Annually, the IIS team gathers at Emily's house on the shores of lake Sammamish to enjoy a day of fun under under the sun. We call it "water day", and it has been a team tradition for at least as long as I have been on the IIS team.
Its organization, activities, and participants constantly alter, but one thing remains constant - a large number of the IIS team take off on a work day to go have fun on the lake, and a sub group hangs around at the end to really chat/gripe about things on their mind, management excluded. It allows parts of the team who otherwise would not gather/socialize with each other a chance to do so, and it gives people a creative outlet to vent/relax. We try to not talk about work, but inevitably, issues/differences do get informally ironed out, and that is a cool side-effect.
I remember water day starting out as a bunch of core developers who decided to coordinate a common ditch-work-day to go drink and play on the lake (water ski, wake board, swim, etc), and few key test process and automation folks with close working relationship with those developers who tagged along. It quickly got management sanction, organization, and catering, and it grew into the current, annual event.
Yeah, it is symbolic of how many things come about on the IIS team - do it, and they will come. A small number of people decides to do something, the result gathers concensus from others, and management later comes along to rationalize/formalize what was intuitively done.
In contrast to prior years, the team catered everything. Brian, Rich, and Keith manned the grill and churned out BBQ ribs, chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and ears of corn. Chips/salsa, fresh veggie platter, fresh fruit platter, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and ice cream were also present... along with two kegs of beer. Emily took interested people out for a ride on her boat. I took photos/movies of the event throughout the entire water day. Yeah, we had everything covered. :-)
For the first half of the afternoon, the weather was overcast, and people staggered in from work between 12-2pm to eat. Some people went out for a ride on the jet skis and hopped off the water trampoline; others just ate and watched from shore. Fortunately, the sun broke through later in the afternoon, and that was when the fun began. Chris challenged Andrew to a team drinking game - team of people each sequentially drink an equal amount of beer and then attempt to flip their plastic cup to stand on its opposite end, and first team to have all its members complete the drink-and-flip task wins the round... and we played to the best of 7 rounds to win a game, and best two out of three games.
Let's just say that this kept a large part of the IIS team entertained, and we were glad that the managers were no longer around. ;-) Jan made a strong showing for the women on the IIS team by consistently performing the drink-and-flip in a short amount of time, and there were several photo-finish moments, including one where Edmund beat Wade by a matter of milliseconds. In the end, Andrew's team soundly beat Chris's team... but Andrew got really, really wasted. But it was all in good fun. We all had a great time.
Most people left by 8pm, but Jan, Edmund, Andrew, Emily, and I hung around to watch the sunset and chat/gripe about the drama in our lives both work and personal. I swear... while it is nice to impersonally plan and negotiate a task completion schedule, it is very satisfying to just reach a mutual state of understanding and simply operate as friends instead of coworkers. Things just get done better when we do things as "favors" for friends and our team morale stays higher as well. Yes, I know it does not scale past a certain point, but the IIS team is not yet past that point... despite what team management tries to organize. We just try to pull together and get things done, fast.
Ahh... it was such a nice, enjoyable day..