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BoatWorks Experiential Program

BoatWorks provides individuals with insights into team dynamics and leadership styles as they battle the wind, currents, and their collective curiosities.

The primary focus of the BoatWorks experiential program is enhancing communication and collaboration between individuals from different functions or silos, or between teams that are geographically dispersed. For others, the program is utilized as part of a leadership development initiative where high potential managers are provided with opportunities to lead and observe their own and others' personal styles.

BoatWorks is designed for cross-functional teams, leadership and executive teams, and intact department teams. It's also a great program fit for company and client relationship building.

Key Learnings and Example BoatWorks Group Challenge Program Agenda

KEY focus areas/ 
LEARNING opportunities 

  • Developing and ensuring alignment on goals and objectives
  • Establishing and maintaining role clarity
  • Utilizing candor and “real time meta-communication” to address conflict
  • Communicating across and eliminating silos
  • Powerful debriefing and after-action review practices

“Individuals reported ‘aha’ moments about their personal communication and leadership style. The most powerful conversations centered around behaviors or communications that mirrored those that tend get in the way of performance back in the office.” 

Example agenda

BoatWorks Group Challenge

A BoatWorks Group Challenge is basically an obstacle course. The experience is similar to a Tough Mudder course or Spartan Race except that it takes place on the water and requires all participants to work together rather than compete. Prior to the challenge, participants learn just enough about sailing to understand the basics and safely navigate the course. With this important, but limited knowledge, team building opportunities and individual revelations about effective (and ineffective) communication arise aboard each boat as they complete the challenge.

09:00  Introductions and Kickoff
09:30  Sailing and Safety Orientation
10:00  Sailing Practice
12:00  Lunch and Challenge Briefing
13:00  Group Sailing Challenge
16:00  Debrief and Refreshments

The KICKOFF serves as a review of team goals and program objectives and provides a leadership and teamwork framework to use during the BoatWorks experience, as well as back at the office. GEL use several different models (GRPI HIPOT), and often customizes the briefing and debriefing to match the language of high-performance employee programs used by your company or organization.

The SAILING & SAFETY ORIENTATION outlines roles that participants need to fill to successfully control the sailboat and the leadership behaviors required for successful completion of the challenge. Prior to sailing, each team will assess their members’ attributes and jointly determine a configuration deemed most likely to produce their best performance.

During SAILING PRACTICE (and throughout the entire day), each boat will have a coach aboard who will serve as an instructor to help team members become familiar with the boat, terminology, and controls. The coach primarily serves as a safety officer, consultant, and dynamics observer during the afternoon group sailing challenge.

The GROUP SAILING CHALLENGE is iterative, allowing participants to assess their fleet's performance, set targets, innovate based on data, and make adjustments in leadership, communication, and process to attain better results. The group of boats must start together, navigate a set course, and finish the timed run in a prescribed order. The objective is to complete the course in as little time as possible, and to minimize the delta between the finish of the first and last boats. This exercise challenges teams to control boat speed and positioning throughout the challenge.

The DEBRIEF is devoted to helping teams and individuals process the personal and group-related insights provided by the experience. Performance against the day's objectives is measured and causes and effects are discussed.

View the Photo Gallery and Learn More About Sailing with GEL

GEL recommends pairing a facilitated experience with additional off-site programming to build strong connections between the insights gained during the activity and your company’s objectives and goals. Depending on your desired outcomes, GEL is able to fully customize the program as a multi-day program with psychometric pre-assessments, team issue identification surveys, custom indoor workshop design, and post-off-site activity development. 

BoatWorks can typically accommodate groups of up to 32 participants, but it is location dependent. We partner with sailing companies across the country to provide an exciting, team-building experience.

Bring your team together by spending a day out on the water. Contact GEL today to book your BoatWorks sailing experience.

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