Dungeons & Dragons is the Ultimate Team Building Exercise: Let Me Show You Why
So, this is going to sound crazy to most of you, but every single one of you should play Dungeons & Dragons at least once in your life — and especially if you’re in business. While the game itself has been a staple of nerd culture for decades, it’s recent appearances in shows like Stranger Things has seen a surge in people joining in on the fun and setting off on their own fantasy adventures. Although not with out controversy, today’s DnD is not a drug-filled tabletop game for devil worshipers and has become rather mainstream. In fact, Vin Diesel has been a long time advocate of the game for years! While it’s arguably not a game for everyone, I do believe everyone should at least try and play the game once. Although fair warning: Without an experienced Dungeon Master (a.k.a “DM,” or the person who runs/manages the game for the players), it’s rules can be a very steep learning curve. Also, a poor DM can make the session absolutely terrible for all involved. However, for those willing to take on the role, DnD can be one of the best and most rewarding team building exercises imaginable. Here’s why.
It Gives Your Team Different Perspectives
Let’s be honest: roleplaying as “Susan from HR” is a hell of lot less fun than playing as “Susan the Elf.” Taking your team out of their own lives and proxying them for characters subconsciously forces your staff to view things from a different perspective. One of the very strange things that happens in this process when players are presented with decisions, is the first thought they’ll have is “what would I do in this scenario,” before catching themselves to think “what would Susan the Elf do?” There’s also a double-take that happens to where you find yourself being empathetic to another perspective, because well… It’s you. This process also seems to yield some very outside of the box thinking when you have people attacking problems with a different mindset. You simply interact with the game in an entirely different way than you would if you were in a traditional training environment. All of us who have ever undergone training go into a certain mode which somewhat precludes the possibility of failure. That’s not always the most realistic conditions to train under, as the stakes in a real situation have very real consequences. Dungeons and Dragons has the ability to introduce those failures. Which leads us to our next topic:
You Can Build Almost Any Scenario
DnD is a game which has almost no limits other than the basic rules, which are still interpreted by your DM. You can create and adapt almost any scenario you can imagine. While I wouldn’t recommend turning your sexual harassment training (like at all) into a DnD session, you can playfully turn Customer Service issues into an adventure with a little creativity. With almost infinite possibilities, it’ll be up to your team to work together and develop clever solutions to solve problems. If you want to focus on diversity, there’s no shortage of playable races in DnD, each with their own unique additions to the game. Food for thought if you want your team to step out of their own shoes and into another perspective where they can see others unique value props shine!
It’s Character Building, Literally
Some members of your team may feel more comfortable approaching problems more boldly, through a character that’s not them. It’s a safe environment to test theories, develop stronger team cohesiveness through working together, and learning about your team dynamics while having fun at the same time. While DnD’s reputation is tied with introverts, ironically, you learn more about people playing than you would in other more traditional ways. If you play long enough, patterns arise. Over the many campaigns I’ve played with my friends, there are common elements each of us tend to stay true to, no matter what class we’re playing as. Those elements of people will always shine through. There will also be plenty of times things don’t go your team’s way during an adventure. The ability to quickly rebound after something has unraveled builds a mental agility to solve for problems as they arise, and to have the perseverance to see things through, even against the odds. You won’t find that lesson on Powerpoint!
At the end of the day it’s a game. While veterans of the game have a more serious commitment spanning months or years, even casual players can find something to enjoy. Be it a certain hilarious moment someone inadvertently caused, a major victory you made happen through your actions, or simply feeling involved with something bigger than yourself and a part of the team, Dungeons & Dragons has plenty to offer. In DnD, the journey is the adventure, and what you take away is entirely up to you. Plus, for those of you still awaiting your letters from Hogwarts, this is a great way to finally grab your wand and have at it!
Regardless if you decide to take this on at work, or with your friends, I cannot recommend this amazing game enough. For those of you looking to dive in, Wizards of the Coast have made getting into the game easier than ever with DnD Beyond. Accounts and access to game essentials are free and available online through the site. Setting up campaigns and creating characters for people new to the game is a guided process. It’s never been easier to get involved and to start your first session.
Have a question? Play yourself and want to share a story? Leave a comment or find me on social media @thattrevorguy (IG, FB, Twitter) and #DnDatWork