The Unity in Diversity

Longest Chain

“The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm or group thinking and thus boost organizational performance and improve decision making.”

Our Continuous Learning activity sessions are always fun-filled. We have always enjoyed the challenges that have been put to us through these sessions. We have loved the learning as well that have come from these continuous learning sessions and there have been many lessons to take away.

We have done it all at these sessions – teamwork, strategizing, leadership and these sessions have culminated in stronger bonding between us as a team. We were ready for more of these challenging activities and that is exactly what Heena Shaikh, our newest Senior QA Tester, gave us this week.

To put a long story short, she put us to test. Man! What a test! It was almost as if we were to give a bug-free solution and we had little to no idea of how to get to that destination. Of course, she gave us the means to get there but didn’t tell us the exact path as to how to reach there. That she left it to us. She bound us in chains of doubts and questions. The activity was called “The Longest Chain.”

Seemingly a simple game, it took some time for us to work it out. First of all, Heena divided us into two different teams. She gave us a few sheets of paper which had few circles drawn on it. She also gave a pair of scissors and a roll of tape. There was only one instruction given to us – make a chain in which every circle was intact (there should be no cut off circles). There were no other conditions or restriction (so we had a free hand there with the task).

Confusion reigned everywhere. But we got working. Of course, we had questions – if circles were to be intact, why the pair of scissors? Why the tape? We were then told that we could use the pair of scissors and tape cut and join the circles to make a longer chain. It was some relief. We got working again.

Both the teams played well. Yogita and Bhanu’s team put in all their efforts to make a chain that had intact circles – not a circle out of place. Whereas Vivek and Pritam’s team concentrated on making a longer chain and they succeeded and won the game.

Once the activity was over, the teams got together to discuss their experience and learning (that is the grand finale of our continuous learning session and we all love this part a lot).

We started with Heena and her motive in bringing this activity to the team. She thought of this game as it had nuances to the day-to-day work life where everyone is required to strategize, plan and work as a team and assume leadership. In a way it was apt. Here’s how the other team members felt about the game and their learnings:

For Astha, there was a little bit of confusion about the rules. She said that at first, they realized that they had to make a chain. Then it was made clear that they could cut the paper to make the chain. Everybody plunged in and took up some of the other work. They didn’t plan on it but took up whatever came their way and made a success of this teamwork.

Monali too was confused but then as things became clear they all took up whatever work was there to make things happen.

Shaily was initially worried about making the long-chain but the as things became clear, it helped. She felt that the aim should be clear and only if they know what is the end, the path could be clear and moving forward possible.

Blessy too was confused and couldn’t make heads or tails of anything at first and then as instructions became clear, she felt that everyone in the team took over and helped each other out. She felt that strategizing is important, but how we make ourselves fit into teamwork is very important too.

Prithashree likened the activity as a picture of everyone’s day-to-day work life. She said that they were just given a target and absolutely no guidelines to achieve it. She could see the similarity in the way she and Shubham works and as things became clear, success can be achieved.

Prajakta felt that the activity was about teamwork and new ideas. For her, it was also about welcoming and using these new ideas. The lesson for her was that everyone should take their responsibility as their own to achieve success as a team.

Sakshi noticed that there was no leader in their team and said that every time there need not be a leader to lead the team and also opined that there were no winners in this activity as everyone had their strategy and worked accordingly.

Pritam too was confused at the start about the rules. He noticed that Monali and Prajakta were creating their chains so that they could add it to the main chain at the end to create a longer chain – a kind of parallel processing. He felt that, at times, there should be parallel processing on the work front too.

As usual, Vivek had quite a lot of say and a lot of learnings to share as well. He liked the activity a lot. For him, the activity was not just about teamwork. It was about workforce diversity. He explained that it was about people having different skills set and different approaches to solving this problem to get to the solution. He had examples as well.

His example was that if he was the only person doing this task, it would have taken him 3 hours to finish this game. On his part, there was too much thinking. He called him a slow thinker and kept thinking about why they were given the tape and pair of scissors. He felt that Pritam, on the other hand, was a fast thinker – that his CPU processed faster than his own – and thought on his feet. Pritam was the one who thought to fold the paper so that the circle matches and this saved them time and helped them create a longer chain than the other team.

Vivek said that there should be the same diversity when it came to working – when there was a project or sprint, people should be able to take on roles that are available rather than just do one role of cutting the paper. This should help make the team’s output better. He also said that there should be slow thinkers to slow them down and somebody to take them forward faster and that is a healthy combination to have in a team.

Subhodh compared the activity with Chandrayaan. He felt that though they had a clear vision and mission they missed out at the end though everyone contributed very well. He also appreciated Yogita’s activity execution.

Pranjal made everyone laugh when she spoke about her experience of the activity and how she and Subhodh tried to make light of the confusion over the rules. To this, Vivek was quick to point out that it was a great example of mutual support in a crisis.

Yogita explained how they concentrated on the proportion and matching the circles. She was all praises for the team’s efforts at contributing to the goal though they didn’t achieve the KPIs and said that everyone stood as a team.

Bhanu was another person who found the rules confusing and felt that the aim had to be clear and he followed Yogita as he felt she knew the right thing to do.

Shubham too felt that if the aim is not clear then no matter what we do and how much we try we cannot meet the goal.

Zahir also opined that requirements should be clear.

Avinash said that this activity was a perfect example for doing more with less. They took care to make perfect circles and ended up reaching only halfway. The lesson is to change as the situation requires.

Bhushan had a different view – he emphasized on the prioritizing the work – Team A prioritized making circles and Team B on making a longer chain. For him, teamwork, prioritizing and how you look at things were key lessons. To this Vivek said that if the goal is clear, it is not that there is not a solution. The key is to ask questions.

Vivek explained that it was their willingness to define the problem is the key differentiator in winning the activity. They were looking at solving the problem directly.

Truly said Vivek! Another key lesson to take home for each one of us.

Kudos to team diversity!

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