Giving a Moment’s Thought to a Team’s Shared Goal

As part of our Wilderness Skills instruction, participants learn to create shelters. Recently, a group built a variety of structures. Their efforts and results varied greatly. I learned that a shared goal has a large impact on a group’s final results. Let us give this wilderness skills instruction a moment’s thought.  

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to facilitate a learning cohort through some wilderness skills instruction, including construction of temporary shelters. The group typically only see each other over virtual platforms. Animated at finally being able to see each other in person, they jumped into the task with excitement and created several shelters. Some of which, I could have supplied with a sleeping bag and comfortably spent the night. Others, however, the builders could barely curl up inside in a fetal position.  

The spectrum of purposefulness in the shelters started me thinking. Everyone in the group was given the same instruction, the same supplies and the same timeframe to complete the task, with wildly different results. What could be the cause? 

If the abilities, supplies and all other parameters were the same, then the differences in results may come from a difference in goals. One set of builders started with a clear goal of creating something that could keep them warm in the wind. They succeeded. Another set focused on creating a fort that could hold multiple people. They succeeded. Yet another set focused on having fun with their friends. While their shelter consisted of a tarp loosely draped over stump, they succeeded with their goal. 

Constructing shelters requires teamwork. This learning cohort clearly showed the importance a shared goal has over a final result. I, as the person who delegated the task to the team, needed to set aside my surprise at some of the results which did not match my vision of what a shelter should look like, because I had not clearly defined a team goal. I supplied them with tools, background information, and a task framework, yet left the focus and goal up to each set of builders. 

When working with teams, a shared goal has a large impact on the final results.