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Three people wearing safety goggles and holding power tools in the Evans Hall courtyard.

Fostering Partnership and Community at a Woodworking Workshop

The Office of Inclusion and Diversity recently hosted an unusual team-building exercise: a woodworking workshop. Dana Carroll, a project specialist on the OID team, says the time spent with saws and drills helped cultivate team cohesion and challenge traditional power dynamics.

Sixteen members of the Yale SOM community gathered in the courtyard in early March to participate in a woodworking workshop, each using saws and power drills to create their own wooden stool. The Office of Inclusion and Diversity collaborated with DEI consulting firm Frailty Myths, co-founded by Georgia Hirsty ’22, to bring this team development exercise to life. Frailty Myths is an impact-driven, practice-based, and value-led organization whose unique, experience-centered programming results in lasting behavioral changes that lead to inclusive, diverse workplaces and communities where everyone can thrive. 

People sawing through a block of wood
Two people drilling wood
Person smiling widely, standing on the stepstool with hands raised

Designed to strengthen group dynamics and the ability to navigate difficult conversations, the workshop began with a discussion surrounding ways participants feel minimized and maximized in group settings. Though a big portion of the event was learning safe woodworking techniques, there was also an emphasis on teamwork, clear communication, and problem-solving. 

“Discussing the environments that make us feel minimized or maximized was a great exercise,” said Julia Fraivillig, an SOM staff member with the faculty support team. “I valued the chance to think about how I can be my best self while ensuring others can be their best too.” 

Participants were then asked to pair up and given a brief demonstration on how to use their saw and power drill. Following this, everyone went to work to create a sturdy wooden stool, which included sawing wood panels and drilling in screws. 

Person showing step stool
Two people celebrate finished step stool
Person displaying step stool
Person showing the foot stool they built.

Upon completing the exercise, each participant walked away with a brand-new wooden stool they created with the support of their partner and their Frailty Myths facilitator; however, a finished product was not the only takeaway. Everyone was able to foster relationships and collaboration beyond the completed stools. Students and staff were able to connect on a more personal level, build new relationships, and strengthen community along the way. 

Group photo

The workshop was a great reminder that effective leaders of business and society are not made in isolated environments; they are created through teamwork, communication, and an openness to learn from new experiences, even if those experiences involve sawdust.