A team of 35 participants underwent the HEMA Challenge on the Fort-island in IJmuiden. “According to the participants this was a great success!”
What we wanted to introduce, was a variety of reasonable technical work processes which are standardised”, says Maarten van Ginneke, management development trainee of HEMA. “People had to learn to start working with those, and on top of that these people used to work at another spot in the company: younger people and elderly, people who just joined the company and people who are here for 25 years. Our first thoughts were towards a workshop. “However, I immediately stood open for something more exiting. Then Edwin Boom of MOOVS came with the idea of a game. While talking it became more fun and we were more enthusiastic. We didn’t want to go to another hotel with a few meeting rooms. I did hear about the Fort-island in IJmuiden once before, I went there to take a look and after that the choice was simple.”

Game elements

For two days, the HEMA-employees who are responsible for the merchandising, were immersed in the HEMA Challenge. The first day, the Challenge had a high grade of game elements combined with substantive ‘think’ assignments. On the one hand varied game elements: employees walked over a four meters high balance beam, had to pass an imaginary minefield without touching the ground, had to get across in a spider web or had to throw themselves backwards from a barrel and trust their colleagues to catch them. By carrying out these assignments as quickly as possible, the participants could start quicker with their substantive case. During the substantive assignment, HEMA practice-related situations had to be solved by working closely together and exchange knowledge. Who solved the assignment good and successfully, could earn pieces of a blue print every time. The team that did collect all the pieces, could start with the end-game: building a catapult. They all seem playful parts – and that is how they were perceived – but the underlying meaning was indeed serious: stimulating team work, practicing of tactical thinking or clear communicating; all issues that are essential on the work floor. The second day the accent was more on the evaluation of the processes. Maarten van Ginneke: Initially I was a bit doubtful: that game is going to be real fun, but is it really about passing knowledge. Afterwards, during the evaluation, was found out that everybody knew exactly what he or she had to know. Besides, the effect of teambuilding that you automatically take along with such a game, is also very important.”

“Participants have pleasantly surprised us”

Merchandiser Jules Oomen was partly responsible for the substantive content. “It has been two very beautiful days. Everybody was enthusiastic. During the game, people had to answer questions, so that we could test their knowledge. We were pleasantly surprised that they were able to give answers that were even deeper than we imagined! You also noticed that if someone was stuck for a moment, another colleague pitched in and started to explain the story on his own initiative.