Escaping the impossible

October 5, 2016

BUSN 201 students prepare for Mission Possible with a unique team-building exercise

For the past three years, students taking the BUSN201: Introduction to Sustainable Business course have been given a whirlwind opportunity. As part of "Mission Possible," each student is loaned $5 to start a business with several of their classmates. The team must invest their money to grow their venture and make money from it, and at the end of the experience, the team must repay their loans and decide how much to donate to local charities.

Unless students have worked together before, they often spend a lot of time (sometimes too much) trying to figure out how to build a functional team.

That’s why Assistant Professor Leo Wong, lead faculty member for the Mission Possible project, took the trendy idea of escape room challenges, and applied the lessons learned from those experiences to give his students a new way to build their teams.

“Team building is extremely important for the success of any group,” says Leo. “An escape room is not only fun, but challenges students to communicate, delegate and perform—all under pressure—which shares the same elements of running a business.”

Several teams of students decided to take advantage of the opportunity, including five Public Relations students who were relieved to “find their missing assignment” (the theme of one of the timed challenges; the other involved solving the mystery of Sherlock Holmes’ death) with just two and half minutes to spare.

“Divide and conquer,” advised Lindsay Jessup. “It wasn’t too often that one person would be standing there doing nothing. If you found yourself doing that, you would start looking at pictures or trying a task. Everyone kept busy. Because of that, we actually ended up doing the steps in a different order.”

They wouldn’t reveal the series of solutions because Leo hopes to fine-tune the exercise for the Winter term, but the team was thrilled that their communications skills were already being put to the test.

“I think everybody played on their own strengths a little bit,” says Halle Hochachka. “We figured out what we were best at and then we communicated that.”

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