Day 23, 734: The Escape Room.

What does it take to make a group of people into a team? That’s a question that is the topic of many books by national coaches and many nationally recognized business leaders. Still, it’s a topic that eludes most of us in day-to-day work at normal sized companies led by not famous executives and business owners.

Today, after at least one reschedule, the management team at my place of work wasbussed off to EsCape May, a local escape room business. I was hesitant as I don’t like the idea of being locked in a room. Turns out we weren’t. The room is always open and people can always leave. Instead, the place had three sets – The Pirate Room, The Billiards Room, and The Library. It’s more like a real-life Clue game than an escapist exercise.

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My team was in The Billiards Room. When you walk in, your concierge gives you the scenario. We were a team of thieves and we had one hour to find the Mrs.’s jewels.  Of course, they were in the safe, but you had to unlock several locks on various boxes in the room to get clues to get you to the safe and its combination. We made it in 49 minutes, 11 minutes under our hour limit, and we were the first team to complete our mission.

It was fun. It was interesting. You don’t get claustrophobic, and you do learn a bit about other people’s unique skill sets. I ended up being the one who solved a Soduku type puzzle with billiard balls while others were much better at the lock combinations and uncovering clues in hidden places.

At the end of the day, the question becomes: “Does it build team spirit?”  The one answer that is certain is that it doesn’t hurt. It becomes a common experience that gives you something to talk about in days and weeks ahead.

Related Post: Not A Game Player

The Mexican lunch afterwards might have been a bigger team builder as we put in clues about ourselves in a bag and people had to guess who was whom. From that exercise I learned that one close coworker is a Civil War fan (Holiday present ideas are now easier) and another one was born a one pound preemie.  One always wanted to be a firefighter and another once flew a jet. One is the middle child of eight siblings. I now know these colleagues a little bit better and if it helps me understand what makes them tick.

I once worked for a fabulous company CEO of Italian heritage, Chuck Alessandrini. He believed that colleagues need to consistently break bread together and made sure we had several dinners and lunch meetings. I think he was on to something. The time spent speaking to each other as human beings and learning about a colleagues personal life makes you feel closer to them, or at least more empathetic to their points of view.

I recommend the Escape Room experience but not necessarily for team building. It’s just a fun thing to do. For team building, and based on this experience, I’m recommending my old boss Chuck’s POV – break bread, share wine, and talk.


Daily Focus on Gun Sanity: There is power in numbers. The Parkland students are a team with some members appearing on TV shows and others taking to the airwaves and streets. The fact that they are more than one allows them to stay in the limelight and provide unique points of view from a shared experience. It is also true of Sandy Hook parents, but few groups emerge with a shared voice from mass shootings. Those that do are more compelling both because they come out of even greater horrific experiences, but also because of their honesty and communal credibility. If you want to make a difference, the best action is likely to join a local group and find a way to join forces and voices with them. Even if you just attend meetings, the extra warm bodies in the room are encouraging to those doing a lot of the hard front line work.