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Collaborative Competition

By on May 9, 2014

It is generally bad business practice to speak poorly of one of your all-time top-selling products, but since our priority is to provide our clients with what they need, not just with what they want, the educator in me is willing to take the risk.

Amazing Races and scavenger hunts can be a lot fun and a welcomed break from a meeting or conference, however there are some fundamental components about them that may be quite contrary to what business leaders hope to get out of a team building event.

Simply put, amazing-races and traditional scavenger hunts do not meet the needs of today’s business world.  If leaders want their teams to be inspired and motivated to do better, reach higher, be more innovative and be more collaborative, then why wouldn’t they expect these to be practiced and re-enforced in a team-building event?   I’m amazed at how many companies settle for ordinary team building experiences when they claim to want to achieve extraordinary results with their teams!

Imagine the following scenario:

A perfectly synchronized cheer from 55 managers explodes as the final puzzle piece is placed on the table and the secret message is revealed.   How did they go from running around Montreal’s underground city as eleven separate teams, to completing a 600-piece puzzle as ONE TEAM in less than 18 minutes?

In early 2013 a major Canadian food chain merged their Quebec and Atlantic Canada sales and marketing departments and were meeting in Montreal for the first time as one team.  The director of business development wanted an engaging, innovative and creative way to help this new team put into practice the theme of their meeting which was “working together as one strategically aligned unit”.

The initial request was for an amazing race style activity that would take the participants outside of the meeting room and allow them to discover the city while engaging in a team-oriented challenge.

After a couple of phone conversations it was decided that the best approach would be to create a “collaborative competition” that combined elements from an amazing race with an our innovative Hi-Tech Rally and “Extraordinary Puzzle Challenge”.

In a typical scavenger hunt or amazing race, teams use maps and clues to find different destinations where they then complete team-oriented missions. The team that completes the circuit in the least amount of time, with the least penalties, wins.

Inevitably, during these activities, teams want to know if they are winning or losing and how the other teams are doing.  Unfortunately, in a low-tech version of the game there is no way of knowing how teams are doing until times, scores and penalties are tallied at the end.

Wouldn’t it be great if teams could have their missions scored instantly so that they know if their strategy is working?  Wouldn’t it be motivating to see how the other teams are doing…. and know just how many extra points you need to win?  Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to collaborate with other teams to gain a mutual advantage?  Isn’t this feedback and the desire to know how their performance is impacting the team what employees are asking for on a daily basis?

It is for these reasons TBMOQ has developed innovative technology-based games that meet these real business needs.

This combination of the effective use of technology and the perfect blend of compelling challenges required participants to live the paradigm shift that the director was trying to encourage. They willingly went from competition to collaboration before they even realized what happened!


Marc Merulla has been developing and delivering advanced experiential adult learning programs throughout Quebec for 15 years. He is a specialist in fusing proven professional development training with entertaining team building activities that ensure interactive learning and great fun for all participants. For information visit or contact

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