How flat pack furniture inspired the world famous creative construction team building programs
Many years ago, the ‘dreaded’ trip to Ikea that we all fear actually turned out to be very positive from a business perspective, and inspired a fresh new direction in the Catalyst portfolio. Surprised by my own pride in assembling flat pack furniture, I wondered if that feeling of achievement could be transferred to a team context with an outcome that had to be more rewarding than a wood chip wardrobe. This moment of clarity lead me to explore the world of creative cardboard constructions.
Our initial cardboard research threw us in at the deep end of the pool. We bought the designs for a flat pack boat from an Australian company, and quickly realised that the material itself was capable of building much more complex shapes. So, a series on ‘team transportation’ was conceived. Inspiration flowed from many sources: My Love of film - Ben Hur the defining Roman movie made in 1959 spawned Flat Out Chariot Challenge; my passion for travel in the Himalayas bought back the Flat Out Rickshaws. All the team building activities developed up to this point had achieved instant notoriety, and sales success. But, the crowning glory to the fleet must surely be the full-sized replica cardboard racing cars of Flat Out F1.
Our clients just love these cars and their big wide wheels! Impressed by Catalyst‘s global footprint, Google's HR team selected Flat Out F1 recently, as a bolt on team building activity in a series of regional leadership training days. They were looking for a consistent exercise that could be delivered locally by trusted supplier with international reach. I’m proud to say that after their first event in April 2014, we’ve now run over 150 Flat Out F1’s for Google offices worldwide.
Since my ‘Ikea moment’ nearly 20 years ago, Catalyst has led the charge in cardboard team building construction exercises. We even have a Flat-Out Collaborative Pyramid build, which remains uncontested to this day.
I really feel that this early innovation exemplifies ‘Catalyst Quality’, and our exacting standards in everything we produce. From beautifully designed team instruction packs, to intricate 3D CAD drawings, we are fanatical about how things look and feel. These designs are not as simple as they first appear, with months of research, and rigorous safety testing going into every vehicle.
The team working benefits of our Flat-Out series are equally well considered. Six to ten separate plans per vehicle present, and highlight, an intelligent project management challenge. To succeed, teams must align roles, but are all individually responsible for their part in the whole project, a link that is highly relevant in today’s working environment: accuracy, open dialogue, and communication.
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