So the idea was approved, albeit with some concern, naturally. Would people really want to spend two to three hours solving puzzles? When the plan was announced, a common response was, “Do I really have to do this scavenger thing?” (I knew it wasn’t really anything like a scavenger hunt, but there was really no way to explain it to people, until they experienced it themselves.)
So for the next month and a half, I worked with a team of dedicated Fools to put together a truly memorable event. Here’s how it worked:
Fools were divided into teams of five people each. In my experience, this is the ideal number for maximizing involvement and productivity. Fewer than that and you’re not taking full advantage of the “wisdom of crowds.” And larger than that? Well, some people start tuning out and you start to see inefficiencies creep in.
Teams started by receiving a set of company cards, each with the name of a fictitious company, such as Tickerwaster or Wahoo! Teams had to trade companies with other teams in order to build the highest value portfolio. The catch was that they didn’t know all of the rules of the game. However, they could trade rules with other teams in order to learn all the different ways that portfolios were scored.
Teams also received a map with the locations to five puzzles. When they solved a puzzle, they received additional cards and rules. And so on. At the end of the event, the team that turned in the most valuable 10-card portfolio was the winner.
And the puzzles? Well, I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but here are some highlights:
- A real-live Shakespearean troupe performing versions of popular financially themed movies (Wall Street, Slumdog Millionaire, Trading Places, etc.).
- Building a sandwich out of ingredients printed on transparencies (which when stacked correctly revealed a secret message).
- Matching 10 bandanna pieces according to clues printed on the edges (which then formed a recognizable shape).
- And so on.
And the teams absolutely loved it. So many people told me later they were skeptical about the event, but once they got into it, they had a great time. Of course, I was elated.
It was clear that everybody had a good time. But it was also clear that people got a lot out of it. They bonded with co-workers. They overcame initial fears of feeling stupid, and ended up feeling much smarter as a result. And they learned to work efficiently and productively with a group of fellow Fools that they didn’t really know that well – which was my hope from the beginning.