The Beer Garden

Team Building

Frog was with his marketing team.

Toad came walking by.

“What a fine team you have, Frog,” he said, “they are always cheerful, and making jokes, and going out for long boozy lunches. They seem so happy to be working together.”

“Yes,” said Frog, “they are fun, but it was hard work to build such a cohesive group.”

“I wish my engineering team liked to spend time with each other,” said Toad.

“Here is our foosball table,” said Frog, “put this in your common area and soon you will have a cohesive team.”

“How soon?” asked Toad.

“Quite soon,” said Frog.

Toad dragged the table back to where his engineering team sat.

He put the foosball table in the middle of the kitchen, next to the keg and the basket of fresh fruits and the Nescafe.

“Now team,” he said, “start having fun together!”

Toad walked back and forth a bit.

The engineers in his team didn’t move. They all kept their headphones on and their eyes on their dual monitor workstations.

Toad walked to the middle of the room. “Now everyone,” he yelled, “let’s make this a real team!”

Toad wonders why his team won’t play foosball.

Toad looked around again. His programmers were all still in their seats.

Toad put his head very close to his lead architect. “C’MON GUYS” he shouted, “I GOT US A FOOSBALL TABLE.” His architect gave him a dead look, put his headphones back on his head, and returned to his work.

Frog came walking around the corner. “What is all this shouting,” he asked.

“My team will not have fun,” said Toad.

“You are shouting too much,” said Frog. “Your poor programmers are afraid to have fun.”

“My programmers are afraid to have fun?” asked Toad.

“Of course,” said Frog. “Leave them alone for a few days. Let them finish a sprint or two. Keep them at the office late to work on a few deadlines. Soon they will become a real team.”

That night, Toad looked out the door of his office at the darkened cubicle farm where the engineering team sat.

“Drat!” said Toad. “My programmers have not yet formed a team! They must be afraid of having fun.”

Toad went out into his team’s area with some ideas. “I will give my team perks,” said Toad, “and then they will have no excuse for not having fun together as a team.”

So Toad had matching t-shirts made for the entire team.

All the next day Toad challenged each of his engineers one by one to public games of foosball.

And all the next day Toad gave his engineers gift passes for massages at the shopping complex around the corner.

And all the next day Toad gave his engineers copies of the latest O’Reilly pamphlet about team dynamics in startups.

Toad looked around. His engineers still did not want to have fun as a team.

“What shall I do?” cried Toad. “These must be the most timid, frightened, anti-social engineers in the whole world!”

Then Toad decided to go meet Frog at a bar for a drink.

Toad and Frog were standing at the bar, when Frog said, “Toad, Toad, look!” and he pointed out to the beer garden that was outside the back of the bar.

Toad looked at the beer garden.

There, sitting around a long table, with beers in their hands, was his whole engineering team. This appeared to be something they did regularly. Toad could hear a few of them making jokes about the foosball table.

“At last,” shouted Toad, “my engineers have stopped being afraid to have fun! They are forming a team!”

“And now you will have a nice, fun team too,” said Frog.

“Yes,” said Toad, “but you were right, Frog. It was very hard work.”