounds, or the roof of the parking garage, taking a break from work sets minds free and people naturally engage with one another.

There are many ways to build trusting relationships among staff, using interactive games or investing time together to serve the local community. Motivating team members to trust and rely on each other is easier through experiential learning, and more effective if the activities are fun. In the workplace, when teams mesh and everyone has a clear understanding of the project and strategy, it’s time for managers to step aside and let the team roll. This is also the time to take advice from General Patton, who famously said:

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~ General George Patton

Clear communication from the top gives every work unit a firm foundation to perform. Knowing when to set the team free to work on its own is critical. If communication is poor and teams are off track from the get-go, you just paved the way for a dysfunctional team experience that can have lasting negative effects on the team and your leadership.

Companies who strive for a transparent and collaborative culture create trusting relationships among their staff and are far more likely to produce effective teams. When trust is inherent in the workplace, managing becomes much easier and teamwork flourishes.