Collectively defining great teamwork at Øredev 2008

Posted by Chris on November 22, 2008

It is that time of the year again. Øredev, the largest software development conference in Sweden, was this week and we at Blueplane sponsored it again. This year they had a great idea. To encourage people to meet other people and actually go speak with the exhibitors, they had a game for the attendees. Each attendee had to collect a stamp from six different exhibitors to have a chance of winning some nice prizes. Not only that, by collecting those six stamps they also helped contribute money to Unicef for building schools in Africa. A great idea for a great cause!

Each exhibitor who participated in the game (by contributing money to Unicef) got to choose what they wanted attendees to do to get a stamp from them. Some just gave them a stamp when they asked for it. Boring! I wanted to maximize both our opportunity to meet people, but even more so I wanted to encourage people to talk to other attendees. So I came up with a game about collectively defining great teamwork.

To get a stamp from us at Blueplane, an attendee got one of our great looking business cards, which also doubles as a small index card. On the back side they would write a single word that defines great teamwork, according to that person.

Next, we taped the card with the word to their name badge that everyone wore around their neck, and then they had to walk around the conference looking for someone else with one of our cards with a word written on it. When they found someone (hopefully someone they had not met before) they then had to discuss and decide together which of the two words they had that were more important. Between their two words they had to assign seven points, such that the more important word perhaps got five points and the other got two points. They had to assign the points together and then come back to our booth, together, and share their thoughts and how they divided the seven points. That earned them their stamps, and we had an iPod Touch that they now had a chance of winning.

We collected the words and summed up the points they got, and then used this data to write the following definition of what great teamwork is. To everyone who helped us do this, and contributed to building schools in Africa, thank you!

Great teamwork as defined by attendees at Øredev 2008
Great teamwork builds on communication between individuals committed on a common goal. A keen interest in sharing knowledge between one another brings the team members together, creating a fun environment to work in.


I want to give credit to Tobias Mayer, who’s thoughts and description of a session he ran at Agile 2008 inspired me when I designed this game.

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  • Tobias, I agree completely. However, I wanted to use whatever words the participants gave me, and communication was the top word. But if I'd write it in my own words I'd use collaboration instead. And trust would be there as well. (That was my word)

  • Hi Chris, this sounds like a neat variation on the "35" game. I am glad that my session inspired you, and I'd like to give credit to the man who introduced me to this game -- Matt Smith, the Seattle improv artist: http://matt-smith.net/

    I like your final statement, and the only edit I'd like to see is the word "communication" changed to "collaboration", which I think of as a deeper, more holistic form of communication.

  • Claudio, thanks a lot! And also thank you for wearing "Passion" all week, even after you entered the competition with Mike. http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishedgate/3048844120/

  • Chris, that was a fantastic idea, I really loved it.
    I'm always genuinely impressed and inspired by the creative approach that all of you guys have at Blueplane.
    Hopefully I'll meet you soon again.
    /Claudio

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