Teams of people including students, interns, software application developers, QA testers and more from around the world competed recently in the third annual CS50 Puzzle Day, sponsored by Harvard University. CS50 is a Harvard-developed academic course that explores the theory of computer science, its purpose and intent and while the competition was originally created for students, it now attracts a global following of those interested in improving collaboration and analytical thinking for software application development and QA testing.
Software Application Development and a Global Game of Mastermind
At midnight on Friday, March 9, 2018, more than three thousand people from around the world broke into teams to tackle eight different puzzles created by Harvard University professor, David Malan. Malan is the man who developed CS50 as a way of making computer science understandable to everyone, regardless of their prior knowledge of how computers operate. The unintended outcome of his breakthrough course was how the puzzle games are helping software application development teams think differently and collaborate more effectively
The teams had until the stroke of midnight on Monday, March 12 to complete the eight puzzles. Among those teams were three from Optimus Information’s location in Noida, India, made up of interns and experienced software application developers and QA testers.
The Optimus teams quickly realized that computer programming skills were not required. What was required of them was the ability to think logically, using their intelligence.
Anil Kumar Saini led one of the teams. He said they spent the first day – a full 24 hours – working on the puzzle questions at the office and then continued to work from their homes throughout the weekend, staying in contact with each other the entire time.
“We had no idea what to expect”, he said, “so, we watched videos online to prepare. While the first levels were simple, they became progressively more difficult and we realized that none of us could solve these problems working in silos.”
Building Collaborative Skills
Saini decided his team needed to reach out for assistance, so he contacted fellow Optimus employee, Swapnil Kumar and his team. Both teams began to collaborate on the problems before them.
What was interesting was that neither Saini nor Kumar really knew each other at Optimus. Kumar says he and Anil worked in separate areas of the company and never interacted, day to day.
“But the puzzle competition meant that we had to collaborate with each other. The benefit was that we were able to tap into each team’s diverse ways of looking at the same problem. The result meant we expanded our thinking beyond our normal, work-related problem solving. And Anil and I have now become good friends, as a result.”
Anil Saini added that the competition had the effect of leveling the playing field among the team members. “It didn’t matter if some of us were experienced software application development or QA testing team members and others were interns; it provided equal opportunity for all and everyone contributed to getting the right answers. It was a true collaborative experience.”
A Lasting Impact
Their collaboration worked so well that the Optimus teams finished with every puzzle solved correctly; one of their teams even cracked the coveted top thirty. More than this, though, is how the experience has affected the team members when they now engage in their projects at work.
Mayank Varshney was one of the Optimus participants in the quiz. He saw an immediate impact on his role in QA testing.
“Participating in this team approach has altered how we think analytically, now. In my work, I test the functionalities of our software and now I’m looking at different approaches where Optimus can deliver even greater quality to our clients. This is a direct result of my experience in the competition.”
This was exactly what Optimus had hoped would happen when the company encouraged its employees and interns in Noida to take part. The participants pushed each other to think outside the box and seek different methods to solve the problems posed by the eight puzzles.
They did just that and the impact of utilizing different ways of tackling a problem has changed the way these Optimus employees are now functioning in their own roles within the company.
Optimus Information is built on its employees and its success reflects the depth of talent the company harnesses on a daily basis to create value for its clients.
Contact us today and we’ll tell you more about how collaborative thinking can generate breakthrough solutions that will propel your business forward.