Emerson's Escape with the Pearl of the Orient!

February 10, 2015

On February 4, 2015 Playworks have had the honor to conduct a team building for one of the finest manufacturing and technology companies, Emerson Electric, at none other than Philippines’ summer capital, Boracay! Emerson have regularly conducted team buildings but it was the first time they had it with Playworks. 

Emerson was in Boracay before us to have their own conferences. They have been holed up in the same conference room for a couple days and by February 4, it became our mission to set them loose from all that work and give them their well-deserved fun. They were in Boracay after all!

The team building officially started around 2:30 PM, a bit after lunch so that everyone would have the fuel to run around for the activities that was ahead of them. Emerson’s big boss, Dave Moffat, started off with an introduction of our lead facilitator, Geoffrey Nuval. It was evident that he expected nothing less of the service we were about to offer and we were more than pumped to take on the challenge. 

After Dave Moffat’s introduction, our lead facilitator went on to take the stage and introduced the five marshals that will be assisting him: Raymond Villanueva, Nikki Aguila, Inna Ferido, Kath Antonio, and Mavi Javier. The lead facilitator then went on to present the first activity, Hyperlink, which was more of an icebreaker since we knew that not everyone from the Emerson’s team knew each other well enough. It was a perfect starter as there was a pleasantly great diversity in the Emerson team, they hailed from different parts of the world such the USA, Kuwait, Dubai, India, Thailand, and so forth. The facilitator explained that Hyperlink, as the name suggests, will help the group find their connection with each other.

The facilitator officially started the activity by asking a few simple questions that described themselves (i.e. favorite food). The participants wrote down their answers on a piece of paper and once that’s done, the facilitator called out for everyone to go around the room not just to simply find a person with similar answers but to be able to introduce themselves to each other and have a little bit of getting-to-know time. It was definitely a good sight to see everyone coming up to each other, shaking each other’s hands heartily with a warm smile, introducing themselves, having a little chit-chat about what they actually do for Emerson. Not only were we dealing with Emerson’s top management, we also found out that one of them was a popular artist back in India! Everyone casually progressed back to the activity by figuring out the links they have with each person. It did not take a long for Emerson to easily find those connections and form one big circle of human hyperlink.

The facilitator stepped inside the circle and went around to ask a few people to check their link’s validity. At the same time, the marshals distributed colored sashes to each one marking their team colors. Once the facilitator’s done testing the links and everyone has had a few laughs at their not-so-obvious similarities (imagine two grown-up guys giddy at the idea that they both wrote Amitabh Bachchan as their hero), they were instructed to blindfold themselves and an animal was assigned for each color. Emerson was divided into five teams: Red, Blue, Yellow, Pink, and Green and a marshal was assigned for each color to guide them.

A representative from each color was randomly picked out to give a sample of the animal sound that they were going to use to find each other. It was amusing as animal sounds tend to differ in some countries but for the sake of fun and being identifiable, everyone put on their game face for the Blind Barnyard.

The room was filled with blindfolded top management people quacking, cuckooing, and oinking while reaching out (definitely a sight to see!) and holding on to others who made the same sounds as they did.  A few were a bit lost for a while but with each team’s strategy they eventually found their way to the team. 

In not more than 5 minutes, the facilitator saw that each team were complete and called out to take their blindfolds off. Fortunately, no one got lost into another team and they were pleasantly surprised that they were able to form their teams completely while blindfolded. The members took a minute to familiarize with each other and the marshals once again introduced themselves to their team color.

The facilitator instructed them to blindfold themselves one last time as their marshals brought and sat them to an area of the room. For added drama, the lights were turned off too! While the participants found themselves being chained to their chairs, the facilitator went on to walk everyone’s minds into the story that they have been captured and that they finally have that one chance unlock themselves so they can break out of the room and venture out of the hotel to start their true quest. 

The Breakout activity was based on the principle of See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Say No Evil. As you might have guessed, the members were either blind, mute, or deaf. In the dark, everyone was instructed to take off their blindfolds except for the ones assigned to be blind. They were given clue boards and materials to help them break free. With the facilitator’s signal, the lights were brought back on, and the race to break out was on!

The teams were given a landmark where they will find these boats and off they set with their own strategy to find this landmark (i.e. asking locals around). Once they have reached their boats, Blue and Green were first to sail off on the first boat, followed by Red and Yellow on the second, and then by Pink on the third boat. 

During the boat ride, which lasted for about 10 minutes, the teams were told that they are reimagined as pirates who had to solve three riddles before they can set foot on the pirate isle that is Puka Beach. The story goes that if they are true-blooded pirates, they would know by heart the answer to all the riddles and be allowed entry to the isle. The teams wasted no time and brainstormed for the answers during the dash to Puka Beach. Each team was able to solve all the riddles and it wasn’t long before the three boats started speeding up ahead of each other. By that time, you could hear the members shouting onwards to make their boats go faster to the point that all three boats were almost bouncing off the waves. The close race only added more to the thrill and pumped everyone up on their toes ready to jump once they hit the beach.

The boats docked on the shoreline and everyone jumped off and made a dash to a ruin site with their colored flag. They were tasked to find a bottle with a map and a message from their late captain to find his treasure box somewhere on the island and set it free by sailing it out into the ocean. The teams scattered and followed their maps, dug around certain areas of the island, and found their treasure box. They soon ran back to their ruin sites and started creating a raft for the treasure box.

All the teams were engaged in creating their own sturdy raft with only the resources provided. Because they were pirates on a quest in a stranded pirate beach, the limited resources only added more to the challenge of them being resourceful, making the most out of what they only have. They were so focused on this task because not only was the raft required to sail out into the ocean successfully, with the challenge of the waves that might bring it back to the shore, but also for the treasure box not to fall off from it.

First to set their captain’s treasure box free was the Blue team, followed by Yellow, Pink, Green, and Red. Ultimately, everyone knows there is no real treasure nor a captain but you could see in the way they build their rafts, carry it out altogether into the ocean, and cheering on for the waves to bring it farther that it was not about who does it first. It was about the sense of accomplishment, the team work, the effort from everyone that made whatever task possible for them achieve. Their final task was to reach a certain area of the beach and reach the finish line by doing a Caterpillar Walk. Each member had to tie their legs to each other using their sash and create a strategy to walk altogether as fast as they can without anyone stumbling. Consistently, Blue came in first, followed by Yellow, Pink, Green, and Red. 

To finally close the team building, the facilitator gave each team 5 minutes to polish their chants which they had to present in front of everyone. They were told that the presentations would be judged by Dave Moffat and May Suega, and could give them the opportunity to bump their ranks up. 

After a cinematic opening by Blue, a duck chant by Yellow, a Tinikling inspired dance by Pink, a human spelling by Green, and a somewhat threatening chant by Red, the votes were in. Luckily, for Mr. Moffat and Ms. Suega, their people are so creative to the point that it was a hard decision between Pink and Green but eventually Pink takes the cake for their original idea of injecting a short Tinikling dance. The final ranks were announced with the Blue team consistently leading, Pink bumping off Yellow’s second place into third, Green, and finally, Red.

As snacks and refreshments were passed around, closing remarks were addressed by lead facilitator, Geoffrey Nuval, followed by Emerson’s big boss, Dave Moffat. It was definitely a day to remember for both parties as one from Emerson had put it, they had never done such team building and that we have exceeded their expectations that were built for the past team buildings they’ve had. Everyone was exhausted and soaked but despite all that, even the photos below cannot justify all the bright and happy faces that was right upon the fruits of our labor. We couldn’t have been happier knowing that our clients had gotten exactly, and hopefully more than, what they have asked for.  Before we let Emerson sail out into the sunset, group shots were taken to immortalize their Pirate Adventure: Escape with the Orient Pearl experience!