Teambuilding America: A Declaration of Interdependence

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Hozeh Bachground

Hozeh, the Hebrew word for “contract,” brings physical form to a team-building and conflict resolution tool called the Full Value Contract. The Full Value Contract (FVC) is a method through which a group can identify and establish its collective values, goals, and/or vision—a core part of becoming a high-performing team. There are many ways to conduct the exercise, depending on the group. For some groups for whom consensus decision-making would be important, I (as the facilitator) had them identify 3-5 core values and ensured that each person had an opinion on each value before they voted it in or out. Similarly, I had another group start with many values, and then use discussion and voting to narrow to a small, core set. In other groups where trust and energy were more important, I put out a giant pad of paper and gave everyone a different colored marker, with the only stipulation that each person must state to the group what they were about to write before they wrote it. The different colors of marker provided a visual cue to the group about who was contributing more or less to the conversation, encouraging them to decide how they would moderate participation. Before conducting interviews with other facilitators in the fall, however, I was undervaluing the FVC. Identifying values seemed like a fluffy and ambiguous activity. We would generally do it at the beginning of a program and never return to it; teams rarely referenced it during other activities and seemed to derive little



value from it. When teams were able to refer back to it and included it in debriefs throughout a program, it became a lot more meaningful, but I always questioned its long-term impact. My facilitator interviews shed new light on this tool for me: Andrew Mangino, CEO of The Future Company, spoke about a need for buy-in to a core set of national values and aspirations that would be explicitly and prominently upheld in America. Dan Tillemans, a Lead Facilitator for the Cornell Team & Leadership Center (CTLC) and mountaineering guide, also expressed a desire to realign America to its core values as a team. He said that it is important for high-performing teams to identify their behaviors and values and call out when misalignment occurs in order to address it. This cannot happen without a team having a sense of its collective values. Jeff Gambitta, another Lead Facilitator for CTLC, told me that he uses the FVC when respect has been lost in a group: “For me, it’s all about the relationship. Refine the full value contract. What are the conditions for respect, breaking respect, and renewing that bond? But you have to really tailor it, groups are unique.” Matt Cowburn, a former challenge course coordinator and Lead Facilitator for CTLC, reminded me that the FVC needs to be a fluid, dynamic agreement. “They’re identifying values in a short amount of time and aligning [their behavior] to these values. It might need to