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Kon Tiki is a great water based team building activity.
Kon Tiki is a boat building and water based team building challenge.

The Kon Tiki team building challenge


The world’s most innovative and exciting “build your own boat” team building concept!  Teams will select a special boat design and plans, collect some unusual building materials, allocate suitable roles, then build a sturdy seaworthy vessel before taking to the high seas (or a nice safe resort lagoon or pool).


Just like the original Kon Tiki expedition, the critics may look at the time and resources available and deem this challenge impossible.  The impossible will quickly become very possible (and lots of fun) as the power of the team and a well co-ordinated effort takes over to make the project a reality.


Pure excitement and fun can be the goal, or business focused objectives (such as cross-functional collaboration, decision making, team role behaviours, balancing systems and innovation, budgeting and innovation, project management and many more).  The concept can be designed and adapted as required.  Many facets and tasks exist within the team building challenge to ensure that everyone has a rewarding role to play in keeping the team afloat whether they want to build, design, decorate or crew the vessel.  It’s up to them.


The concept can be conducted as a stand-alone team challenge event or carefully dovetailed into a myriad of themes such as “Pirate’s Plunder”, “Navy Seals”, “The Corporate Regatta”, “Lost City of Atlantis”, “Raise the Titanic” and many more.  This thematic approach can further enhance the impact of the event and allow us to make enjoyable parallels to your industry, company or developmental issues. 


The conclusion of the event can consist of simple races and regattas, or the recovery of submerged treasure or components of a secret weapon in accordance with any of the selected themes.


A sample run order for one of these events could be…


Theme-based opening sequence (e.g. Viking, Pirate or Navy Seal Raid).  The group is seated in anticipation of another session of ‘chalk n’ talk’.  Mid way during the introduction, the Sabre crew (dressed as per your chosen theme) bursts in and seizes control of the group.


Teams are formed and then collect their plans and equipment.  All teams will be issued with identical equipment and information, it is how the teams use these resources that will differentiate the winners!


Build, decorate and name the vessel.  Teams will now commence the building of the boats.  Teams will need ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure that the boats are built, decorated and ready to sail at the designated time.


Judging of designs and decoration. Points are awarded to teams on the style and decorating of the boats.  The true test of the ability of the teams to execute their plans will be whether the vessels will race!


Final race.  Teams now get to test the boats in the final challenge.  This can be a race, recovery of sunken treasure or an all teams regatta.


Review and awards ceremony.  A debrief of the days activities before points are awarded and winners announced.


Potential Key Learning Points / Outcomes from a Kon Tiki Team Building Challenge


Team Roles and Diversity

Whilst constructing the vessels each team member invariably contributes in accordance with their own unique team role style or strengths in addition to whatever functional role falls to them.  Functional roles in building the boat will be different but complementary, and likewise, the natural team styles of the individuals will be differ but need to be complimentary for the total project to succeed. 


Impossible can be possible with good systems and wise use of resources

The team will have the opportunity to make what seemed impossible, possible, by using good systems and the resources at hand to the best effect.  With commitment and use of the available systems the project can be very well executed.  Who would have thought we could make an excellent boat from cardboard sheets?


Cross Functional Working

We can design this event so that teams are required to engage in some cross-functional sharing of ideas and equipment to enable them to complete the project with greater speed or effectiveness.


Bigger Picture Thinking

If we provide all teams with an overall united challenge or outcome, but leave temptations to focus only upon the execution of their own vessel, issues of Big Picture versus Micro thinking will come into play as teams need to address not only their own project, but also those of other teams to ensure overall success.  Within the team, they must also ensure that their part of the project actually dovetails into all of the other elements to make sure it all comes together at the end.



Improve Execution

The vessels require not only the great plans and systems that teams will devise, but they must be followed through into effective and timely execution if the ideas and approaches are to be converted into real and workable outcomes.


Fun and Motivation

Teams have a great deal of fun, and motivate one another a great deal towards completion as the seek to build the boats within the timeframe permitted as well as decorate boats and people before the big testing of their vessels upon the water.



Changes to technical information, deadlines and other mission critical elements can be injected at various times to mirror real world issues and themes.



Internal and external communication will be essential, as teams need to interpret and then effectively communicate information that is critical to making sure the diverse elements of the project come together in the right way for the desired end result.  If we don’t share information and communicate, the boat won’t float!


Customer Focus

Vessels may need to be constructed in accordance with strict tender criteria from facilitators acting as various profiles of customer with varying and changing needs as the project is underway.



Within teams there is a high degree of networking as people work closely together to get the project done.  Networking between teams can also be facilitated if we design the activity to require co-operation between teams for common objectives or shared outcomes.


Re-Enforce Conference Content

Team, company and product related themes and issues can easily be incorporated into the event as either a focus for the project itself




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