My very first task as the newly appointed chief collaboration Fool was to run a big team-building event at our annual company meeting – what we loving call “Foolapalooza”.
This came as no surprise to me. In fact, it was my idea.
For a long time, I’ve been a fan of real-world treasure hunts. The kind you see in the movie National Treasure, where you solve a clue that leads to a new location, at which point you find another clue, and so on … until you reach your final treasure. At least that’s the hope.
Traditionally, the first afternoon of Foolapalooza had been reserved for group outings and activities such as softball, canoeing, paintball, wine-tasting, etc. And this was very popular. So it was with a little trepidation that I proposed we abandon this plan and instead have the entire company participate in a custom puzzle hunt of my creation.
Why change? Well, I thought there was some real value in conquering challenges as a team and on top of that, doing so with a group of people you normally didn’t get to work with. I also felt like I had the chance to have them experience something they had never done before.
When I pitched the idea to the planning committee, I figured what better way to demonstrate the kind of puzzles I was talking about than to have them solve one. And that’s what I did.
I handed them nine cartoon drawings of marine life: fish, crabs, whales, etc. A number and an English word were written on each animal:
The instructions? Well, the only thing I told the group was that this puzzle had a single phrase as its answer. And that was it. They had to figure out what to do.
At first the team looked at the words and tried to scramble them into other things or identify the fish and so on, but there wasn’t much success. But then they had their first “aha!” moment.
“SCRIMP is very close to SHRIMP. In fact, it’s one letter different.” To which somebody else added, “Yeah! And TUBA could be TUNA!” And so on until the team had identified nine ocean-related animals:
“Is that the answer?” they asked?
I shook my head no.
They studied the fish again. Finally, somebody said, “Well, wait, what if we look at the letters that changed?” Slowly they began to unearth a message. O-C-E-A … OCEAN! B-L-U … BLUE. OCEAN BLUE?
The group members high-fived each other, happy in their success. I then explained to them that in the Foolapalooza hunt teams would solve five or six challenges more elaborate than this, many of them Fool-themed. And in the process, they would have to think outside the box, listen to each other, be open-minded, deal with failure, and hopefully ultimately succeed.
And that was how the first ever Great Foolapalooza Hunt was green-lighted.
Stay tuned next week for Part 2, where I explain the structure of The Great Foolapalooza Hunt!