"If you could share an office with anyone who would it be and why?" It was my first team meeting at a new company and the COO, Jon Belmonte, kicked things off with "The Question of the Day". Everyone in the room took a turn and answers ranged from the mundane to the hilarious. I was struck by how well this seemingly simple question helped jump start the process of getting to know my co-workers and set the tone for a meeting where everyone felt comfortable participating.
Fast forward to over 10 years later and we started asking a Question of the Day at all of our Product Development meetings and Sprint Ceremonies here at gap intelligence. Now that we've been asking it regularly for almost a year, I've learned more about my team members than I did in the first two years of working with them combined. With a team split between the United States and Uzebekistan there are a lot of differences, but also a lot of similarities. We've uncovererd shared fears of sharks, musical hobbies, a love of soccer, and much more.
As you might imagine, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with a new/unique question for every meeting but here are a couple of categories that can help:
- Favorites: What's your favorite fruit? Breakfast food? Holiday? Color? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Season?
- Backround/Family: Do you have any siblings? Where did you grow up? If you have kids, what are their names and ages? What language(s) do you speak at home?
- Imagination: If you worked in any industry other than software, what would it be? If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would you pick and why? What would you name your yacht?
- Recent Events: What was the last movie you watched and would you recommend it? What was the last song you listened to? What was the best part of your day yesterday?
- Future Plans: What are you doing over the holiday weekend? What's one place you haven't traveled to yet that you'd like to visit?
- Have you Ever: Gone skydiving? Gotten lost? Eaten insects?
- Would you Rather: …Be covered in spiders or swim with sharks? …Give up your phone for a day or not speak for a week? … Never have internet access again or never be able to take an airplane again?
Sometimes the answers are serious. Sometimes they are silly. Either way, there is always at least one surprise. I won't tell you what we heard when we each talked about our last run-in with the law.
I encourage you to carve out a couple of minutes at the beginning of your meetings to start with a Question of the Day. We've had so much fun with it in our Prod Dev team that it has since spread across the company here at gap intelligence. For large meetings, like the monthly company all-staff, we answer the question in pairs instead of going around the room to all participants.
I can't wait to hear what you ask for your first question. Let me know how it goes with your team!