The Parcel Game

Volume 17 Letter 12

Like many families, during the holidays we gather together with friends and devour wayyyyy too much food. This year was no different and afterward we relaxed and played games, one of them being “The Parcel Game”.
The parcel game is very simple. In the middle of the room is a giant, gift wrapped package tied up with string and beside it, a pair of dice. No one knows what’s inside other than “it’s a prize” and the bigger the box …well the better the prize must be. To get the prize you must observe a few rules.

First, we all sit in a circle around the parcel and taking turns throwing the dice. To get a crack at opening the parcel you first must roll seven, eleven or doubles. Those lucky enough to roll the required dice combination must then don oven mitts, sunglasses and a silly hat. Once “dressed” in this ridiculous garb you can pick up a very dull butter knife and a spoon (with the oven mitts on) and use them to unwrap the layers of paper and string which hide the prize………That is until someone else in the crowd rolls seven, eleven or doubles at which point you must relinquish the whole outfit to that person who then begins their quest to claim the coveted reward.

At the start of the game everyone kneels on the carpet as in some ritual prayer to the parcel but really it’s so we can easily pass around the dice. Those who know the game are anxious to play, others reluctantly join in, while a few say they’ll only watch. However even the most reluctant are encouraged to kneel on the floor “just to watch” because we know once the fun begins they’ll join in ……….. they always do. The game always starts slowly but within a few minutes it’s total bedlam.

I’m sure you’ve guessed that the giant box actually contains many boxes all fitted into each other like a Russian doll. Each smaller box is also wrapped in paper and string presenting each challenger with ….well another challenge. Some years there are candies or chocolates that fly out from between the layers. Often players “help” the others with donning and removing the hat and gloves. Eventually after much dice rolling, screaming, paper tearing and sawing some lucky person wins what can only be described as an “underwhelming” prize. This year’s winner won a tin of smoked oysters.

So why the silly story about our family game? There are important lessons from this holiday story that we can apply to our businesses as we plan for 2018…

  1. Make it fun: Our businesses are like the giant parcel – make it fun to unwrap it and people will give you their best and more
  2. It’s the journey not just the prize: The prize is important but it’s really the getting there – the friendships and comradery that make it so worthwhile.
  3. Give your team proper tools: If you want to successfully execute a business strategy don’t make your people put on oven mitts, sunglasses a hat and give them a dull knife and a spoon. Give them the proper tools and training so they can do their jobs well.
  4. Make it competitive but keep it fun: People want to be challenged but in a friendly supportive way. Cheer for each other – leave the cut throat stuff to competitors who will consistently see high staff turn over rates.
  5. Involve everyone: Some won’t want to participate initially but engage everyone in developing the strategy. Not everyone gets to set the “what” (the goals) but everyone gets to help set the “how” (their part of the strategy)
  6. Stay focused on the prize and enjoy the journey.

In 2018 wrap the box, (set what you want to accomplish). Supply the tools (training, systems and metrics) so your team can succeed. Invite everyone to join in on the fun by developing together how you’ll accomplish your goals (strategy) and who will be responsible for what (execution).

Happy New Year Everyone!

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