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News & Information
Listing of current seminars, new programs and other information on Jackson, Wong & Associates

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Canadian HR Reporter

May 8, 2000

Click on the graphic to the left to print or view the Adobe Acrobat version of the article about our Corporate Teambuilding.

Click here to read all about Food For Thought

Jackson, Wong & Associates

makes headlines with our work in developing a
new type of Corporate Teambuilding program!

Articles on the Food For Thought Program have appeared recently in the Wall
Street Journal
and HR Executive magazine.  Please contact us to receive a
copy of either of these articles.  You may also click on the details link
above to learn more about the program.




For more information,, contact: Mary Huff or Alice Coggin, Fleishman Hillard, 404-659-4446

News in Corporate Team-Building


GREENWOOD, Miss. - February 29, 2000 -- For a growing number of executives, the next corporate training session is as likely to involve chopping celery as chopping wood. Cutting edge training companies across the country are bringing groups in from the wilderness and steering them straight to the kitchen. Donning aprons and chef's hats, executives in these "cooking adventures" learn as much about group dynamics - sometimes more - than managers who attend other traditional team-building programs.

Leading this trend in culinary corporate team-building is Viking Range Corporation, known as the originator of luxury commercial-style kitchen appliances. Through a partnership with Atlanta-based organizational consulting company Jackson, Wong & Associates, Viking has taken cooking programs to a level that would leave ropes course participants - and facilitators - with their mouths watering. The sessions are conducted at the Viking Culinary Arts Center, a world-class teaching kitchen, state-of-the-art demonstration theatre and retail shop for professional caliber cooking tools. The first two locations are in Memphis and Nashville, with more locations planned for the future.

"The Viking Culinary Arts Center is the place for serious culinary enthusiasts to go for new ideas, new tools and new cooking skills. It was only natural for us to develop a world-class corporate training program built around the cooking experience," explains Carol Daily, Managing Director of the Viking Culinary Arts Center.

Viking's comprehensive course, "Recipe for Success:- The Viking Team-Building Experience" not only teaches team-building skills, but also encourages people to experience the fun of cooking in a state-of-the-art, professional teaching kitchen.

"Jackson, Wong is a perfect partner for us," says Daily, "not just because they are a nationally-known corporate training and development firm, but because they have a great respect and feel for cooking. They understand the dynamics of cooking and have skillfully applied the team-building process to the cooking experience," says Daily.

The Viking team-building sessions are typically one-day programs that accommodate up to ten participants; however, the sessions can be expanded to offer individual counseling and can also be customized to meet specific corporate objectives. Regardless of what option is selected, participants not only learn cooking and team-building techniques using the highest-quality kitchen equipment, but as a final reward for their achievement, they also enjoy their Epicurean masterpieces at the end of the day.

"What the groups don't know is that we design each recipe to bring out issues relevant to that particular team's corporate concerns," notes Wilson Wong, facilitator and partner in Jackson, Wong & Associates. "Issues which groups have addressed include everything from interpersonal dynamics to difficulties in taking initiative."

Prior to entering a program, each team member's personality is profiled through the time-honored Birkman Method , a behavioral and motivational assessment tool, which can be administered to each participant via the Internet. At the start of a session, the facilitator explains the objective: to understand and appreciate the differences in behavioral styles and personalities of each co-worker. As with any team-building program, each player is able to experience in a new, objective way the dramas that play out in the workplace. When issues arise, groups are coached on how to work with differing behavioral, supervision and analytic styles, encouraging each member to interact and communicate more effectively.

The Viking team-building sessions are extremely effective at improving team members' communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills - key goals of team-building exercises.

"Because the kitchen is generally a familiar setting for participants, team dynamics seem to emerge very quickly,' Wong says. " In fact, issues arise much more quickly than in an outdoor program, where there's often a much higher degree of apprehensiveness and fear."  At the same time, however, Wong notes that each Viking Culinary Arts Center is more stunningly appointed and efficient than the average home kitchen. "That puts everyone on a fairly level playing field, regardless of their previous experience."

Culinary team-building programs are starting to spring up across the country. The offerings run the gamut of fledgling "let's bond over cooking" classes to cutting-edge seminars like the Viking program that are developed around sophisticated assessment and training tools. Jackson, Wong & Associates has seen interest in food programs increase significantly each year over the five years it has been offering a culinary program. "I've noticed that whether at a big Thanksgiving gathering or when a few friends get together for dinner, people relate to one another in the kitchen," Wong said.

To Wong, cooking sessions are a great team-building technique because people adapt quickly to their workplace behavior in the kitchen. This gives the facilitator a chance to bring any issues "to the table" and address them quickly.

The impact of the Viking Team Building program lasts far beyond the one-day course. The facilitator ensures that insights and lessons learned in the kitchen are taken back to the workplace. According to Daily, "When groups return to the office and resort to old behavior, someone is sure to humorously remind them of the 'recipe' for creating harmony and improving communication on the job."

To schedule a Viking Team-Building Experience, please contact: Colleen DePete at The Viking Culinary Arts Center, Memphis, (901) 578-5822; or Mary Stodola, The Viking Culinary Arts Center, Nashville, (615) 599-9617.


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