Let’s get intimate

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Need to build a community from scratch?  Only have a few days to do it?  The Acumen Fund kicked off the orientation program for the class of 2008 last weekend in the Berkshires.  Acumen’s challenge was to bring together seven individuals from diverse backgrounds and make us feel connected to one other in short order.  How closely knit our group is will undoubtedly affect how much we rely on each other this year and beyond.

Here are some guiding principles for what worked:

1. Get out of town
Isolate your group from the distractions of everyday life.  Cut people off from their usual outlets.  This forces people to focus their energy on the people around them.

2. Act like a family
Share day-to-day responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, errands.  Playing through the familiar rhythm of life together brings out personality and preferences and will the underpinnings of someone’s cultural and social background.

3. Share personal, emotional stories
It may feel contrived at first but surely beats resume-sharing.  Evoking memories from the past is a powerful thing and sets a personal tone.

4. Be physical
Competition is healthy and helps channel aggressions in productive ways.  You can get to know a lot about how someone will perform under pressure by playing ping pong together. 

5. Solve problems together
Get stimulated intellectually.  Experiment with different roles in the group.  This will help the group know how to engage with each other, give and receive feedback.

6. Provide time for personal reflection
Give people a break from each other.  Most people need some time to themselves to relax or process the information they have taken in.

7. Have fun together
Obviously.

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