The Genesis of VDS Food Wars #VDSFoodWars

We would make a bracket of those restaurants and we would then run a tournament until a winner was crowned.

Food War Champs

At VDS one of our favorite weekly activities is Food Wars. This Friday we will have the finals for Taco Wars. Taco Wars is the fourth instalment of the VDS Food Wars were we have tried food from 16 different taco restaurants. The previous three were: Pizza Wars, Wing Wars and Burger Wars.

For years VDS operated from our homes. We worked remotely. As we grew it became apparent that, for our type of work, additional collaboration would be good all around. There are some things we can do well from home, individually, there are other things we do that are best done as a team. That has become even more important as we adopted Scrum as our agile methodology. In any case, we were going to change our culture significantly and as the cause of this change I wanted to find ways for everyone to engage in our new work environment.

As a leader and a thinker I was looking at many angles with the upcoming changes. For one thing I could not say we would only work from the office now. We remain a flex schedule business. Everyone is encouraged to work at the office as much as possible but that's not absolutely required. We all have lives and sometimes we need to take care of things from home. I don't want to be one of those bosses that micro manages everything. I'd rather trust the people I work with. An extension of that is you trust them to work at home when it is appropriate and to work at the office the rest of the time. Another consideration I had was: what can I do to engage everyone on Fridays so we did not end up having 3 day weekends every week. 

Pizza is my favorite food. I've always loved it. My wonderful wife Linda, does not appreciate pizza. That means I need to get it on my own. Whenever possible, I would go to different pizza restaurants and would try their pizza. There were a lot of places around the new office I didn't know. I wanted to find a way to try them. 

One of our perks is that VDS covers lunch at the office daily. One day, while thinking through all of this, I had the brilliant idea to combine all of the above into Pizza Wars on Fridays at the new office. We had 10 people working at the time so here is what we decided to do. We would order lunch in for everyone. We would order the same pizzas from 2 restaurants at a time. Each person would eat half their meal from each restaurant. At the end of lunch we would vote for the winner. When I ran it by a couple of the guys they were enthusiastic about the plan and started asking questions on how it would work.

We solve problems for a living, getting this one figured out was easy and fun. We decided it should be like March Madness. We would find enough pizza places with delivery to or within 15 minutes of the office. We would make a bracket of those restaurants and we would then run this tournament until a winner was crowned. We found 16 pizza restaurants quickly enough. We decided that was perfect and set up a bracket on one of our white boards at the office. For 17 weeks, we had 2 ties, we did Pizza Wars on Fridays and on January 5th, 2015 we crowned our first winner, Anthony's Pizza. 

Everyone loved the concept, somewhere along the way we started talking about what would be next and decided wings was the perfect food to do this with. The week after Pizza Wars was finished we started Wing Wars. Given our penchant for continued improvements we added vote counts and seedings for Wing Wars thanks to Richie Rump. Pizza wars became the VDS Food Wars. Burger Wars followed Wing Wars, it was the first time we tried 32 restaurants. After that we found 16 restaurants that served tacos nearby and so Taco Wars was born. 

What's next? We're talking about doing the top 4 of the first 4 Food Wars next. So far we are referring to it as the Winner's Circle. We'll post the winner of Taco Wars on Friday. In the meantime, we'll keep enjoying good food together.