Heineken’s New Political Ad

“Heineken’s New Political Ad” was originally published on the Scrum Alliance website on May 9, 2017: https://www.scrumalliance.org/community/articles/2017/may/heineken-s-new-political-ad-(1).aspx
Heineken’s new political ad sells beer, not teamwork.
In case you haven’t seen it, beer manufacturer Heineken recently released an ad that uses political division as a marketing platform, to great effect. The political ad features three pairs of people, each with strongly held opposing views. There’s the climate-change denier with the environmentalist, the feminist with the alt-rightie, and the transgender woman with a man who strongly believes in the gender binary.

The reaction online to the ad, at least among my left-leaning friends, has been very positive — far more than the reaction to Pepsi’s appropriative Kendall Jennings ad. People resonate with the Heineken ad and the message of unity, and the ad will probably sell some imported beer.

But what Heineken is selling isn’t beer. It’s teamwork and cooperation.

The pairs of participants are given a set of instructions that start with “Put together some Ikea furniture.” A basic, if possibly frustrating, teamwork exercise in which they are forced to cooperate to successfully build something. Next, they’re given space to sit and get to know each other in an icebreaker format. The questions aren’t political. They’re positive things like, “What do we have in common?” and “Describe yourself in five words.”

Those of us who have run any kind of training exercise are familiar with both of these exercises. The first is a fairly intense team-building exercise. The second is a get-to-know-you networking moment, which is designed to build rapport with strangers — useful in team building as well as sales training.

They then have another build exercise: this time adding a bar top to the table and chairs they’ve built, and then finding a frosty Heineken hidden nearby. (As a side note: I hope that the second iteration of building is easier and faster than the first!)

Finally, after building all this rapport, the participants are shown videos wherein they describe their deeply held political beliefs, and they are invited to either walk away or sit down and talk it out over a beer.

Since this is a beer commercial, and Heineken isn’t airing the participants who didn’t sit down for a beer, we then see the participants do exactly that and come to some understanding of each other. As professional team builders, I am sure we’re familiar with the importance of creating rapport and doing cooperative exercises to build teams.

Assuming that they didn’t script everything, I’d be interested to know how many “failed pairs” Heineken had when they were filming. My guess is, with two team exercises and an icebreaker, not many.

Scrum Master Interview – What a Relief

Stephanie on scrum master interview dayI just had a terrific scrum master interview with a local company, and it was a huge relief! Not because the job is terrific (although I’m sure it will be if I get it), but because the hiring process has me meeting with the product owners and current scrum master in my first interview. I’m not meeting with executives or even the functional manager– at this stage, the company doesn’t even know who the my functional manager might be, because they haven’t decided which team would be the best fit!

I’ve had quite a few Scrum Master interviews in the past 2 months, and I can tell you– most people hiring scrum masters don’t know what they do. That’s usually fine– as a technical writer, I have coached hiring managers on how to interview me and other writers, even during the interview process. But when I come into an interview and I’m talking to product owners and scrum masters who want me to tell them how my last team worked, and demonstrate how I approached that role? That’s a huge relief.

A little bit of knowledge went a long way today. When we talk about “culture fit,” we usually often talk about work/life balance, office wardrobe, and whether there’s a ping pong table in the cafeteria. But for me, culture fit is about how much I have to push to get people to understand what I’m talking about. I don’t mind coaching, and a scrum master is always going to have a lot of opportunities to help the team learn and improve.

But I really love it when the company is already on that path, and I no longer have to explain what I do, just how I do it so well during the interview.

Training Game to Build Teamwork

Here’s a 10-minute training game you can do with visual learners to build teamwork.

Setup the Training Game

Sort into small groups of 2-3 people.

Distribute 1 piece of paper per group and 1 pen or marker per person– no erasers! Remind players to keep their content PG. Otherwise, tell them there is no “bad” drawing in this exercise.

Start the Training Game

One person draws a basic symbol or shape on a piece of paper. Pass the paper to the next player in the group.

The next player adds something to the drawing. Pass the paper to the next player.

Finish the Training Game

Repeat for 8 minutes. Players may talk to each other during this exercise. See if a story emerges. Players may not erase or undo any element in the drawing. Pick one team to explain their drawing and the process.

Learning Objective of the Training Game

Teams build on each others’ work to make something greater than one individual could do alone. By passing the page back and forth several times, team members also see incremental improvement during the development of the final drawing.

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