I have taken part in many team building activities over the years. They typically involve being plopped into a group of colleagues you don’t work with on a daily basis and participating in endless icebreakers in an attempt to “get to know one another better” and “work as a team”. Last I checked, I left summer camp long ago. Surely we can do better than bonding over “tell the group one interesting thing about yourself per toilet paper square you have been given” or “see if you can all lift this stick together”.

Last month at Navantis we did much better than that and, for the first time in my career, I was able to take part in a team building activity I not only enjoyed, but was proud to be a part of. The difference? It wasn’t all about us.

We are a technical group, we like solving problems, building solutions and seeing an end result. So with that in mind we partnered with two local schools and the first Navantis Build-A-Bike Day was born. Teams of Navantis employees came together to build 25 bikes for at risk youth in our community and we brought the children in to give the bikes away at the end of it all.

  • Solving problems, check – our Director of Network Services (and all around technical guru) made sure to disassemble the bikes enough to make it a challenge for our teams.
  • Building solutions, check – building the bikes brought cooperation to build a perfect end result and our Quality Assurance volunteers made sure everything was up to code.
  • Seeing an end result, big check – the excitement that poured into the room when the children arrived was overwhelming, some of their parents said they had been up all night over sheer excitement.

Andy Papadopoulos, our CEO summed it up best:

When I was a kid I remember the day I got my first bike. That was the day I got my freedom.

Before that day my view of my world was always from the back seat of a station wagon or wherever my parents took me.

With my new bike, I was in the front seat driving. My entire view of world changed.

I could now explore the world and as long as I came home before the street lights came on I could now roam my entire neighborhood. My bike connected to me to my friends and my neighborhood. It helped define my childhood.”

The looks on the faces of the children as they climbed onto their brand new bikes was enough to know how very important this event was. At the end of it all I left feeling humbled, accomplished, and yes even closer to my colleagues. I hope this is the flavor of many events to come. It’s easy to overlook how much giving back can not only transform your community, but also transform your team. And I didn’t, for a second, feel like I was back in summer camp!