This is why team-building events happen, whether it be a weekend at the beach or an annual sportsfest, or whatever. But a lot of companies tend to forget the greatest team-building opportunity of all: lunch. And it makes great sense to turn lunch into team-building opportunities; however people tend to eat with the same group every day. If there are empty seats but each table is filled with a clique, people would sometimes rather eat out.
Kickstarter realized this possibility early on, especially with a diverse and eclectic group of employees which included funeral directors, radio hosts, chefs, teachers, projectionists, dungeon masters, hackers, artists, photographers, and musicians. They decided fix monthly random lunch groups to mix people from different teams. In addition, if the groups went out for a walk and found a new place to eat, Kickstarter would pick up the tab.
However, to optimize this Lunch Roulette (as they have termed it), they would have to make sure that:
• A group can’t contain more than 3 people that have had lunch before,
• Can’t contain more than one executive,
• And can’t contain more than one person with the same specialty
Thinking about all of this for multiple groups can be quite exhausting, so Shannon Ferguson, director of HR, who was tasked to do these MANUALLY, took up Fred Benneson’s offer to automate all of it in a computer program. After weeks of spare time, Fred came up with an algorithm he was proud of. It’s been used for 6 months, and everybody’s been happy with it.
Now I won’t get into all of the mathematical mumbo jumbo (you can get all of that from here if you’re interested), but I will tell you that Fred has published this algorithm for free on GitHub. Click here, enjoy and have a great lunch.