The Bird Box Challenge Teambuilding Event, offered by Fort Lee, New Jersey’s Teambuilding on the Edge, is causing alarm in the meetings industry due to the risk of injury or death it poses for participants.
Inspired by the myriad “Bird Box Challenge” videos on YouTube and social media based on the movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock, Teambuilding on the Edge owner Richard Ferger is offering a teambuilding program in which blindfolded participants navigate a variety of challenging environments to foster leadership and teamwork while forging personal bonds.
Any tie-in to a hit movie or viral Twitter sensation has got serious juice, and if you can combine the two, you’ve got a license to print money.
But what if the ultimate payoff is a one-way ticket to the emergency room?
A Most Cutting-Edge Teambuilding Trend
Not one to miss an opportunity, Teambuilding on the Edge owner Richard Ferger viewed the social media videos and saw an opportunity to offer a teambuilding program in which blindfolded participants navigate a variety of challenging environments to foster leadership and teamwork while forging personal bonds.
“The Twitter thing, you know? The young people love it,” Ferger told Meetings Today. “And who can deny the star power of Sandra Bullock? Combine those two and you’ve got teambuilding gold. And what can forge personal trust bonds more than being completely vulnerable in a sensory-deprived environment filled with dangerous obstacles?”
But what about the amazingly high probably of serious injury or even death involved with blindfolding teambuilding participants and sending them through these obstacle-rich environments?
“How about a ‘high-wire balancing act’ on a ropes course? What about ‘trust falls’?” Ferger reasoned. “It’s life. If you don’t take on a bit of risk, why even get out of bed in the morning?
“Sure, we’ve had a few scrapes and bruises, but here at Teambuilding on the Edge, our motto is ‘Get out of your bubble and live your best life!’ he added.
“You know what my old high school football coach used to tell me? ‘Walk it off!’ That’s what he used to say," Ferger continued. "Well, we went on to win State that year.”
Teambuilding Experts Shocked and Awed
A highly competitive segment of the meetings and events industry, much like the programs themselves, teambuilding companies are always looking for that “edge” over their competitors. But for the owner of Seattle-based teambuilding company Geoteaming, the Bird Box Challenge has the potential to send participants plunging off a cliff.
"The Blind Trust Walk is one of the hearts of corporate teambuilding, but the Bird Box Challenge Teambuilding Event has participants living on and over the edge,” said John Chen, CEO of Geoteaming, which specializes in gamification at meetings and events.
“Corporate teambuilding follows a key principle of ‘Challenge by Choice’ to help [maintain a] corporate edge and avoid lawsuits, but your return on investment will be negative if a teammate falls out of a building," he added.
What Meeting and Event Planners Need to Know
According to top meetings industry attorney Tyra Hilliard, the inherent risk in offering a program such as the Bird Box Challenge far outweighs any short-term financial benefit piggybacking on the Twitter and movie craze presents.
“There is a point at which innovation becomes irresponsibility,” Hilliard said.
“A business owner owes a duty of care to its client," she added. "This duty of care includes ensuring that the program meets a reasonable safety standard. If the business owner is found not to have met the duty of care and the breach of duty of care is the cause of an injury—or death!—there can be a finding of negligence liability.
“Blindfolding people and putting them in potentially dangerous situations seems to be flirting with legal disaster in my opinion,” Hilliard concluded.
Like that epic 1979 rock ’n’ roll anthem Flirtin’ With Disaster by “Florida Guitar Army” Molly Hatchet, how long will it be before an innocent attendee pays the ultimate price for the recklessness of an irresponsible teambuilding operator?
What is the answer? The answer is the same as it is on this day every year. APRIL FOOLS’!!! Don’t try this at home, or anywhere else, for that matter.
For a little extra April Fools' Day fun, check out this video of the Bird Box Challenge in action below, courtesy of John Chen and Geoteaming:
Editor’s Note: For some serious teambuilding discussion, check out this related content: