What an experience it was... the program was well organized and all of us reached the destined spot ICRISAT on Thursday evening (10 Jul 08). ICRISAT (http://www.icrisat.org/) stands for International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid tropics. Hyderabad being a semi-arid land was chosen by the United Nations to setup headquarters.
Located at Patancheru Village, unruffled by the hustle of the city, this place makes the ideal spot for a company outing. With good food, accommodation and acres of land available for crop cultivation and research, housing the research institute's employees and students, ICRISAT seemed like the perfect place to be with your coworkers and let go of any pseudo-professionalism that we display in our work life. Being a new team, this was the opportunity to get to know other facets of the persons on the team. This was something I was looking forward to for sure.
The weather that evening was pleasant, and the short drive to the destination was a pleasurable one. Once we reached we were directed to our rooms and were asked to assemble at a designated spot for coffee and snacks. The trainer was observing us during this break, and once we were done he got introduced to us and got us onto the icebreaker for the event. The task was to get into the conference room with the legs of all in the group tied-up! Imagine a group of 17 with tied legs trying to enter a room from the exterior of the building... incredible isn’t it? This was fun and we managed it well… Once inside the room our trainer Sree Kumar (Sree) told us the agenda for the 2 days and then got us onto our task-based learning games, each of which at the end had to be reiterated and analyzed for things like ‘what went well’, ‘what did not’, ‘why’, and ‘how could it have been better’. This was done over the 2-days time period we had allotted to us.
The games were each directed to a value that the company wanted us to imbibe and implement in our work and life. The mode of teaching was experiential learning in a simulated environment. So here we get to make the mistakes and learn from them, without the company paying the cost of the loss. The biggest point getting reinforced in each game was teamwork, and learning to cope with a team containing people with varied skill sets, performance levels, and still achieving the goals set for each team, which in turn benefits the company as a whole. Smart strategy, but excellent learning each one was. So after each game we would derive the values of the company from the game. Except for the extremely early morning events, and the record-price I ended up paying for turning in late, it was an exhaustive training, and the points our company wanted to make got drilled in pretty well. Thanks to our trainer Sree…
But events like these seem incomplete without any real eventualities. Such eventualities make the event memorable, and unless they lead to extremely negative situations, they leave a lasting impression in all the attendee’s memories and urge us to reminisce days, months and years later. So what kind of eventualities can occur in such a beautiful, serene and perfect holiday spot? Now let us look at the details of the event… the games allowed us time for breaks where we were given time to explore the place and use the facilities at our leisure time. Some of the things we did as a group were indelible—from cycling around the facility, to gathering in the moonlight outside our flatlets, to photographing the landscape, to organizing two different surprises in advance for a team member’s birthday, to learning the Birdie dance and the Hustle from an instructor in the team, dancing to music from a car stereo at 11 PM at night—there was little that we left undone in two days and it was truly a remarkable experience overall. Amidst this blissful time be fell a few unforgiving moments. While we were all gathered at the poolside, me with my camera, trying to cover to my best effort all the fun and frolic happening, one team member survived what could have been a pretty bad accident. Now this one was scary… imagine me with my camera trying to capture my best shots of all the happenings and all of a sudden someone there in the pool is almost drowning in front of my eyes! He was promptly rescued by the poolside guy using a long stick with a lasso…a very narrow escape. No sooner than I had recovered from this shock, after we went back to our rooms, that I managed to crush my finger of the right hand behind a door, and had it bleeding and hurting till the next day. The pain was excruciating and the cut was a nasty one… Imagine my skin split up with the impact of the door on it… quite a bewildering experience it was. My finger later became a topic of jest due to its real world significance, what with blokes coming up with comic analogies and illustrations of the ordeal. On being asked about what happened to me, I would point my ‘right-hand’ ‘middle finger’ at folks to showcase my affliction… funny isn’t it? Thankfully I was fortunate to have someone dress up the wound frequently enough.