A team building exercise without a Powerpoint presentation

Aaron O’Brien says building a team is one of the most important areas of a CIO’s role.

“Building a team is as important as the technology,” says the CIO of Les Mills International (LMI).

LMI, with headquarters in Auckland, is the largest provider of branded group fitness and training programs, being used in 15,500 clubs and gyms in more than 80 countries. It has more than 100,000 certified instructor guides, as well as around 1000 trainers across the globe, with 100 of them in the United States.

From the start, he says, “I was out to create a team that was part of the rest of the business and not see itself as a separate unit”.

“I have really focused on getting my staff immersed in the business,” he adds. “I encourage them to participate in all activities happening across the company, often these have nothing to do with IT."

He says the IT staff work out in the gyms using the Les Mills programs three to four hours a week. This means they also meet the other people across the group.

I encourage them to participate in all activities happening across the company, often these have nothing to do with IT Aaron O'Brien, Les Mills International

“We are a fitness company, we are about health and wellbeing,” says O’Brien. “We as a group are keen on participating on the products we put out, constantly improving our health and wellbeing.

At the moment, the IT team and online staff are in the midst of a five-minute plank challenge. For 30 days, the team will build their skill in this abdominal workout position, starting at 10 seconds, and adding a number of seconds everyday.

In the three months leading to Christmas, O’Brien says the IT staff members did 10 push-ups every hour. “We did it as a team, it does not sound like a lot but it is an extra 80 push ups in a day.”

This is an excerpt from an interview with Aaron O'Brien as part of the State of the CIO 2014 report in the upcoming issue of CIO New Zealand.

Related:The benefits of having a socially connected team Who do they go to for advice when assessing a difficult problem or discussing ideas? Who do they communicate with most frequently? Their answers could be critical factors to your team's success.

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