The Surprising Ways Escape Rooms Can Help Your Business
There are so many ways to make the parallel between what a team can experience in an escape room and in business.
If you haven’t done team building events recently, escape rooms are becoming the most fun and relevant way to create some alchemy within a group. It will help you identify different characteristics and define roles, but also improve collaboration between functions by pumping the team spirit juice.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned during my last escape room experience. I hope the angle I’ve chosen will enlighten you beyond the usual clichés.
Team work: Know your position
The first takeaway one can get from escape rooms is the importance of teamwork. What really makes the difference between great collaboration and poor collaboration is the capacity of each team member to know their position.
Imagine you and 7 coworkers are in an escape room. Using clues that could be placed anywhere, you have 45 minutes to find a virus, its antidote and an access key to get out on time.
Now, you might find yourself in one of those two extreme scenarios:
- All members are trying to be the leader: It could be that everyone is telling the others what to do, or that everybody is looking at the same clues.
- No one is taking charge: No communication is happening and each member is trying a different route without sharing information.
Ideally, you want every member to take on a specific role and be good at it. You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, but you still need a few key members to give some direction.
Good communication will be key, but you also need to make sure everyone is taking a role to the best of their abilities:
- An executive could assign roles to other team members, and consolidate information.
- A marketer could be creative if finding new ways to interpret clues
- An IT person might focus on the best usage for the different tools in the room, whether it’s opening locks or decoding clues.
- Sales reps could focus on checking everything including the walls and shout out any number or letter combination for Support to open the locks
Don’t always play by the rules
Most people get stuck into escape rooms the same way they get stuck in business: they play by the rules.
Thinking outside of the box takes a literal sense when you’re part of a group of 8 professionals stuck in a tiny room designed to distract you from the right path:
- Is this a clue, or just a diversion?
- Do you need to find the key to this lock, or is it a trap?
Distraction and disruption are challenges you face every day in business. Focus is something you need to train if you want to get things done. Getting things done is one thing, but prioritizing is another. Being in an escape room forces you to face the importance of making good choices, quickly.
The last time I was in an escape room, we all experienced choice paralysis. There are so many options in front of you, it’s hard to have a logic approach to where to start.
So here’s where the parallel between escape rooms and business becomes interesting and paradoxical: You don’t have to open every single lock in front of you, most of them are lures. Logic and rational are crucial in business, but you’re often presented with too many options. Only the ones that can combine logic, intuition and ingenuity will succeed.
It takes a lot of guts to say no to distraction and focus on a clear defined path instead. Eventually, you will fail, but that approach will take you less time to be where want to be than by being paralyzed by too many choices.
The Obstacle Is The Way
Escape rooms are a great way to accelerate the lessons you get from real life. You will experience first hand that those who fail are those who DO. Doing is the only way to learn. You will fail as a team, but more importantly you will become conscious about what it takes to get back on track and move forward.
You will realize the process isn’t about starting things, it’s about finishing. Finishing games. Finishing blocks. Finishing projects. As Ryan Holiday would say in his book The Obstacle is The Way, “finishing the smallest task you have right in front of you and finishing it well”.
Every lock in an escape rooms represents an obstacle your business might be facing. The secret to success is to see every obstacle as a proof that you are on the right path, and also as an opportunity to practice some virtue: patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity.
“And a rarer breed still has shown that they not only have what it takes, but they thrive and rally at every such challenge. That the challenge makes them better than if they’d never faced the adversity at all.” Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way
“And a rarer breed still has shown that they not only have what it takes, but they thrive and rally at every such challenge. That the challenge makes them better than if they’d never faced the adversity at all.”
Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way
That rarer breed Ryan mentions is the one you want to thrive for. Most groups feel like they have discarded all options within the first 20 minutes of being stuck in that room. The ones that can see beyond their first thought bias and get out of that thinking loop make it out on time. As Cal Newport suggests in Deep Work, you need to dive deeper into your thought process to get out of this loop.
An accelerated version of real life
As Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, said: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”
Escape rooms are a great way to learn about the dynamics of your team and experience what a crisis would look like, without the repercussion of the real world.
If you’re in the Greater Atlanta area, I recommend going to Rush Escape Room for a first thrilling experience!
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