A Modest Proposal to Shrink Team Building Budgets

How to Shrink Your Team Building Budget: A Modest Proposal ….with Apologies to Jonathan Swift


Google recently released a playable version of Pac Man on it’s home page.


(c) Google


It’s no longer on the home page but, if you want to keep playing it, you can find it here:

This game (yes I played it) and all the discussion around it fired off so many brainwaves that my last blog entry was getting to be WAY too long.

  • Team Building: Do See the Difference

So, I decided to spin part of it off and continue here.

How you can Reduce your “Team Building” Budget to Zero?

With some of the trends we’ve seen in recent years, don’t be surprised if some companies use the free flash version of Pac Man to reduce their “team building” budget to 0. Now that’s a cost saving measure.


Yes, you can eliminate all costs and significantly reduce downtime. People don’t even have to leave their desks. There is no need to spend money on lunch, snacks or even prizes.


Instructions for The Height of Frivolity: A new no-cost “Team Building?” Approach

  • Select your game (Suggestion: Pac Man)
  • Organize your company into teams.
  • Have runners to record scores.
  • Set a time for everyone to return to work stations for the start of the game.
  • Play for an hour.

Prize: The winning team gets to play a free on-line game of their choosing for an hour on company time.

Remember, you heard it here first. What’s next? How about:

  • Space Invaders (Free Version)?
  • Jackpot Party (Free Version)?
  • Farmville on Facebook – compete in teams of 3 to see who does the best job of managing a farm

Keep hitting refresh and you can play for Jackpot Party for free for hours.


Stop the press! I just won 5000 free credits on Jackpot Party….for real. I finally get to play on all 9 lines for free….. forever. I’m guaranteed to get a “party” before too long.


Pick a different free on-line game every year and you need never spend another dime on “team building”. (If you find free on-line versions of the slot game with the pigs playing in the mud or the one with rockets that launch causing the moon to spin, please post the links in “Comments”. They would be a perfect fit for this article.)

In case this is your first time reading this blog, you may not catch on to the fact that I am not serious. I’m being humorous to make a point about some of the absurd practices that have been going on in the team building industry (see below).

If you’re looking for real help in getting the most out of your team building budget, please see some of our other entries:

I guarantee you, though, some company somewhere will read this, think it’s a great idea and use it. In a dumbed down, “everything is team building world”, why not? At least it doesn’t cost anything. It’s no more absurd than some of the other activities for which companies are paying that are currently being passed off as team building.


From the Frivolous to the Ridiculous

I once had an employee from an inflatables company try to convince me that bouncing in a jumping castle was team building. I kid you not.

Despite the fact that the economy has been in a tailspin for almost 2 years, companies are still marketing this type of activity as “team building” and apparently, companies are still spending money on it:

Recently, a female CEO from a transportation company rejected all of our suggestions as “too business related”. However, she was absolutely turned by a proposal from an entertainment company to offer gladiator jousting:



and also:

  • set up a boxing ring
  • dress employees in padded outfits
  • give them giant boxing gloves


After that, employess would have a chance to beat the _____ out of each other. She asked us to propose something similar. I politely thanked her for the opportunity, wished her well and declined the opportunity.

In case you think I’m making this up, take a peek:



Am I missing something? Other than laughing my head off when I first saw those videos, I just don’t get it. How could this be team building? I think of these approaches as fake team building or pseudo team building. Apparently, so does Alexander Kjerulf:

I thought this partwas particularly relevant to this discussion:

I need your team to work together better.

So please go kick the _______ out of each other in this intense, highly competitive team building activity!

What do you think? BTW, do you think my modest proposal to shrink team building budgets has merit? Perhaps I have just helped the video game companies discover a new source of promotion or revenue.

In case you’ve forgotten you English Literature 101 classes, here is where you can download A Modest Proposal by Johnathan Swift.

4 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal to Shrink Team Building Budgets

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