During a visit to our headquarters in South Florida last week, the company engaged in a week-long office olympics that brought out fierce competitive spirit, creativity, team work, and leadership. Like nothing we’ve done before, it drew us closer, taught us valuable team-building skills, and created a wealth of ideas for internal and external services. And we had lots of fun.
Office olympics can be adopted for small and medium size law firms. Even large law firms can get in on the act by limiting each set of games to office locations, practice areas, or departments, then switching teams for the next olympiad.
Here’s an overview of how we organized our office olympics.
Free lunch! – The games don’t interfere much with billable time. Host the Olympics for three or four days starting on Monday during extended firm-wide or department-wide catered lunches.
Assign teams – Assign members to teams – around 6 members with representatives from each department. You don’t want more than 6-8 teams or else it takes too much time and gets unwieldily. So the total number of participants should top out at around 50.
Name your team – Each team spends the first 10 minutes coming up with a name and slogan. “Shark Tank” is a popular option. I’m partial to our “business casual” group’s slogan “Business in the front. Party in the back.” It was all in the presentation, as you can well imagine.
Day 1: Creativity – We created a structure using straws, spaghetti, tape and string. Points are awarded for height and originality. This could be combined with Day 4’s activity if you prefer to wrap up the competition in 3 days.
Day 2: Brainstorming – Using a How-Now-Wow matrix, each team comes up with creative ideas for the firm and the products and services it offers. Then teams present their ideas. Points are awarded for presentation skills, originality, and viability. Awesome ideas emerge here.
Day 3: Trivia – This is fun, especially for the Jeopardy wannabes among us. Knowledge alone doesn’t procure a win, but also strategy, team work, and leadership, as teams wager points per category and question, with your leader – one is elected for each day of competition – assessing and making a final decision. Organizers, do the research and make sure you have correct answers or it will be done for you…after the competition. And it won’t be pretty.
Day 4: Marketing – Create a structure using a variety of materials like straws, yarn, a moustache (yes, we had to work in a fake moustache – the architects of our games are creative geniuses), tape, whatever. Then have each team present the product along with a marketing strategy. Points are given for originality, viability, and marketing plan.
The Awards Ceremony – This is where it all comes together. The CEO or Managing Partner wraps it up, identifies highlights, discusses top ideas, and awards the winners.
Bonus: Wacky Wordies – We had two teams tied for first on the last day and broke the tie with an awesome 12-minute game: Wacky Wordies.
Office Olympics are especially useful for remote workers to get to know the team and for the team to get to know them. The games also aid inter-departmental camaraderie and facilitates opportunities for working together, an increasingly important flow in today’s workplace. Guarded silos are so last decade.
Tip: Get Slack communication and messaging app up and running before the Olympics and create a channel for discussion. It’ll provide fun interactions and rich engagement.
Go ahead and host an office olympics at your law firm to promote team building, leadership, and a groundswell of ideas. And in the process, you’ll discover natural public speakers and give those that aren’t an opportunity to hone their skills in front of a friendly, familiar audience. A winning formula.