One of the absolute joys of owning a small company is that you get to set the rules. One of the rules at NimblePros is that Wednesday, after our company lunch, the entire team plays a game.
Now, I know some of you in Corporate America will laugh (those of you who aren’t crying), but this is something that is critical to the success of NimblePros. Not only does it help to build a strong cross-functional team, but it also is essential for recruiting.
Think about it. The whole idea of Agile is built on the concept of good communication and a cohesive team. How can you effectively communicate with your other team members if you don’t really know them? Playing a game together offers an ideal opportunity for people to step outside of their normal business roles to interact on a level playing field. It allows individuals who may not work together on a daily basis to get to know each other and to learn how to communicate effectively with one another. And it allows team members to build a sense of unity, so that “working towards a common goal” seems more like a real purpose than a bunch of empty words on a company mission statement.
The best games to start with are ones that are cooperative in nature, at least to some degree. At NimblePros, we like Word Blur, since it requires you to work on a team to communicate a mystery word using a pile of single word tiles. Werewolf, also known in some circles as Mafia, is another popular option, since it requires the entire group to interact closely. If you want to illustrate how hard it really is to communicate, Telestrations, a cross between Pictionary and Telephone is a good choice, and if you are a serious board gaming group, Pandemic is awesome. In short, it should allow the group to interact, not be too adversarial, and create stories that are handed down as office lore for years to come. (“Oh say green” or “naked cheese grater” anyone?) And it needs to make you laugh.
I also love these games from a recruiting standpoint. I love being able to tell interviewees, “Yes, we REALLY DO play a game every week, not just for interviews.” More importantly, though, watching potential employees playing a game with the rest of the team tells me a tremendous amount about that individual. How do they think? What are they like as a person? And, most importantly, how do they get along with our existing team? If you are bright, eager to learn, and work well with our team, you will probably thrive in the NimblePros environment.
And game playing is a great perk for our current employees. I want a staff that enjoys what they are doing professionally, but I also want them to have FUN. As it happens, whether by accident or design, NimblePros has cultivated a staff that enjoys playing board games. They get together on a regular basis outside of work to play, and we have company game nights to get spouses and significant others involved too. We’re not a huge corporation and we don’t have a company jet to fly the staff to Hawaii for a company retreat (yet). But we can offer the opportunity to play games at work, and to be part of a really exceptional agile team.
So, as you are building your own agile team, don’t forget to include some fun and games. Weeks of daily scrums won’t build the level of cooperation and good communication that a few rounds of Telestrations at lunch can achieve. And if you are ready for something more, check out our careers page at NimblePros.com. We’re hiring, and board gaming experience is a plus!