what's right for your team?
mix your own merlot. negotiate with terrorists to release hostages. sumo-wrestle in a bulky suit. use a map and compass to locate barbecue in a forest.
adventure racing may seem extreme, but it's no stranger than many other items on today's team-building menu. the bewildering variety of exercises begs the question, "and this will help my company how?"

"it's all about the process," says don taylor, chairman of the recreation and leisure studies department at san francisco state university and co-owner of a team-development company called adventure associates. "a really small percentage of success is related to knowledge of the task. and a huge percentage of success is related to communication and interaction."

new teams can start with "silliness and games" to help team members get to know each other, says taylor. but a team that's already working well together is ripe for a challenge that allows the team to discover each member's strengths and limitations. the solution to the puzzle - whether it's mixing wine or climbing a telephone pole - appears when the members pool their wits to overcome individual weaknesses.

regardless of which exercise you choose, suzanne zoglio, author of teams at work, offers these tips for getting the most from a team-building program:

•clarify your goals in advance, or choose a facilitator who makes that a key component of planning your event.

•debrief. the post-game analysis should drive home the connections between wine-mixing challenges and workplace challenges.

•check the corporate culture. be sure your office atmosphere isn't eroding any gains you made during the program. for example, an office that rewards individual accomplishments over team efforts will unravel the tightest-knit team.