I’ve been reading Leaders Eat Last, a book about leadership by the motivational speaker Simon Sinek. His book explores, as the subtitle puts it, "why some teams pull together and others don’t." Sinek quotes a lot of biology and anthropology to support his thesis: when companies prioritize the care of human beings, and put people before numbers, they thrive.
We are biologically wired, Sinek says, to function best as a member of a close and trusting group. Teamwork helped us find food and stave off attacks by saber-toothed tigers back in the days when we were hunters and gatherers. Today, when most of our hunting and gathering is done online, teamwork is just as important in maintaining an organization’s health.
I thought about Sinek when an email about a new program by one of my favorite San Francisco hotels, the iconic Sir Francis Drake, landed in my inbox. Called "Be a Kid Again," the program brings a sense of play and nostalgia to meeting breakout sessions. Covered in butcher paper, tables offer crayons, construction paper, pattern scissors and nostalgic playthings like yo-yo’s, play-doh, Slinkies and Silly Putty. Childhood games are also provided-from Twister and Candy Land to Monopoly. And the snack-break menu includes the kinds of treats you never quite outgrow-mini pb&j crustless sandwiches, fried mac ‘n cheese balls, house-made pudding, Twinkies and rice crispy treats, warm chocolate chip cookies.
People whose day job includes writing code, managing budgets or developing long-term marketing strategies can wind down with some throwback games like Simon Says, telephone and big-group Pictionary.
I think our Paleolithic ancestors would want to join us in this fun, don’t you?