You can learn just as much from failing as you can from succeeding and there’s no finer example of that than the first of our record-breaking team building exercises. Coming together with a team to try something that has never been done before, whether you achieve that specific goal or not is a true bonding experience.
Our first outing was to be at an upcoming conference in Hawaii, we had been over at a luau for the site inspection and watched a young boy playing the ukulele. Inspired by the boy’s playing I turned to the client and said: “why don’t we organize the world’s largest ukulele ensemble”. It’s the perfect team building exercise, not only do you all learn something new together, but you also have to work as one to produce a piece of music at the end of it. I thought that the cherry on the cake would be actually holding a world record for the achievement, something we could all look back on and be proud of. The client agreed to the idea immediately and so we set to work putting it together.
First I needed to know how many ukulele players we needed in order to break the current world record. I spoke with the Guinness World Record team and they informed us that they didn’t even currently have a record for that specific challenge. They were more than happy to let us set the benchmark though. We agreed that we would need a minimum of 850 players working in near harmony for no less than 5 minutes, I figured this would be an easy win knowing full well we had access to 950 conference attendees.
We went out and purchased near 1000 ukuleles for the event and then made sure we had the best ukulele player in Hawaii booked to teach our huge and inexperienced team of attendees. They weren’t going to be tackling Bach or Beethoven, but we were sure they could handle a few simple chords together if guided through. What we hadn’t banked on, however, was the fact that we needed a Guinness World Records representative present in order to legitimize the attempt.
We tried to work around this and in their stead, chose to have the event overseen and validated by a local celebrity or politician who would perform a headcount of the gathering, which was permitted as long as certain regulations were followed. Even the best-laid plans, however, can be easily disrupted and before the count was complete a few of our 950 opened the doors to the auditorium and this meant the count was invalid.
We can still say that we hold the world record for the world’s largest ukulele ensemble, but we missed out on a Guinness World Record. We’re more than happy with the amount of media coverage and local television interest it built for the client, and for the attendees, it was an unforgettable team building exercise.
We learned a valuable lesson in trying to organize this record attempt. We know now how important it is to work directly with a Guinness World Record adjudicator to ensure all the necessary stipulations are followed. Which is a universal lesson when trying something new, it’s important to have at least one person there who knows the ins and outs intimately. Having the attempt validated is not just a matter of pride but in terms of the team building exercise, it just means that the entire team has something to look back on and remember. A shared experience that they can continue to bond over even after the day is done.