Building Team Culture: Using ‘Safe Houses’ to Foster Trust & Collaboration

Building Team Culture: Using ‘Safe Houses’ to Foster Trust & Collaboration

In this article, our Incubation Studio team give their top tips for fostering a strong team culture.

Shortly after announcing the launch of our new program, the LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio team received an email from Michael Stahl, Head of Incubation:

“Our team is on a constant mission to push innovation and the future of play. Just like Navy SEALs need to retreat to safe houses with the purpose of debriefing and reflecting after critical missions, so do we! Our own ‘safe house’ meetings will act as a room for us to debrief, reflect, and provide candid feedback.”

The principle of a safe house is simple: slow down, reflect, and plan.

Safe houses are an antidote to our daily fast-paced work and lifestyle. At the LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio, we integrated safe houses as monthly sessions where we can focus on us as a team, rather than focusing on the tasks at hand. It’s also a safe harbor, allowing us to take a pause and discuss our processes, culture, and ways of working.

It all starts with us and how we perform as a team.

Ideally, for a meeting like this, we’d be in the same room, but given the current state of the world with COVID-19 and national lockdowns, we had our first safe house entirely online. And as a result, we’re more confident than ever about the power that safe houses can have for teams.

Our first safe house allowed us to set solid team values and have an open and transparent dialogue. We truly think a routine practice like this can benefit any team, especially with remote working. Some practical suggestions on how to bring this framework into your team are:

1.Determine the tools you’ll use for your team’s safe houses. We used tools like MiroNotion, and Zoom to collaborate and guide the session.

2.Schedule safe houses every month on the same day.

3.Plan the content/agenda. For example:

  • Duration: 2–3 hrs

4.Ask the team to contribute to the agenda.

5.Create a post-meeting action plan.

Building a new team can be a challenge as managers are tasked with not only hiring the right people but also fostering a team culture. Setting up rituals like monthly safe houses allows teams to have open and honest discussions, and ensure there’s a built-in time for reflection.

The LEGO Ventures Incubation Studio works with entrepreneurs to discover, test, and build new businesses in learning through play. Learn more about the Incubation Studio here.