Creating Networks with Gardner Builders

When Bob Gardner, CEO of Gardner Builders, asked us if we could help him and his leadership team put on their annual team vision meeting, we jumped at the opportunity. Bob is a Studio/E member and we have enjoyed watching his company grow exponentially over the past few years. In fact, the photo below is of a Studio/E Compass Bob filled out years ago while going through our At the Hill program:

This daylong team vision meeting took place at Machine Shop in Northeast Minneapolis and it was unlike any event we’ve done. Typically when we do events, someone from our team leads. For this event we took on more of a support, instead of facilitation, role. And we loved it.

There were three clear outcomes of the meeting before it took place, but the number one goal was to create team unity. Gardner Builders is made up of office staff (think administrators, sales team and the like), as well as a team of folks out on the field. What made this event special was the crossover of their business. It’s rare that a carpenter or a skilled laborer would work alongside the accounting manager or marketing director, but for an entire day they had the opportunity to get to know one another. Everyone participated and showed up as the best version of themselves, creating a unique and transformative experience. People left feeling inspired — including us.

Bob and his leadership team ran the company through exercises that fostered team building and created awareness around Gardner Builder’s goals. We led an exercise to identify what business they are really in, and Studio/E member Vikas Narula of Keyhubs came in to do a horizontal networks assessment and talk about the importance of building a network within your organization.

Tapping into their current means, teams created prototypes of a building they are working on with the restricted resources provided to them, including Lincoln Logs, Play-Doh and other craft supplies. These teams were strategically created by leadership to mix up departments and create new relationships. And as part of the accountability piece that we try to incorporate into all events, the 80 people at Gardner Builders each got up and made a declaration, or a commitment to furthering Gardner’s purpose over the next 30 days.

Gardner’s team vision meeting was energizing and opened our eyes to just how powerful relationships within a company really are. You see, people don’t trust titles — people trust people. Great things happen when people are pushed outside of their comfort zone (adults played with Play-Doh together; it wasn’t exactly another day at the office), and as a result, they built strong relationships that will stretch beyond this six-hour experience. We were grateful to play a role in this important day.

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