The mention of “team building” can conjure up memories of fun and positive activities that had real value for employees – or of cringe-worthy experiences that seemed to drag on for hours. Which one depends a lot on the activities chosen as well as how the trainer or manager presents them.
If you don’t want to waste your time and that of your team members, first, you need to choose an activity that will achieve your aims – then, you need to prepare properly. Here’s a great idea for team building based on opening a coffee shop – and all the tips you need to make it a success.
What do you want to achieve from the team building?
Before you start planning any team building exercise, you need to think carefully about what you want to achieve and why you are doing it. One trap to avoid is just doing an activity for the sake of it. Different types of activities have different purposes and need to be used at appropriate times.
For example, on the first morning of a three-day training session, your objectives are to raise energy levels, to allow people to get to know the other participants (if they don’t all know each other already) and for people to loosen up and get ready to participate.
In this situation, high-energy icebreaker activities are ideal. You need to wake people up and help them lose some of their natural inhibitions. This is not just so people can have a bit of fun – it is essential for setting the mood for the rest of the training.
However, different activities have different objectives and you should be clear about your desired outcomes before you start planning. What do you want to achieve? What do you want the participants to learn? What are the takeaways? What actionable items will you introduce?
As we go through this coffee shop team building plan, bear these things in mind – this training will work much better with your team if you are aware of what you want from it and adapt it to your needs.
The idea behind this activity is simple. Participants are divided into teams of around 4-6 and they have 90 minutes to come up with a business plan to open a new independent coffee shop.
They will need to think of all details, including a name and logo, a marketing plan, financial considerations, target market etc.
Four people (perhaps the trainers or senior managers) play the role of investors. Each has an amount of (imaginary) money to invest and each team has to persuade them to invest the money in their coffee shop.
The team with the most investment money at the end is the winner.
- Time: 90 minutes
- Participants: 20-24 people + trainers/senior management to play the role of investors
- Equipment: Paper (large flip board style is best) for each team, colored marker pens
This game doesn’t need much in the way of equipment – although feel free to supplement it with any extras you think of.
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The coffee shop team building game can help develop teamwork and cooperation, communication skills, creative thinking, delegation skills and so on. It is also a fun activity that will build stronger bonds between team members by having them work together to compete with other teams.
Depending on what you hope to achieve from the activity, it is easy to adapt the focusses to your particular needs.
Note that people participating in this activity don’t necessarily need to have a background in marketing, sales or any other specific area.
It could work well as a cross-team training activity or simply as a fun teamwork activity, and sometimes it can work best when the people aren’t experts in these fields. Again, you can adapt it as required.
Step by step guide
1. Divide into teams
Divide your group into five or six teams of around four or five individuals.
When choosing the teams, you need to consider the objectives of the activity. For example, if you are running this as a cross-team training or team building, obviously you will need to make sure each team has members from different departments with whom they are less familiar.
Make sure each team has one flip board with paper and colored pens plus any other props you plan to give to them.
2. Explain activity
Explain to the teams that they are each going to open a coffee shop. Each member of each team should be given a specific role, including general manager, marketing manager, HR manager, finance manager, product manager etc. – depending on how many people in each group.
If you have smaller groups, each person may have to take on two responsibilities. You can allow the groups to choose the roles or you can assign them yourself, depending on your focus.
You can choose the job titles according to your objectives and what you hope to achieve, but they will need to position relevant to opening a coffee shop.
Tell the teams that they will have 45 minutes to come up with a business plan for opening up their own independent coffee shop. At the end of the 45 minutes, they will have to give a ten-minute presentation to the other groups and the “investors”.
Each member of the team should present their part of the business plan so everybody gets to talk.
The winner will be the group that wins the largest investment.
Each group spends the allotted time coming up with their business plan. Every member of the group is responsible for guiding the discussion in their specialist area, but the whole group should participate in the discussion, giving suggestions and ideas.
Each group should focus on making sure their plan works – but also on how to make their pitch stand out from the rest and win the biggest amount of investment.
4. “Investors” circulate
During the planning phase, the investors should circulate, asking questions and pointing participants in the right direction. They should make sure that groups are working well and thinking along the right lines – they should also make sure they haven’t missed anything obvious from their plans.
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At the end of the allotted time, each group needs to make a joint presentation – it should be a sales pitch to the investors to try to persuade them to invest in their coffee shop. Every person should present the section about their part of the business.
At the end of the presentations, the investors have a chance to ask questions about the business plan.
Depending on how many participants and how many groups you have, you may have to juggle with the amount of time for the preparation phase, the presentation time and the question part. Make sure that each team has the same amount of time and that the activity doesn’t go over the limit.
The “investors” now have five minutes to discuss the presentations. This might be a good moment to let the participants have a five-minute break.
After the “investors” have had time to discuss the presentations and all the participants are back in the room, the investors give their results.
They decide who they are giving money to and explain why – they can invest all their money in one coffee shop or they can give part of their money to different coffee shops as they see fit.
When all the judges have spoken and allocated their investment money, you should calculate which team received the largest investment and is, therefore, the winner.
After the winners have been announced, the trainers should seek feedback on the exercise. Ask participants what they learned, what they thought of the other teams’ ideas, what they would have done differently etc.
Again, think about your focus. For example, if you specifically wanted to have people try to function in other people’s positions, elicit feedback on the insights they gained from the experience and how it might change their actions in the future.
Wrap up with closing comments – depending on what you want participants to take away from the exercise.
Adapt to your business’ needs
One of the great things about this team building exercise is that it is so easy to adapt to your needs. There are so many variables you can tweak to make it relevant to your business or your situation.
If you want to run this as part of a training on marketing, for example, this would make a good practical exercise for trainees to put into use what they learned during the training.
If you intend it primarily as a bonding exercise, you can come up with some extra elements to make it more fun or to force people out of their comfort zones.
It doesn’t necessarily even have to be about coffee. If you prefer, you can give teams free rein to come up with their own ideas like a gym, a nail bar or whatever – this kind of freedom can foster greater creative thinking.
Adaptable, effective – and fun
This kind of activity is very popular because it ticks all the boxes. It encourages teamwork, it improves communication, it fosters cross-department understanding, it requires creativity and planning, it’s highly adaptable – and when done well, it’s both useful and a lot of fun.
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Daily Cupo, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.