Have you ever been invited on a team building activity and felt that creeping sense of dread? Around 7 years ago I looked at the state and standard of what was being offered and found it to be increasingly predictable and in the worst cases utterly boring. When I was first approached by a client looking to come up with a new spin on it, we decided we would create something exciting, simple team building exercises like none done before.
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. The spark of inspiration had struck, inspired by this boy’s playing I turned to the client and said: “let’s do the world’s largest ukulele ensemble!”. It’s the perfect and a simple 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. The client agreed to the idea immediately so I set to work producing it.
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 and we agreed that we would need a minimum of 850 players working in near harmony for no less than 5 minutes. We already had access to 950 conference attendees and so I thought this was going to be an easy win.
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 was the fact that we needed a Guinness World Records representative present in order to legitimize the attempt.
In their stead, we could also have the event overseen and validated by a local celebrity or politician to at least perform a headcount of the gathering. 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 largest ukulele ensemble, but it wasn’t a Guinness world record. We’re more than happy with the amount of media coverage and local television interest it built for the client, however.
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. Having the attempt validated is not just a matter of pride but in terms of a simple 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.