How to Compete & Win at Sumo Logic
The UX team at Sumo Logic has one unifying love: games! We play games to unwind at the end of the week, to take a break between swarming activities, to complement lunch. Any type of game is fair game (ha) and the typical question when starting all activities is:
How do you win?
At the root of this love for board/video/card games, there is a deep-seated desire for competition. We harness this desire to devise slightly silly competitions that end up being very serious.
This fall, after noticing our VP’s fantastic sock game, we decided upon a sock-off. Each day would have a superlative, and everyone who entered into the contest would post their socks into a Slack channel. The socks had to match, except for the last day which was a wild card theme. At the end of the day, after some trash talk and hype, we’d vote. The prizes were, unsurprisingly, more Stance socks.
Day 1: Most Ridiculous
Day 2: Most Festive/Seasonal/Holiday
Day 3: Best Pattern
Day 4: Most Flashy/Obnoxious
Day 5: WILD CARD DAY!
Sock-off winners with new socks!
One of our other competitions was more of a psychological test without a clear-cut winner. There are many high-achieving individuals who wear uniforms to work each day. Think Barack Obama with his blue and gray suits, Steve Jobs with his black turtleneck, Zuckerberg with his hoodie. The rationale for this is often cognitive offloading: if you don’t have to make decisions about your wardrobe each morning, you have more time to think about other things. Zuckerberg’s ambitions with his hard-won time are loftier than ours:
“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
We merely wanted to see how four weeks of wearing a uniform would affect our productivity and mood. Our uniform challenge shaped up like this: gray or black top (one color for duration of experiment), dark bottoms and these Vans in a neutral shade. Jewelry, accessories and outerwear could be changed daily.
We wrote down how we were feeling while getting dressed during the week before, the four weeks of the competition and the week after. Everyone gave both qualitative and quantitative feedback on their feelings. The quantitative feedback was on our usual 1–7 scale, with 1 being extremely stressed and 7 being completely carefree. The qualitative feedback was in the form of a few adjectives.
Most people had a little stress with a typical morning’s decisions around an outfit. The mean score was a 4.8, indicating a slight lean toward the carefree end of the spectrum.
There was a bit of scurrying around as people arrange their wardrobes. Many people created stacks of the shirts they would wear each week. The scores soared, as everyone was at a 6 or 7 by the end of the first week. A few people completely gave up on the challenge by day 3, but everyone else was in it for the long haul. Typical adjectives to describe the process of choosing an outfit include relieving, fast, comfortable.
Everyone was feeling pretty good about this. Morning routines were faster and there wasn’t much thought involved. There was relief in not having to think about what to wear the next day, and no one felt self-conscious about repeating outfits because we were all repeating outfits. Scores were still high- nearly uniformly 6s and 7s, and typical adjectives were convenient, routine-y.
This is where it all started going downhill. At around mid-week, several people began citing a frustration with the uniform. It was becoming tedious, and other parts of the wardrobe were calling. Scores slid to the 3s and 4s. This was no longer fun, and the typical words were ennui, lackluster, uninspired.
Everyone could see the end, and we waited patiently. The only two people who were not suffering were those who continue the uniform challenge, more or less, to this day. Scores rebounded slightly from the previous week, to the 4–5 range, but morale was still poor. Typical words were final, celebratory, over it.
In the immediate week following the competition, meetings were joyful and the general feel was more cheerful. Everyone was wearing different colors and choosing an outfit no longer felt like drudgery.
As far as our learnings from this, there were evident reductions in morning stress. Nearly everyone felt a sense of relief in knowing that their outfit was chosen and socially approved. However, the uniform eventually felt too confining and that irritated everyone just as much. The next time we try it, I think we will do a less rigorous uniform and perhaps try a capsule instead. This preserves the minimal decision-making and time-saving, and allows you to start with a bunch of clothes that you love.
Also, now that we’re several months out from the uniform challenge, we still tend to dress alike. Tech uniform, I guess.