Connecting Big Teams Through Tiny Towns
I love to play basketball. I've been playing for decades and still act like I'm 17 when I step onto the court. (I'm 36 - so you can imagine the problems that causes!)
Nonetheless, it still brings me a tremendous amount of joy. It’s not because I'm overly talented at the game - but because of the camaraderie, relationships & experiences that are forged when you play.
It's about teamwork, strategy, learning, and execution.
I love it.
I recently stumbled across a book titled, Surprises written by Tania Luna & Leann Renninger. They write...
"The more experiences we have with others, the closer our relationships become. Filling our lives with experiences rather than things can even increase our happiness."
This seems like common sense. The reason I love basketball so much is because of the experiences I've had on the court. I'll double down, not just the experiences themselves, but it’s also the teammates and friends I've shared them with.
Okay – I know you aren't interested in my ethereal basketball thoughts.
But, I believe these concepts, of experiences and relationships, are impactful as we think about our organizations, teams, and leadership styles.
Let me explain... When people ask, "What makes 5by5 so special?"
The the answer is simple: The People
Our team at 5by5 strives to be world class. I could tell story after story about why, but I'll save you the memoir.
It isn't because we got lucky in the hiring process, or because we have an awesome wiffleball team. (Though, we do have an incredible wiffleball team.)
It’s because we prioritize and are committed to relationships and experiences.
Each year it looks a little different. And as we've grown in size, we've certainly had to change our approach. Our initial team of five grew to eight… which quickly turned to 15… and, a few years later, 30… and now nearly 40.
It just isn't as easy to close the office and show up at Top Golf with 40 people to let our hair down and have some fun with each other.
So the challenge we were faced with was this: How do we continue to prioritize relationships and experiences as our team grows? Our solution: Tiny Towns
(Yes, you read that right - fully equipped with their own mayors!)
We divided our team up into smaller groups of four to six people, comprised of different cross sections of the organization.
After the groups were formed we had each of them name their town and elect their mayor from within the group. (That in and of itself was an awesome team building exercise!) There weren't any "governing laws" to these towns. The only encouragement we gave was to engage with one another.
The hypothesis was this: What a group of four to six can do is much more intimate and potentially impactful than what we can do together as a team of 40.
Over the months and years, we've seen these tiny towns read books together, share meals together, and serve the community together. They are sharing experiences.
Remember that book – "Surprises"? The more shared experiences we have together the deeper our relationships become and the happier we are.
Tiny Towns have made 5by5 better. They have shared unique experiences, created new relationships, and strengthened bonds. Those are the results we were looking for.
Tiny Towns are now a differentiator for us – they represent a commitment to our culture. I'd like to believe they've brought our team a lot of joy. They certainly have brought me a lot of joy.
Almost as much as basketball.