Shared experiences are important for many reasons.

Most apparent is the value of just being with people in the moment: having conversations, hearing the jokes, staying up-to-date on each other’s lives, and so on. Whether in person or virtual, planned or spontaneous, social or professional, synchronous time spent with others helps us get to know people better.

But there’s a subtler reason why shared experiences are invaluable: they become shared memories. The value of shared experiences lasts well beyond the moments in which they happen. We use memories as reference points all the time. They are like our own personal database connecting various people and events in our lives. For example:

  • An inside joke with friends that you refer back to (and still find funny years later) served to reinforce old friendships.

  • A reminder to ourselves to slow down when walking across an icy intersection, so you don’t fall in the same spot the last time it snowed.

Shared experiences are also incredibly powerful for strengthening team culture at work. The collective reference points serve as lessons learned, and teams can remember back to past successes and failures to make better decisions. For example, one really disastrous meeting might lead to a total overhaul of how team meetings are structured. For everyone who was there, that one terrible meeting will be referred to over and over as an incentive to change and a reminder of why the process changed.

Shared experiences also give us shortcuts for future communication. For example, imagine a sales team is pitching a new client, Acme Investment Inc., and decides to switch up their usual strategy and try something totally new. They may then refer to the Acme Incident as a shorthand for trying a new strategy or making a bold decision.

At Barometer XP, we believe games are a great way to create meaningful shared experiences and reference points.

  • Because games are fun, they create moments of shared joy and laughter, which lead to inside jokes.

  • Because games involve skill and problem solving, you get to see how different people approach challenges and identify ways to draw on those strengths and capabilities back in the word context.

  • Because games are played by multiple people at the same time, everyone sees the same events and can point to examples of individual behavior or collective actions as pointers for what to do (or not to do) in higher-stakes work situations.

You know how homemade chili tastes better the second day, after the ingredients have had a chance to blend together and strengthen?

The same thing happens with great teams.

The most important ingredient in any team’s success is the people who work there, so taking care of their people should be among every company's top priorities.

That means embracing all of the qualities that make us unique: our capacity for creativity, our experience of a wide range of emotions, our diverse approaches to problem-solving and communicating, and our desire to help one another.

If you can harness these qualities toward a common goal, the final results will be delicious.

You know the cliché that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

This is absolutely true for successful teams. Sure, each member of a team brings their own lifetime’s worth of experience, skills, and perspectives, and these diverse backgrounds often complement each other and enable the team to accomplish shared goals. But there’s another dimension that propels great teams to even greater heights: the relationships between team members. 

The interactions and inter-dependencies that come from working together are the source of true innovation; team members help each other to see a problem in a new light, or develop new solutions from a diverse set of ideas. 

Rather than viewing team members like different machines on an assembly line, each with its own distinct function, leaders should encourage their team members to interact and collaborate as much as possible, and facilitate the interdependence by creating a culture of open communication and trust.