Helping a leadership team gel


Newly formed senior executive leadership team for group crossing various functions. How those functions fit together was not entirely clear to leadership team members.

The group head was frustrated that the members of the team were not communicating regularly. Wanted team to trust each other, see each others as resources, and to start collaborating on a regular basis.

The group head also realized that leadership team understood their group’s expertise in depth, but not their industry of insurance. Because group head wanted the team to have better understanding of their industry, we brought underwriting mechanics into the workshops’s design.


Started by conducting an intense analysis of the leadership team, their relationships and personalities while further clarifying the group head’s goals. My recommendation was to put team in a situation that was new to all of them, after warming them with something personal. The group head was enthusiastic about this idea and wanted to pull in an exercise he had done with his son: building bridges out of spaghetti to break as part of a friendly competition.

Agenda for day

  • Icebreaker where everyone shared a story of their favorite leader, and something surprising about themselves.
  • Guest speaker from local city to talk about entrepreneurship and leadership techniques
  • Leader split up into team to create bridges out of spaghetti and hot glue, separate team selected to underwrite those bridges (best practices shared in information packet)
  • Discussion about next generation of leaders
  • Team bonding experience at baseball game

Since the goal was team bonding through friendly competition, most of the team members were assigned project teams with individuals they didn’t know well but needed to become closer to and all members were given information packets full of tips, tricks, and engineering information for building spaghetti bridges. The other team members were assigned to underwrite the bridges. Since those “underwriters” had varying levels of expertise, they were also provided with background formulas and worksheets to help them understand the process more. The “underwriters” were instructed to ask the project teams questions about their bridges and take notes, like is done in underwriting.

Winners were chosen at the end for a few factors: style, underwriting price, and weight tolerance. The group leader used science weights to determine the weight tolerance of each of the bridges.


Team members were much more open than they had been previously. Many of them felt taken aback by an engineering exercise at an insurance company. So our goal of putting everyone into a new situation together to foster bonding was effective.

Healthy team rivalry ensued during the day.

Team now works much more closely than they had previously. Many of the team tension issues are now resolved.

Sample pages from the information packets

Happy team participants