Team Building on the Roof of Africa

From the arid plains of Tanzania Mount Kilimanjaro rises majestically to 5895m. Soaring above the clouds, Kilimanjaro dominates the landscape and has become a huge tourism drawing card for Tanzania. Often referred to as a long hike, don’t be fooled by those that tell you it is a walk in the park. Kilimanjaro extracts a price from all those that attempt to stand upon her glaciated summit. This was my third time to climb Kilimanjaro and as always teamwork was required for success. Being an expedition leader it is my responsibility to keep my team safe and to give them the best possible chance at success, but I am also responsible for team building. Beginning as a group of strangers I must help them bond into a high performance team that is ready to support one another to achieve their collective goal. All teams will form a culture, and it will form unbelievably fast. As a leader I can either sit back, let it happen and hope for the best, or I can guide it towards a vision. Utilizing Summit’s Deliberate Success model  I set out to deliberately build a high performance team. The Deliberate Success model tells us to start with Vision; begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey taught us. Starting day one I shared my vision of high performance with the team. Expectations must be set and defined as no leader can expect their team members to live up to their expectations of they do not know what they are. Open and honest communication and support and trust were the driving values behind my...

Blue Mountain Summit FAM Tour

On July 14 and 15 Summit Team Building and Blue Mountain resorts partnered together to offer a unique FAM tour. For those of you that are not familiar with what a Fam tour is it is a short form term for Familiarization tour. Hotel, meeting, conference and resort properties frequently invite event planners and potential clients for a FAM tour. Essentially this is a showcase or a sales presentation. The idea is to provide the participant with all the information they need to book the facility for a future meeting or event, and to build a relationship which is the first and most important step in the sales process. Together Summit and Blue Mountain designed a FAM that was fun, engaging and educational. 26 participants arrived on the Thursday for a beautiful reception and dinner in the village Conference Centre Atrium. This beautiful space with massive windows and a comfortable patio was set with stunning table décor and the locally inspired meal was tasty and unique. After dinner the group retired to the Silver Creek Room for desert and to be entertained by Scott Kress and his Learning in Thin Air Keynote. This gripping presentation motivated the group for an early morning hike up Blue Mountain the next morning. Setting off at 6:30 am the group hiked the Village Way trail winding through the beautiful forested hills of Blue Mountain to the top of the Niagara Escarpment. A fun and unexpected surprise was to meet over 300 participants of the annual meeting of the fitness group November Project. They welcomed us into their group as we all walked back...

Make the Most of Your Next Meeting

“Meetings get a bad rap, and deservedly so – most are disorganized and distracted. But they can be a critical tool for getting everyone on the same page.” -Justin Rosenstein Studies show that meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the average workday yet, according to most employees, they are responsible for more wasted time than office politics, social media or chatting with co-workers. This is sobering in light of a 1996 whitepaper by MCI called “Meetings in America” which reported there were 13 million business meetings a day in the USA. Today, that is likely a much bigger number. But meetings are also a necessary part of any business. They can help people share information, see the bigger picture and find novel ways to collaborate and problem solve. From a simple team building perspective, meetings can provide people with time together; time to get to know one another and build a shared history. With a bit of planning, your meetings will leave employees with a sense of shared purpose and clarity around how best to tackle the job at hand. In a recent Harvard Business Review article: Run Meetings That Are Fair to Introverts, Women, and Remote Workers, Renee Cullinan discusses the lost opportunities leaders and teams experience when they unconsciously create a meeting environment that is not inclusive to all participants. Introverts are often overlooked and unheard from in a typical noisy and free flowing team meetings. The extroverts, who talk to think, do not provide the time or the opportunity for the introverts, who think to talk, to process, think about and to respond. The...

Feature Program: Reaching New Heights Blue Mountain

Summit Team Building is the official team building partner of Blue Mountain resort. Although we deliver team building program at any location you request, Blue Mountain provides us with some unique features which we can build a team building program around. The Reaching New Heights team building program at Blue Mountain takes place on the Blue Mountain Woodlot Ropes Course. This program is designed to build strong trusting relationships among team members, to promote communication and team problem solving skills, and to provide a fun and inspirational environment for individuals to step outside their comfort zones and accomplish something truly memorable. Summit utilizes the Woodlot Ropes Course which is a challenge course built on telephone poles and presents over 30 unique and challenging obstacles. There is a wide variety of challenges to meet almost anyone’s needs. Starting just feet from the ground and maxing out at close to 40 feet in the air all challenges are designed for the physical abilities of the average adult. Translation: you do not need to be a superstar athlete or in top physical shape to participate. This program is open to almost all physical abilities and presents options of different challenge for those looking for a greater challenge or something on the milder side. We begin this team building program with a few warm up exercises to focus the team on teamwork, communication and building trust. We then put on harnesses and helmets and make our way to the course. The first challenge is a team challenge where the team must set a goal and transport product to customer. In this case the...

South Pole Expedition Announcement

Summit President Scott Kress is always looking for his next adventure. As you may know, Scott has summited Mount Everest, climbed the 7 Summits (the highest point on each continent), skied to the magnetic North Pole, and guided ill and injured Canadian soldiers on various expeditions through the charity True Patriot Love. After climbing Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, for the second time this past January, Scott decided he wanted to see more of Antarctica. Scott and three other adventurers have set a plan in motion to ski to the South Pole and to do it as what is referred to as an unassisted and unsupported expedition style. What this means is the team will have no assistance beyond their own power (no sled dogs, kites, or machines of any kind) and will not access any outside support once the expedition begins. This means all the equipment, food, fuel and supplies the team will need for the entire expedition will be with them from the start. No re-supply part way. You may be thinking this is not that big a deal, but what the team is attempting to do has been done by fewer than 40 people in history. This epic journey begins at the Ronne Ice Shelf on the edge of the frozen Antarctic continent and travels through remote, challenging and unexplored terrain, for almost 1000km to reach the South Pole. This scenic, but committing route skirts the western flank of the massive Foundation Ice Stream and the Transantarctic Mountains, then turns south toward the Pole. The team will use cross-country skis and pull their supplies...

Scott Kress-Where Are You Now?

I was recently interviewed for the Lakehead University Social Sciences & Humanities Newsletter. This is part of their “where are you now” profile of past graduates. Lakehead University gave me the environment to thrive and where I learned to climb. These two elements have directly lead to where I am today as the founder of Summit Team Building. It was at university that I really started to learn about team and leadership and my role, skills and competencies in both. These beginnings would go on to help me form my philosophies around team and leadership performance which build the foundation of all that we do here at Summit Team Building. To read article please click here.  ...

Kickstart Kilimanjaro

This July Summit President Scott Kress will lead a climb of Kilimanjaro. Scott has climbed Kilimanjaro two times previously and is keen to return. This climb is part of the Kickstart program at Medcan. This program is designed to kickstart a lifestyle change for those that need it and to promote fitness, healthy nutrition, and leading an active and healthy life. In Scott’s opinion Kilimanjaro presents the perfect combination of factors for the novice climber; and this is why it is so popular. The Altitude of Kilimanjaro at 5895m (19,341ft) is high enough that it provides exposure to high altitude and the challenges that accompany this, but it is not so high as to be overly difficult or dangerous. There is no technical climbing involved so novice adventures can do it. The route is physically demanding so that when one makes it to the summit there is a real and justifiable sense of accomplishment and easy enough that most people can do it provided they have put in the training beforehand. And lastly beyond the dangers of high altitude sickness there are no real objective hazards on the mountain. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a study in ecology like few other places on earth. One starts in the low African plains and then as you climb higher you go through multiple eco zones essentially travelling from the plains to an arctic glaciated environment. The topography and the flora and fauna as you trek each day is spectacular and ever changing. The keys to success on Kilimanjaro, although there is never any guarantee, are fitness and acclimatization. Most people can acclimatize to...

New Team Development Program – Engineered Strong

Summit Team Building is excited to announce our newest Team Development program; Engineered Strong. Over the years we have heard from many project teams telling us about all the challenges they face regarding communication, decision making, accountability, conflict and more. Well, we listened and have developed a program specifically to help project teams form and to avoid many of the common challenges associated with partners from multiple teams, departments, and companies working together. This team development workshop is specifically designed to get project teams started on the right foot. Most project teams are a diverse assembly of people from various departments and, frequently, different organizations. There is potential strength in this diversity of skills and perspectives if the team can tap into their members’ differences in a constructive way. However, there are great challenges in doing so. Stakeholders may have unclear roles and competing agendas and priorities. Leadership, accountability, meeting processes and communications are often unclear. Constructive differences can spiral into destructive conflicts and decisions can be painful or impossible. It doesn’t have to be this way. Your project may have a small budget or one in the multi-millions. It may have a 3-month or 3-year timeline. However, if you invest in a solid team foundation with “Engineered Strong”, you will see the return when you need it most. How it Works At Summit we are team development specialists and have been helping teams form and perform for almost 20 years. We have engineered this workshop specifically for the complexity of diverse project teams. The overall goal of the workshop is to help your project team develop and agree...

Team Building and Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a very nebulous term and one that many people are confused as to exactly what it means. I do not claim to be a mindfulness expert, but I will share with you my thoughts on the subject as it relates to leadership and team development. In short, mindfulness is about being aware of the world around you. The good, the bad, the pressures, the stressors, the people and the events around you and how you interact and respond to this world. In my mind mindfulness can be equated to conscious competence. In all that we do we can interact in one of four ways; unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Unconscious incompetence is the beginner’s experience. One in which you are so novice you do not know good from bad and right from wrong. As you navigate your way in this new world, and your eye’s and your mind are open you begin to learn and this is when you become consciously incompetent. Conscious incompetence is a world of learning. It is not a place you want to stay for long, but it is an important place and one full of lessons. In this state you become aware of what you know and what you do not know. What you need to learn and who you need to learn it from. You become a sponge and soak in everything around you. As you pass through this state you move into the realm of conscious competence. In conscious competence you are hyper aware of everything around you. Your eye’s, ears, and mind are open. Every...

Spring is here. Get outside and Team Build!

If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up by a winter that has overstayed its welcome, you are probably not alone. It’s highly likely that your co-workers are also feeling a little negative, stressed and unfocused. Maybe what you all need is an attitude – and health – boost provided by Mother Nature and Summit Team Building. And, the science is behind you on this one: There has been a lot of study and talk around the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. A study[i] from the University of Michigan linked enhanced mental health and positivity to ‘group’ nature walks … in other words, spending some active time with others in a pleasing natural setting pays off.  Another study published in Psychological Science[ii] found that interaction with nature gives your brain a break from the over stimulation of everyday work and helps to restore attention levels and focus. It’s like a super break!  And how about recharging the immune system? Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent 6 hours in the woods over 2 days had an increase in virus- and tumour-fighting white blood cells that lasted at least a week[iii]. Fewer sick days? That can’t be bad!  There are clear benefits to using the outdoors to boost teamwork and productivity but not everyone is comfortable organizing an outdoor team event. This is where Summit Team Building and our venue partners can help. We can suggest a lightly active and highly engaging program suited to your needs. And, we’ll find that perfect venue – one that offers inspiring outdoor spaces as well as foul-weather...