Washing dirty laundry in public: a real-life example of how we solve social tension in a company with social games

December 6, 2023
Reading time: 3 min

Don't wash your dirty linen in public, they say. But we don't believe that: there is no better way to grow than to open up about your mistakes and learn from them.

About a month ago, we wrote a post about the fierce rivalry between the two developers and how we managed to solve it with healthy competition.

This time it’s about two designers and how we resolved the bad blood between them.

Denis and Mariana have been working in our design team for more than two years. During the third mutual project, they have constantly been quarreling. At first, it seemed like a professional dispute:

Denis is a fan of modern design and always insists on a more minimalistic approach to the user interface. Mariana likes intricate details and user interaction and favors more feature-rich designs. Not a day goes by that they don't argue about it

After that, it spread to everyday topics. Denis began to grumble that tea is healthier than Mariana's favorite coffee, which he which he also drinks from time to time. In turn, Mariana started criticizing him for his sugar consumption... And it kept piling up from there.

At first, their team found their debates funny and sometimes even added fuel to the fire. However, everyone got tired of it as it started to take up a lot of time and the bad vibes started to spread.

One day the team spoke to Victoria, our HR manager, about it. Did she call to punish them? No, she didn't, we don't do that at Smartexe. She organized a game night in the office.

Friendly members of the team told Viktoria that both the designers like to play Mafia (a social deduction game). So it was the night of the mafia!

The aim of the Mafia game is to destroy the mafia. This is a role-playing game that tests your deduction skills. During the game, innocent citizens fight for their survival against gangs with the help of a detective and a doctor.

Denis and Mariana "accidentally" ended up in the same boat – they got roles of mafia. Since both had the will to win, they had to negotiate. Probably for the first time in the last few months, they began to listen to each other. Then cooperating. Then winning.

The next day's sprint planning session saw a remarkable transformation. Denys proposed the idea, and Mariana, recognizing its potential, proposed a detailed implementation plan. The team breathed a sigh of relief; finally, work is back to normal.

Although we were very optimistic about the night of the game, the result exceeded our expectations. It seems that both Denys and Mariana were able to see how senseless their enmity is.

Debates that were once contentious have now become a source of inspiration and creativity, injecting positive energy into the team and boosting productivity.

They still argue from time to time, but then we yell at them: Shut up Mafia! And they settle.

How do you handle difficult conversations? Are you as passionate as we are about building and maintaining happy organic teams?

Looking to add an extremely friendly, organic development team to your company? Give us a ping.