Breaking the ice with Lego; a lesson in good engineering practices

TL;DR: It is a little story of how we broke the ice between our staff, obtained to play with lego, and nonetheless managed to squeeze in a lesson or two on good engineering practices.

Our firm is rising, quick! With exploding from 150 to 370 robust staff new within the final 12 months, there are frequently new faces to attempt to meet. As we’re a extremely distant firm, assembly new faces could be a daunting and Donut crammed process. So when the chance to satisfy everybody, head to head, presents itself, you must benefit from it.

Throughout our latest all-hands occasion, 140 individuals from our technical orgs got here collectively for a day of mingling and connecting. 49% of the attendees have been inside their first 6 months of being on the firm, with a whopping 80% of attendees being with in first 12 months. With so many faces in a single place, it may be intimidating for the tenured folks and an entire sea of unfamiliarity for the newer individuals.



Lego Ice Breaker Problem

With a purpose to chill out everybody and have a little bit of enjoyable, we kicked off the day with a Lego “ice breaker” problem. Group of 8 have been shaped, consisting of 4 individuals with lower than 6 months tenure and 4 with over 6 months tenure. After giving individuals a second to say their names and mingle, the groups have been break up into two sister groups.



Half 1: Generally we get to create a mannequin masterpiece

For half 1, every sister staff was supplied considered one of two instruction envelopes and half a field of # 10698 lego. The “A” staff was tasked with constructing a mannequin home, and the “B” staff with a mannequin cafe. Every instruction set included selecting from an inventory of choices, creating the construction and furniturishings.

Group’s got quarter-hour to construct as a lot of their mannequin as they might. Buying and selling of bricks was inspired, in case one staff had too lots of a selected kind of precious constructing supplies.

On the finish of the quarter-hour, groups have been requested to step again from their creations and we requested a number of questions by means of a present of fingers and viewers response:

  • Did your staff self-organize or plan first or did it bounce straight into constructing?
  • Did any groups change their plan throughout the construct?
  • Did any groups commerce bricks with different groups?
  • Is there something your staff would do otherwise subsequent time?

Almost everybody managed to recover from 80% of their mannequin in-built the time-frame, with a few 1/third of groups buying and selling for bricks. Most groups jumped straight in and designed as they constructed, with solely a few quarter designing earlier than constructing.

Lego Creations



Half 2: Generally we’re sustaining another person’s creation

Whereas constructing one thing from scratch is nice enjoyable, some days we’re tasked with sustaining and enhancing another person’s creation.

Groups have been handed a second envelope that included adjustments and upgrades to the fashions. Earlier than groups have been allowed to open their second envelope, and with out prior warning, groups have been requested to change with their sister staff. Groups would now need to open the second envelope and enhance their sister groups creation. (Word: In case you are planning on working such an occasion, preserve the swap a shock. The collective groan from a big viewers realizing what simply occurred is :cooks kiss: )

The second set of directions included modifications to the unique plans, and one other checklist of potential extensions so as to add. Groups have been required to make sure that each the primary and second set of directions have been adopted. Most groups have been left scratching their head to what stood in entrance of them, whereas some groups fast to understand they might nonetheless talk with their sister staff and get some information handover.

Groups got simply 10 minutes to change the creation and guarantee each Half 1 and Half 2 have been full. Group’s learnt from their first spherical of constructing and have been extremely artful and inventive in fixing the design issues with the restricted remaining bricks.

Upon the timer ringing out to cease, we walked round with a mic and requested one member of every staff to reply two questions for us:

  • What did your staff do nicely and never so nicely?
  • What might your sister staff have executed to make sustaining/modifying their creation simpler?

Essentially the most attention-grabbing responses included:

  • Most groups discovered it tough to determine what the unique staff had constructed.
  • Some groups labored in a lot nearer collaboration for spherical two, leading to a excessive degree of data and block sharing.
  • A couple of groups had sorted the lego by block kind and/or shade, making it simpler for the subsequent staff to get in and begin constructing.
  • One staff gave excessive reward to their sister staff for constructing on high of a design drawing with labels to what every room was, leaving them with clear documentation of the design.

Lego creations



All a little bit of enjoyable, with a little bit of studying combined in

The entire train took lower than an hour to finish, however it broke the ice between individuals with a degree of success that we hadn’t anticipated. The room was alive with chatter, individuals have been laughing and making new connections.

Regardless that groups have been taking part in with lego, they in the end noticed the hyperlink again to software program growth. Constructing one thing new may be enjoyable and thrilling, however we must always endeavour to create cleanly and preserve good documentation for we by no means know when our creation will unexpectedly by handed to a different staff (or we get handed another person’s creation).

If you wish to do that train along with your staff, you could find the directions for the groups right here: https://github.com/ESchippers/Lego-ice-breaker

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