Preparing for a Paddl Games - Your ‘How-to’ Guide by Kim Fernandes

May 07, 2019
By Kim Fernandes

As Day 5 of the COSBOA Innovation Games draws closer, I thought I would share some ways in which you can best prepare yourself for Challenge Day. Having been part of five Paddl Games Challenges myself, I thought it would be best to impart some of the things I’ve learnt along the way to my fellow Challengers!

For those of you who are joining Paddl Games for the first time, these opportunities are one-day commitments for students and graduates from a range of study disciplines to level-up their workplace experience - work with businesses on actual problems they face and expand their professional networks. It does however involve ~some~ prep in the days leading up, so here are the best ways to make the most of your time before, on and after Challenge Day!

1. Get familiar with design thinking.

Paddl Games days run according to these principles, to ensure the most innovative solutions are developed on Challenge Day. The day itself is split up into three 2-hour blocks called sprints - aim to understand why this process is executed the way it is. A quick Google search will give you an overview of the basics, and if you have any questions, you can easily throw them out in our communications tool, ‘Slack.’ (Participants are invited to join prior to Game Day to get to know each other)

The Paddl team will also provides a range of resources leading up to Challenge Day - a run sheet, a Challenger Brief as well as an intro into design thinking principles  - check these all out so you at least have an idea of what your day will involve!

Paddl Tip: The day is fast, fun and full-on; so I would encourage asking questions prior to Game Day in Slack - whether it’s about design thinking, how to get there, the food or simply what skills your team members can bring to the table, start communicating early!

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2. Know what you’re walking into - check out past event blogs and Challenger stories.

The Paddl Blog is full of wrap-up stories from past events, winning team case studies, Challenger profiles and other featured goodies! These blogs are quick snapshots of what Challenge Days involve, and who best to hear from than those who have done it before!

Check out the wrap-ups from previous Games - GrowthOps, Bunnings and Australia Post - or if you’re more interested in the winning solutions check out Wayne Cleaning Systems, Karmic Cold Pressed Juice and recent winners, Tooradin Pharmacy. Otherwise, our Challenger stories have individual perspectives on the Games itself, check out Joseph, Harry and Nhi’s stories. Perusing a few of these will give you a better understanding of what’s involved, and how best to prepare.

3. Join Slack as soon as you are invited, and be active on it!

As mentioned above, a few days prior to the event all participants are invited to join the online communication tool, ‘Slack’ in order to e-meet their teams, receive important Game Day information and be able to choose a team name.

This is your place to ask questions, get to know your team members, share your experience and knowledge and even brainstorm prior to the event. Do you best to take advantage of this! When your team members see you being active, they are more likely to chime in too, so don’t be afraid to be the first one to strike up a conversation!

Paddl Tip: It has been observed over several games, that the most successful teams on the day were the ones who are most engaged in Slack prior to the event - again, start communicating early!

4. Research your nominated business, and ask questions.

It’s important to have at least a basic understanding of your nominated business before you rock up on Game Day. Spend a little time researching the company so you understand what they do and how they do it, and how this relates to the Challenge theme. There’s no need to obsess over potential solutions just yet! As long as you understand their current state of affairs, it will be easier to discuss their business landscape with your team on Game Day. Coming prepared with some insight helps - teams who have done this bond quicker and can dive straight into defining the problem.

Paddl Tip: Research can involve simply navigating their website, social accounts or employees on LinkedIn. Understanding what the company is saying about itself will make building on this much easier on Game Day.

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5. Think about what else you can bring to the table.

The communications tool Slack is super easy to use. Use this to introduce yourself, what you study or have finished studying, but go one step further - state what your skills or passions are outside of work/study that could be relevant to your business or challenge. Learning how your skills will complement each other is crucial to help make quick decisions on the day. It might be something as simple as enjoying photography in your spare time, or helping install a new point of sales system at work (this was a story I shared with my team during the Canon Games, which helped form our final idea!)

More importantly, be open to new ideas, perspectives and approaches from each other. Actively listening is just as important to collaborative teams as sharing is. We’re all here for the experience, so do your best to make it collaborative and fun!

6. Get in early on Game Day.

I can’t stress how important this is - Paddl Games days are BIG, so get in early so you can settle in and be ready to hit the ground running when it all kicks off. Registration opens from 8am - there’s always tea and coffee, smiles from the entire Paddl crew, goodie bags to pick up, and of course, meeting your business and team members! This has got to be my favourite part - getting to know everyone and getting excited for a day of innovating and problem-solving.

Paddl Tip: Plan your journey the night before and get a good night's sleep! Even suggesting a meeting time with your team via Slack to ensure you’re not ‘running late’ will help you and your team settle in. If you do run late or have issues finding the venue, just use Slack to connect with the Paddl Crew who are happy to help!

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7. Don’t be afraid to connect with your peers and the industry professionals in the room.

You’ve just spent the whole day working on a project with, safe to say, complete strangers to you a week ago! These experiences have a way of bringing out the best in people, so acknowledging everyone’s time (it is volunteer, after all!) and saying a quick thank you, or complimenting someone on the skills they put forward can go a long way. Remember everyone you meet on the day could be potential colleagues or clients to you in the future - you never know when your paths will cross again, so make the most of it!

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Ok I’m ready, now what?

That’s the top tips for Paddl Games I would like to share with you, I hope you all can put these into practice at Day 5 of the COSBOA Innovation Games!

As “Judith from Paddl 👋” cheekily likes to remind me every now and then, I’ve been part of 5 different challenges and I haven’t won any prizes yet! But what I take from the days is so much more. It’s the network you build, the amount you learn from each other and the value of the experience as a whole, working collaboratively to a deadline to make a real difference! I wouldn’t have it any other way, Paddl Games truly is experience building, whatever your field of study. To everyone I’ve met along the way (you all know who you are) thank you for continually making my Paddl experience bigger and brighter than it was before!

If you’re keen to experience the wonder of Paddl Games like I have - you’re in luck, our recently awarded (yes, we won an award!) Paddl Games Challenges has another instalment coming up fast - The COSBOA Innovation Games sponsored by EnergyAustralia on May 15th! Get your profile setup here, add your activity cards and APPLY NOW!