Radical Collaboration: Triathlons Are the New Golf

Golf has always been considered the ultimate business-oriented game, with plenty of opportunity to talk shop on the course and afterwards at the 19th hole. If you’re a Collaborator and want to form a real bond, however, maybe it’s time to think beyond the golf course. There’s a broad palette of options to choose from. One of my colleagues at IDEO believes preparing gourmet meals together (and then eating them, of course) is a great way to strengthen team bonds. Another friend likes to take clients scuba diving, because it build both mutual trust and shared experience.

But some of the fit young designers in the building next door to me may have carved out the ultimate niche in the world of radical collaboration: they do triathlons with their favorite clients. The trend started when one of them discovered a team member at Daimler Chrysler that was also a serious runner. The next thing we knew, Mercedes was sponsoring them both (complete with team t-shirts and other gear) in a triathlon in Germany.

Now the idea has a life of its own, and the number of triathlons seems to be multiplying. So for example, IDEO-ers Neil Grimmer and Chris Waugh compete every year in the Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis—-sponsored by our client, Cargill-—and work on Cargill projects in between. Over a hundred Cargill employees turned out for last year’s event, and the joint effort has built a lot of good will between our firms.

So even if—-like me—-you’re not quite prepared to go scuba diving or run a triathlon with the team, look for new creative options for building camaraderie that go beyond the ordinary.