Tesseract

All things future tech, team building, & SciFi. Posts by the team behind Reason.

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Upping your Escape Game and Puzzles with Lumosity

Lumosity Engineering @Reason

Last week, we hosted the engineering team from Lumosity. This San Francisco based startup builds a brain training app using puzzles and games. Over 85 million people worldwide use the app to challenge their core cognitive abilities; from memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving. Some may even use it to prepare for an escape room game!

Lumosity in the house!

Posted by Reason on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What is unique about Lumosity as a company is that neuroscientists work side-by-side with game designers. They have brought 50+ games to life so far. They also work with 100+ external scientists worldwide to advance the understanding of human cognition. When asked about game design, Eli Delventhal, who leads the engineering team comments:

On the Lumosity games team, we’re constantly thinking of different ways to challenge each other and our users. This means that the REASON escape room was a great group outing for us! The puzzles and trials in the room felt very familiar to the games we put in front of our users: varied, challenging, and fun

– Eli Delventhal , Lumosity

Brain working out and flexing it's puzzle solving muscles.
Drop and give me 10… words that rhyme with the word orange.

Puzzles at Lumosity

Lumosity creates experimental challenges by transforming established neurological tasks into various game mechanics. Upon exploring team members’ favorite games types, we discovered that Tyler Hinman is not only a beloved member of the engineering team, but that he is also an expert crossword solver and constructor! He is the five-time winner of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT). He also holds the tournament record for youngest champion ever (Hinman won as a 20-year-old in 2005)! We asked Tyler if he had some professional tips about crosswords.

People assume that they need to know huge amounts of vocabulary and trivia to be good at crosswords. Those don’t hurt, but these days it’s much more about reading and thinking about the clues in a more readily associative, open-minded way, and that ability comes with practice. So no need to read the dictionary; just keep solving crosswords and you will improve.

– Tyler Hinman, Lumosity

Puzzles at Reason

A Reason, we design our real escape games to physically challenge the brain just as Lumosity does with their popular app. We place players in a varied, challenging, and fun environments. In addition, we encourage players to openly associate relevant information, clues, and puzzles to complete our escape games. At the same time, we also sprinkle a bit of new technologies for players to interact with as well; and maybe garner a positive dopamine response.

For more information about brain training, visit Lumosity.com

Note: This blog post originally appeared on March 29, 2017, and has been migrated over to Tesseract.

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Team Building – Top 10 Reasons Why People Avoid It

When the words “team building” come up, many people have a wide range of emotions. They range from utter dread to a feeling of darkness only rivaled by the depths of the Marianas Trench. Team building events are a common activity in any company, so it is not an issue of unfamiliarity.

In addition, if participants in a team building activity are not engaged or excited, it is likely this sense of dread will prevail. Thus, we must break the cycle. So we set out to understand the lack of enthusiasm for team building when we designed our future tech escape rooms. Below is what we found. We are presenting it in the universally accepted and scientific medium of gifs.

Wrestler holds up the number 10.
We have 10 reasons for you.

1. TEAM building is boring

Uninterested dog involved in a one way game of fetch with a blue frisbee.
Nope. Just nope.

2. Meyers Briggs

Man gets anxious and feels his face melting off after he hears about the Meyers Briggs test.
Ok. I get it. I’m an introvert!

3. Lame Ice Breakers

Woman expressing her lack of time to engage in lame company ice-breakers.
Icebreakers? How old are we?

4. Everyone ends up sitting on the chair the whole time.

Bored cat sitting on chair and not engaging with other cat.
Hey. Wayd?

5. Activity has no direct application to the team or company.

Horse race with odd horses and riders to show how team building events usually are not useful since they do not relate to real life & work.
This all makes sense.

6. The team is so awesome that there cannot be any possible room for improvement.

Power Rangers looking cool and posing to show how a highly effective team organizes for a nostalgic 80s TV show.
If we’re good, we’ll get Zords too, right?

7. The team is so terrible that there cannot be any possible room for improvement.

Trust fall gone terribly wrong.
Wait for the drop.

8. Someone always ends up hogging all the fun.

Adventurer running through dungeons and killing creeps while a teammate hangs back and loots treasures.
Hey can do you mind slowing down a bit? Busy looting back here.

9. Activities are not challenging.

Morgan Freeman about to take on the most challenging situation in his career yet...
The tension is palpable.

10. Never heard of Reason’s future technology escape rooms.

Puzzles Jon Snow looks to his iPhone as he first discovers Reason's team building offerings.
You know nothing, Jon Snow,

Book Your Team Building Event at Reason Today, and you can be as awesome as Godzilla riding an ATV.

Godzilla having a great time driving a ATV across the desert catching some air time.
Out of my way you warm-blooded primates!

OK, maybe not as cool as Godzilla off-roading, but you can come close. Bonus points if you arrive at Reason with a Godzilla costume.

Different Project Management Methodologies Visualized

Does your team use any of these project management methodologies? Parts of each methodology can be applies to different teams and functions.

Take a look at the picture first before we talk; about each methodology.

Visual example of how teams work with different methodologies.
Different ways to do get to do the same thing? Let me put that on the board.

What is Project Management, and why is it important?

Project management helps business leaders and managers utilize all available resources to complete a project. It does so by creating a structures and a processes.

Effective teams not only work well as a result of each team member’s skills, but as a direct result of the environment they work in. Project management directly impacts the work environment and shapes how team members work with each other by defining the objectives and methods used to complete the project.

Different Project Management Methodologies

WateRFall

Waterfall methodology is the most common and easiest to understand out of the other methodologies in this post. In a Waterfall project, everything is linear and everything is in sequential order. One must complete A before B. B must be completed before C. D must be completed before E, and so on.

In short, a manager can create a list of all the steps required to achieve a goal. Afterwards, the manager can direct the team start working from the top of the list and work their way down.

Waterfall works really well in situations where there is not a lot of change. It works especially well when a team can copy the task list from previous projects and use it on current projects with little changes. This can occur in the construction or manufacturing industry.

However, when situation or goals change constantly the Waterfall methodology becomes more difficult to implement and follow. The initial task list might need to be revised. Tasks might need to be inserted, removed, updated, or split. What used to be in order might now be out of order, and some tasks need to be redone as the goals have changed.

This is a good time to take a look at some other methologies.

Agile

Agile project management puts great weight on continuous improvement. Since the end goal is not static or not 100% set in stone, it is possible for goals to change as time progresses. This is not to say that project start without goals, but rather, the goals are made knowing that improvement in continuous. The end goal might look different a few weeks from now.

KanBAn

A Toyota engineer came up with the idea of Kanban. The general idea is that instead of hustling to get everything completed all at once so it can be shipped, certain portion of the project can remain unfinished and completed until they are needed; just-in-time.

The team must have defined the workflow and the tasks necessary to completing the project. In the workflow, there must be clear stages so that tasks can move from one stage to the other. One stage can be: No Action, In Progress, Final Touches, and Finished.

Tasks can be visualized as cards. In addition, groups of cards in each stage can be visualized as a stack of cards. Trello is a good tool to get a Kanban board started.

Lean

Lean aims to reduce waster and redundant work by standardizing output and ensuring the entire process is operating efficiently.

With Lean, work is broken up into small portions that can be completed individually. Each task also has a process or flow. For example, the processes can be: planning, design, production, testing, and shipping.

By specifying the processes, a team can follow the processes, complete each portion of the project properly, and finish on time. One should note that Kanban is technically a scheduling aspect of Lean, but it can be helpful for teams to implement as a stand-alone methodology so small scale projects.

Scrum

Scrum is one of the most structured methodologies. It goes further than Agile and Lean and defines different roles and meetings. The project first starts with a clear vision and a list of features in order of importance. The team picks features out of that list that it believes that it can complete during a sprint. A sprint lasts between two to four weeks.

During the sprint, the scrum master protects the team from interruptions and blockers so the team can focus. There are also daily check-ins in the form of a 15 minute meeting. During the meeting, each team member talks about what he or she did yesterday, what they are going to do today, and what is blocking them.

At the end of the sprint, the team holds a meeting to reflect on what to improve, so the next sprint can be more productive. This is a very simplified description of Scrum, and if this is interesting, there are many more resources out there to dive into!

Conclusion

Teams must complete projects. With finite time and resources, how one works is as important as how the team works. These project management methodologies all serve the purpose of helping us work smarter. At the same time, a misapplied or a poorly implemented project management methodology might drastically reduce overall productivity and effectiveness. Do you have any stories to share? Let us know!

Suggested Reading

Sources

https://toggl.com/project-management-methodologies

https://zapier.com/learn/project-management/project-management-systems

http://www.dummies.com/careers/project-management/agile-project-management-for-dummies-cheat-sheet/

https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-project-management-scrum-6269

An escape room blog? Are you sure about that?

Intro

Hello! It’s been almost a year and a half since Reason first opened the public, and it’s about time we started a blog. Why a blog? Well, we come across very interesting teams from different backgrounds at our future tech escape rooms every day, and we are also a small business learning new things regularly. We think a blog is to a good way to think about what we’ve learned and share it with others.

Which brings us to: what is all this, then? What is Tesseract? Is this a blog about escape rooms?

A picture of a tesseract, representing the intersection of tech, people, and teams.
A picture of a tesseract, representing the intersection of tech, people, and teams. That would be a great escape room setup btw.

 

Purpose

Tesseract is a blog. In this blog, we will share short insights on cool new tech, things that inspire us, team building tidbits that we think will be valuable, and anything else related to Reason. The combination of these ideas and topics brings us to the Tesseract.

So in other words, this is not a blog strictly focussed on escape rooms and escape games. The topics covered here will be much broader. Sometimes we will talk about escape rooms. Sometimes we will talk about Pickle Rick. There are so many other exciting topics to cover! Wubba lubba dub dub.

For example, some ideas for future posts are: new technologies that are on the cusp of being released to the general public that we think would be change an aspect of daily life. Guest posts from high-performing teams that have come through Reason that talk about what they do at work that encourages effective team work, and how they recruit, develop, and retain talent to build out their teams. Other fun potential topics include cool gift ideas for the techy friend, and games/movies that we think are worth playing or watching. If that doesn’t seem engaging enough, maybe a review of the entire Star Wars universe after watching all of the movies back to back would suit the most discerning reader. However, in which order to watch the movies might be a blog post all on its own.

Conclusion

Our core business is corporate events, and our interests are future tech and sci-fi. In addition, we do corporate team building events at our future tech escape rooms in San Francisco. Everyday we come across interesting team and learn new things. It is our intention to share our thoughts and learnings with you in this blog.

Tesseract All things future tech, team building, & SciFi. Posts by the team behind Reason.

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