Tech Talk | Adepto’s Game-Changing Way of Building Teams

Courtney Morrison

Adepto’s product and engineering team has seen rapid growth over the past 12-18 months, more than doubling in size and scaling across the world. The original team, based in Brisbane Australia, has pioneered many of the working practices that have become fundamental to Adepto’s culture.

Knowing when to have a break

We enjoy our work, but also know when to take time out. For the Brisbane team, this has translated in a rather novel way. We have invented our very own version of “handball” that we play multiple times a day. No, we aren’t talking about the Olympic “European handball”, this game is based off of a traditional Australian schoolyard game that most of us grew up playing as kids.

Whenever someone needs a break or an energy boost, a game is called and all team members have the option to participate or continue on with their work.

Explaining handball

The game takes place in the office near 3 walls, one of which is covered by a long whiteboard. The cement floor is marked roughly to create a grid of 8 squares. The squares are marked top to bottom and everyone stands in a specific square. Each round the ball is bounced off walls, whiteboards and in occupied squares and one by one players get “out” falling from top to bottom. If you get out in the bottom most square, you are eliminated. Last person standing wins.

Since it began, the rules of the game have been adapted by several team members to make it more advanced. Anyone can suggest a rule-change with others deciding whether to test it out and include it. One such rule was the ability to bounce the ball off of the office’s walls and whiteboard. As players become more skilled (and some of the longest-serving team members are enviably so!) the gameplay can adapt to constantly test the team. For example, the ball has been recently swapped out for a smaller, bouncier alternative. In response, in-game alliances have proven to be a necessary survival strategy.

Creating a close-knit team

The game offers a creative way for the team to bond, cooperate, compete and ultimately become a more cohesive unit. It also provides a break during the day and a way to reset. This is especially important given the nature of our roles. It’s very easy to get consumed by a screen for hours without resting your eyes or mind.

Iterative improvement

Another side of Adepto’s culture is illustrated through the game: Iterative improvement. Anyone can suggest new ways of working, tools to test, developments to be aware of and – of course – handball strategies and rule changes. To foster Adepto’s innovative nature, we believe that everyone should have the autonomy to think for themselves, offer recommendations and own their work. Everyone understands that they can take moderate risks and experiment without repercussion. The ability to safely challenge others ideas, and put forward your own is good for the game of handball, and Adepto.

Part of Adepto’s culture

This is an essential part of working within the Brisbane office and one of many habits and rituals that set us apart. Ensuring every individual at Adepto is on their own path of improvement is the best way we can ensure Adepto is as well. Evidence of this can be found in many places: A value share during a retrospective, a discussion on lesson learnt following a product release or the recent rule addition of one extra life for all players on a Friday, used to maintain position in your favourite square.

By: Joel Luther, Head of Product

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