During the first week of November, while the last remodeling of our new office took place, we escaped Amsterdam for a full week together with the ADC team. We stayed in the middle of a beautiful German forest, which was the perfect location for our second annual Collective Week.
The Collective Week is one of our core activities to improve how we work as a team. The ingredients to do this are personal reflection, team building and immediately implementing what we’ve learned when working together on a project. This year we kicked-off what we aim to make a tradition, to dedicate our Collective Week to a pro bono project. This means our whole team is committed to one project for the greater good, in this case pediatric cardiology.
Teambuilding and Collective Feeling
To create a space for personal reflection, team building and focused collaboration, we deliberately selected a remote location where there is little external distraction. Being surrounded by nature, this gave us the opportunity for hikes to clear our minds or to have deep one-on-one conversations.
Spending a week together like this, with time for openness, serious feedback and, of course, some fun and games, truly supports a way of working together that is build on trust and ownership. We always emphasize the need for a collective feeling in the team, because being able to rely on our colleagues is something that we think is fundamental for our work. Also, after a week as intensive as the Collective Week, even our newest colleagues feel more familiar; as if we’ve been working together for a much longer time.
This year we allowed some additional luxury with our personal cook, Andres Jara. His delicious meals created even more time and comfort, which allowed us to focus on our week together.
Personal and Collective Growth
To properly kick-off the Collective Week, professional trainer and executive corporate coach Joris Nuijten was invited. He provides leadership development programs, executive coaching, training, and consultancy to a wide range of international managers and teaches Leadership at Business Schools. He was invited to challenge us the first two days to go deep and learn about ourselves and about how we interact with others. He guided us with theory, brainstorms and exercises, while the only thing that was required from us was our full participation and a willingness to share.
It did not take long before the whole training room was filled with flip-over papers full of insights. At the end of the first day everyone was exhausted and excited at the same time. By the end of the second day everyone had defined their own personal leadership challenge to improve the way they lead themselves and others. Naturally, the hardest part about personal growth is not necessarily recognizing your challenges but implementing what you’ve learned to overcome them in practice. We’ve, therefore, tried to make this step more manageable by pairing up and setting quantifiable targets to test each other’s improvements over the coming months. In other words: collectively we improve!
Exciting Challenge: Pro Bono Project
This Collective Week we additionally worked on our first pro bono project together because we felt like we wanted to ‘give something back’. Moreover pro bono projects can often offer new challenges. They require creativity and allow for different solutions than a corporate client might expect, forcing you to think outside the box. We’re always up for an interesting new challenge, thus we had to find an organisation with a big data-set and interesting questions.
This year, we worked with Stichting Hartekind. We helped with analyzing and visualizing data from national research on pediatric cardiology together with researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre, Amsterdam University Medical Centre and Erasmus Medical Centre. They had recently gathered a relatively big collection of medical exercise test data but currently lacked the data-skilled manpower to investigate potential interesting data further. For four days, we closely worked together with the whole team on four research questions related to interpreting the data and predicting hospitalisation events in the future. We’ll write more on this topic in another post.
It was my first Collective Week and I must say I’m not disappointed. The team stayed true to their core values: Quality and Value through Trust and Ownership. We did this by driving personal and collective growth as well as delivering useable results to Stichting Hartekind. After a fantastic last night out together in Cologne, we drove back to Amsterdam tired but fulfilled. I’m incredibly satisfied, and maybe a little sad that the week was already over.
I cannot wait for the Collective Week of 2020!