A Search of a Different Sort: Search Mojo's Amazing Race

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Dec 13, 2010
More Articles by Janet

At least once a year, we try at Search Mojo to hold team building events. It’s a great way for new people to find out exactly the kind of potentially crazy people they may be working with. :)

All kidding aside, when it came time for me to plan this year’s team building event, I was stumped. A friend suggested a scavenger hunt around our small town, Charlottesville, Va. I thought that was a great way to help our employees learn more about our town while we also worked on team building, so I set out to create Search Mojo’s version of The Amazing Race.

I found a great application called SCVNGR that works with both iPhones and Android phones. Keeping the plan a secret until race day, I secretly created four teams: Team Tad, Team Kaitlyn, Team Avelyn and Team Chris. I set up each team’s SCVNGR account online and made the teams friends of each other so that they would be able to track each others’ progress throughout the day on race day.

Next, I set up specific locations and challenges for each location. SCVNGR has multiple ways you can create a challenge, but in our case, for most challenges, I had the teams take pictures via the SCVNGR app of the challenge they had been given. For instance, at the Wild Wing Cafe, teams had to eat six hot wings and take a picture of the bones. Each challenge was assigned a point value, based on difficulty and distance, on a scale of 2-5. The team with the most points at the end of the day would be the winners, and as a prize, the winning team would get $300/person. The challenges were very easy to set up at my desktop (I didn’t have to visit each location to set up the hunt).

On Friday, I took the team to lunch, and after lunch I handed each team a packet. The packet contained some essential items for each team: activity waivers, the rules, instructions for downloading the SCVNGR app, tips on how to get the most points at each location, and $200 in cash to use for the activities and challenges.

The teams could do the challenges and visit locations in any order. At each location, they needed to check in and perform the challenge.

Did it help the teams bond?

I have to say, the scavenger hunt worked even better than I anticipated to help teams work together, strategize, and adjust strategy throughout the day. With the SCVNGR app, each team could keep track of where the other teams were and watch the leaderboard throughout the day. It was amazing to see how teams changed their strategy. For instance, Team Chris was in the lead most of the day, but in the last hour, teams started creating “alliances” to try to pull ahead. In the end, it was an alliance with another team that led Team Tad to victory.

Did we have fun?

You bet. At the end of the day, I asked all of the teams if they would like to do another scavenger hunt in the future, and the answer was a resounding “yes”.

What I’d Change for Next Time

First, I’d add more locations. In about four hours, we were all able to get to all of the locations, although just barely. Adding more challenges and locations would force teams to pick and choose their challenges more carefully — weighing point value versus distance to travel. In this event, we had about 15 challenges. I’d likely double that next time to at least 30 possible challenges.

Second, I’d have ranges of prizes for the teams. By only having one set of winners, I don’t think the alliances were as competitive as they could have been. For instance, if a team was in last place, it might have more incentive to help another team win first place, if it helped them with points as well, increasing their prize.

Lastly, I didn’t make the money a factor. While each team was given $200 cash to use, I didn’t give teams bonus points for having the most money leftover. I think that, too, would have been a good lesson on how to budget together as well. Strategize to get the most points for the least amount of money.

I also wish that SCVNGR allowed video upload. Many of the challenges would have been even more fun with video involved.

In the end, you can bet that the Search Mojo team will do another scavenger hunt around Charlottesville in the future. If you’d like to see all of our photos from the day, you can view them on our Flickr photostream.

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