Dev team building offsite in Montanejos


The whole team composed of both Valencia and Boston offices went to spend a couple of days together in a small village called Montanejos (located in the Valencian Community, Spain). The purpose of the get together was to do some team building activities and have fun. This is a brief summary of what we did.

Origami

We broke into pairs, in which one person ( the manager ) had origami instructions and the other one ( the builder ) had a blank standard sized paper sheet. The game proceeded in three rounds, where each one had different rules:

  • In the first round, both members sit back to back and the manager had to give instructions to the builder in order to build a figure in three minutes.
  • In the next round, members sit in front of each other. The builder still could not see the instructions and the the manager could still provide feedback to the builder.
  • In the final round, both manager and builder could see the instructions. And after building the first figure new instructions were given to both.

In this game we learnt that better results and quality are achieved through collaboration, and that although verbal communication helps it isn’t as helpful as having visual maps.

Origami first round
Origami first round

External agents in applications

For the second session, we broke into a few groups of 4 or 5 people to brainstorm all of the actors that are impacted by peerTransfer. The groups didn’t only identified all of the obvious actors, such as students, parents, and school administrators, but also some less-obvious players, such as our family members, the people who manage our offices, and our tech partners like Amazon.

With a thorough list of actors posted on the wall using sticky notes, we all together discussed what motivates each actor to be involved with PeerTransfer. It was easy to indicate some reasons related to finance - why Amazon wants our business. However, the drivers for parents, students and schools were much more nuanced. We discussed the complexity of the relationships and the importance of being empathetic when building products

Jason posting actors on the wall
Jason posting actors on the wall

Ball game

This is a game to exercise team building using fun balls. There were five rules:

  1. Create a process to give and receive the ball in your team
  2. You can’t pass the ball to the person next to you
  3. The ball must return to the place where it started
  4. The ball must travel through the air
  5. The ball can’t be rolled across anything.

Before each round we had to give an estimation on how many balls we would get out and back into the basket. After estimating we had two minutes to accomplish our task. Between rounds each team had one minute to discuss and to try to improve their process.

Team values

Another exercise we did was writing down values that the team already has or wishes to have. We were given five minutes to write them down and then post them on the wall grouped in clouds according to similar topics.

In teams, up to three people, we talked about the identified topics, one topic per team. Each team discussed one topic, and after some time, we got together and each team shared what they discussed.

Rafting

After having a proper lunch, we went rafting down the Mijares river. This river has a difficulty level of 4 according to the International Scale of River Difficulty, so we had some supervisors in order to have fun and reduce any possible risks.

We splitted into three teams to fit into the boats. After receiving some safety instructions we jumped into the boats and started rafting down the river. Although it was sunny, the water was chilly but the neoprene suit prevented us to get cold.

Along the river, there was a three meters waterfall that we rafted down in the rock and roll position in order to don’t fall out the boat and don’t hurt any teammate.

Dev team prepared to do rafting
Dev team prepared to do rafting

Hiking

In order to wrap up the team building offsite we hiked through the SL-162 route called Senda de la Bojera. We spend the whole Saturday morning hiking almost all the team, crossing the Mijares river jumping over the stones in half way. Before coming back to the hotel and having lunch, we headed to Fuente los Baños where we swam for a few minutes as the weather and water were perfect to do it.

Crossing Mijares river
Crossing Mijares river

Before going back to Valencia we had a delicious barbecue that included different types of meat, like lamb chops, “chorizo”, “morcilla” and pigtail.

The whole experience was amazing. It helped getting closer to other members of the team, specially the ones that joined the team recently and the ones we don’t get to see every day.