Let’s talk Communication

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Now we all know that the key to any successful organisation is good communication, which is why more and more of our clients are coming to us with their main objective being to develop clear and concise communication. Our clients find that when their sense of sight is taken away and they’re set a task, suddenly they have to dramatically improve their levels of communication and empathy. This is especially true when they are set challenges where there is one sighted instructor who has to lead the team as they are made very aware of the fact that they will only achieve their goals if they give instructions from the blindfolded teammates perspectives.

In an event this month with Telefonica (O2), the objectives for the day were simple, ‘Communication, communication, communication!’. Mark Floate, Radio Operations Group Manager for Telefonica UK said

“the event itself, over three hours, was one of the best events that enabled clear objectives that I have ever been involved in. The experience that was created on being totally alone at the start and to move forward in that short period of gaining confidence was clear precise and demonstrated throughout of how you get from isolation to team confidence…All of my team have indicated to me that this was also the best event they have completed too”

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Georgie Bullen shortlisted for Red Magazine’s Smart Women of the Year Award

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We are so pleased to announce that our Director, Georgie Bullen (picture bottom right), has been shortlisted for the Red Magazine’s Smart Women of the Year Award!

‘The Smart Woman Award, in association with Clinique, celebrates an inspiring icon who stands out from any of the award categories. Whether it’s art, politics, fashion, business, charity or more, the award recognises a trailblazer making a difference in the world.’

If you would like to show your support, you can vote for Georgie here

Thank you!

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with Atos and BBC

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On Thursday 21st May, Team Insight was invited to Atos and BBC’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day event at the Atos London head office.

Celebrating it’s third year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an international event which aims to get people thinking and learning about digital accessibility alongside the various disabilities that users struggle with.

Atos and BBC brought together representatives from many different organisations, including Microsoft, AbilityNet and Sony. Each had the opportunity to showcase different technology they have created in order to make the world a more accessible place.

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Team Insight was invited to be part of the day as an effort to give people a greater understanding of one of the disabilities that make creating accessible technology so important, visual impairment.

As with all of our events, we wanted to give everyone a small taster of what it’s like to be blind, so we created a small obstacle course which participants attempted in pairs; one person in the pair wore a blindfold and the other gave instructions. The aim of the activity was for the sighted participant to instruct their blindfolded partner to find a small object at the end of the course in the fastest time possible and each obstacle they touched resulted in a one second penalty. The fastest time achieved by a pair when combining their times in each role was 1.03 minutes. It was very interesting to see how different people approached the activity; some decided on tactics beforehand, discussing what size steps to take, while others just chose to go for it and see what happens. Generally the consensus was that it was a lot tougher than it appeared, with many struggling with balance, spatial awareness and clear communication.

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In addition to the activity, we encouraged everyone to try on our simulation spectacles which give the effect of having different visual impairments, so the participants could gain an understanding of different levels of sight loss.

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Everyone embraced the activity and were amazed by the sensation of having their sense of sight taken away by both the blindfolds and the simulation spectacles.

Neil Milliken, Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion for Atos said “We really valued the extra dimension that Team Insight added to our Global Accessibility Awareness Day event. Giving people the opportunity to get hands on experience is very valuable and we had feedback from participants that confirmed this”

If you’d like to join in on weekly discussions on accessibility, you can visit axschat.com or follow them on twitter @AXSChat

O2 Connects with Team Insight

On the 27th March Team Insight delivered a teambuilding and visual impairment awareness training event at the Desborough Leisure Centre for the Learning and Development team of O2.

The team of 40 were split into two, a morning session and an afternoon session. Our objectives for the day were to create concise communication, develop trust and build their visual impairment awareness in a unique and exciting way. Initially we knew we would be pushing the participants far from their comfort zones, but ultimately we anticipated they would also have fun and gain confidence.

When the delegates first put the blindfolds on, many felt uncomfortable, isolated and disorientated, so the first activity was a welcome distraction. We began with ‘alphabodies’ where each team had one sighted instructor who had to direct their team into whichever letter was called out. The groups were surprised when doing the activity at how difficult it was to give non-visual instructions and how much they had to concentrate on giving concise communication. It was entertaining for everyone involved when an instructor would get so far and then realise they’d forgotten what a ‘B’ looked like and what got even more laughs was the ‘interpretations’ of letters, we ended up with a lot of lightning strikes that were meant to be ‘z’s’.

We moved onto relay races; in less than one hour, the groups went from feeling afraid and daunted by simply putting on the shades, to running unassisted in an 18 metre long blindfolded relay race! The race really strengthened the sense of trust amongst the groups as well as bringing out everyone’s competitive edge.

The transformation that occurred through the build-up activities was incredible, not only in the level of communication and trust in the groups, but the level of understanding of how it feels to be visually impaired had dramatically changed.

After a short break, where everyone had had a chance to try our visual impairment simulation spectacles and talk to the Team Insight staff about our Paralympic experiences and different visual impairments, we moved onto the Goalball experience.

Everyone was instructed on the rules of the game, how to defend, shoot and pass. They quickly dived on into a round-robin tournament. The competition brought everyone together either playing as a team or in watching and cheering on their co-workers. The competitive nature of the delegates was obvious to all and especially entertaining in some of the highly creative manner of goal celebrations.

We surprised the groups by finishing the sessions with an opportunity for each of them to do a penalty shootout against Georgie. Those who scored their penalty won a ‘I Beat a Paralympian’ Team Insight teddy bear, but they soon found out that Georgie wouldn’t go down without a fight as in each group of 20 delegates, only 3 were successful. Those that scored were greeted with the explosive cheer and congratulations of their co-workers.

The Learning and Development team of O2 were fantastic representatives of the organisation as all of the delegates embraced every challenge.

Paul Morgan, the Head of Learning and Development for O2, said afterwards: “I have organised many team events, but this one is so unique that you and your team will never forget it! Georgie and her team take you completely out of your comfort zone and you will see many different reactions, from ones of fear and discomfort at the start of the exercises, to by the end everyone really gets into the event and have forgotten everything they felt at the start. How can you not be inspired by Paralympians and supporting the awareness of visual impairment, as two-thirds of visually impaired people are still out of work. My team have been inspired by the activity, by the sport and ultimately by Georgie.”

Highflyingdivas Forum

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On the 24th February, I was lucky enough to be invited along to speak at the ‘Highflyingdivas’ event, which is an all-female networking group. It was a brilliant night, and the best structured networking event that I’ve ever been to.

It began with introductions and led on to my talk on ‘Changing perceptions’. My topic was about the difficulties that visually impaired people face in trying to seek employment and how I launched Team Insight in the hope that we can help educate employers in VI awareness, so they feel more confident in offering positions to blind people. The talk seemed to evoke a lot of interest, with many feeding back that it made them realise how disability is often a last priority in ‘diversity and inclusion’. After the Q&A session, we split up into smaller groups so that each member had the opportunity to share, and potentially solve, any issues they’ve been having in their professional lives. It was a fantastic way of everyone getting to know one another and created a very supportive atosphere.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, it was superbly run and I would highly recommend joining their LinkedIn group and attending some events!

To find out more visit the Highflyingdivas website

 

GB Women’s Goalball Team, Fundraising our way to Rio!

Alongside running Team Insight, which has been going crazy with bookings for the summer, as part of the GB Women’s Goalball team, I have been training towards-and fundraising for-our biggest tournament of the year, the Rio Paralympic Qualifiers.

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The Paralympic Qualifiers take place in South Korea this May and are a fantastic opportunity for us to earn a place in Rio 2016 as there are four spots up for grabs. We found out at the end of last year that we had earned the chance to compete at the tournament and since then, we’ve been training as hard and as often as we can.

Although this is a fantastic opportunity, we have had to face the challenge of raising the £35,000 needed in order to prepare and compete as we had all public funding from UK Sport withdrawn last year.

Although our target has had to be reassessed as we could not afford to attend one of our preparation tournaments, I’m very happy to say that now it’s looking very likely that we will reach the qualifiers!

The effort that the entire team has put in to raise the funds, whilst also balancing training and work, has made us feel even more united and determined going into the qualifiers.

If you’d like to read more about our fundraising efforts, or if you’d like to donate please visit our JustGiving page

 

Making a Splash into the events industry!

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We have made a huge Splash into the events industry over the last few months, being featured in numerous magazines and newspapers! Our unique methods of bringing teams together is really turning some heads…

Check out the recent profile that Business Matters Magazine wrote about our Director Georgie Bullen.

Also take a look at what M and IT Magazine and C&IT magazine had to say about our innovative methods of team building.

We’ve been getting some great media coverage and are very appreciative of The Guardian, Business Matters Magazine, M and IT Magazine, C&IT magazine and the Cambridge News, who have all taken such an interest in our journey!

Let’s continue to rock the boat!

Testimonials: Don’t just take our word for it…

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We obviously think our team building/visual impairment awareness training events are fantastic, but don’t just take our word for it, have a look at some of the feedback we’ve received…

Emma-RNIB “I have attended many VI awareness sessions so my awareness is quite high, however this was most definitely the most fun and had the best physical reaction”

Michael-Cambridge News “the trust you have developed with the people you’re playing with-is quite astonishing, and having the shades on starts to be less of an issue as you concentrate on stopping the ball” “having watched Bullen in action at the Paralympics and interviewed her in the past, I already knew about her infectious enthusiasm and the passion she has for her sport, and that came across loud and clear”

The Guardian “Bullen is determined to improve life for VI and blind people in this country, two-thirds of whom are not in paid employment. Last month she launched her own business-Team Insight-to deliver team bonding experiences using Goalball, while raising awareness around visually impaired employees. “People don’t understand VI, they think you’re either completely blind or fully sighted”

Marion-Deloitte “made me aware of impaired vision as well as highlighting how important team work and communication are”

Tracy-The Prince’s Trust “What impressed me the most about the Team Insight event was that, through the blindfolded activities, we experienced a sense of accomplishment in working as a group to complete a challenging task, and learning ways to improve communication skills”

Susanne C “I particularly enjoyed the interaction amongst the participants. Great opportunity to identify own & others strengths in communication and leadership. Great way to raise awareness and understanding of visual impairment”

Matt –Ziconix “I found the exercises before the Goalball games reiterated to me the need for assertive, clear and simple instruction….playing Goalball was the highlight for me”

Ashley R “The initial activity of being guided in the shades was very unsettling and challenging-big contrast to how I felt at the end of the session, great experience!”

Tony G “The build-up tasks were great, worked well as ice breakers without being cheesey”

Louise J “enjoyed making shapes as it focused our minds on giving and receiving specific and quick instructions whilst raising awareness of being more conscious of what others need”

Marc-Judo Paralympian “made us focus on how best to work as a team, the friendly competition really brought everyone together…it was great having the feedback of the stopwatch to show how much we were improving with each activity”

 

 

Well we’ve finally launched!

After months of work and planning, we kicked things off with a fantastic launch event attended by representatives from organisations such as Deloitte, Johnson Matthey, the Prince’s Trust, Ziconix, the RNIB and the University of Cambridge. Everyone fed back how much they enjoyed it and how valuable they found the training to be.

Breaking down barriers

From the first activity to the last , we worked on breaking down barriers, we took everyone out of their comfort zones and got them to work together. This picture shows how after moments of everyone arriving we had them blindfolded, disorientated and nervous. We analysed this feeling of unease and got the participants to figure out what would make them feel more comfortable (i.e. Communication, reassurance, encouragement, etc). It then became our objective of the day to improve those areas outlined.


 

Blindfolded team mates

One of the activities we challenged our participants with really tested their communication. We split everyone into groups and nominated one instructor in each whose job it was to get their blindfolded team mates to form certain shapes. Sounds simple enough, but it surprised many to realise the difference between how clear they thought their communication to be and how clear it actually was. It really got the participants to think about how precise their instructions need to be, especially when it comes to dealing with visually impaired people.


 

Developing trust

When we wanted to develop Trust we didn’t want to do the same old task of falling backwards into each other’s arms, instead we pushed our participants to challenge themselves to race blind folded. It was amazing to see the trust between the participants grow as they encouraged each other to run quicker and quicker. In a short time the group went from feeling scared and disorientated when sitting wearing the shades to feeling confident enough to sprint into the unknown. You can tell from the smile here how well this activity went down.


 

Determined to score

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We finished off the day by getting the teams of participants to play a round robin tournament of Goalball. Everyone loved playing as it brought all the skills from the day together in an exciting way. It got pretty competitive with each player determined to score. It was fed back by one of the participants that although it was hard work, he actually found it really relaxing as he was able to forget everything else going on in his head as he had to focus and concentrate all his energy on listening for the ball. There were some participants who said when they arrived that they were almost certain they wouldn’t want to join in and play Goalball, but when it came round to it, they were itching to play and they couldn’t believe how much they loved it.


So overall the launch event was a great success, we took a group of strangers who at the start of the event were afraid of even wearing the shades and turned them into teams who trusted, encouraged and communicated precisely with each other, to the point where they could work as a successful Goalball unit. See what the Cambridge News said about our launch event.


 

About Georgie’s blog

Georgie Bullen

Hi,

I’m Georgie Bullen, I’m a 2012 Goalball Paralympian and the Director of Team Insight Limited. I have played Goalball for Great Britain for over 5 years and now I want to share my passion with the world. Until I found Goalball, I was never interested in disability sport as I had only experienced adapted sports and felt that most were no way near as exciting as the real thing.  When I found Goalball, I was amazed to see that a sport that was specially designed for blind people was so quick and exciting. I could barely believe it was a disabled sport and it wasn’t long before I was hooked. As my time with Goalball went along, I experienced first hand just what it could do for people, my confidence grew, my communication skills developed and I really learned how to work successfully in a team. From this, I realised it would be the perfect tool for any business as it was a teambuilding experience that really did deliver!

I started Team Insight with the aim, of not only sharing my passion for Goalball and helping to strengthen working relationships through the fantastic sport, but also to spread visual impairment awareness. I have been visually impaired since the age of 5 and since then I have discovered how little is known about blindness. People tend to think that you’re either completely blind or fully sighted and they also expect if you are visually impaired, that you must physically appear to be visually impaired. So I decided I wanted to help educate people about visual impairment, but not by delivering a boring talk in a dusty meeting room, but by getting people to experience visual impairment in a entertaining and memorable way.

So that’s how it all began…keep following my blog to see how the next stages of Team Insight develop.

Thanks,

Georgie