So, you’re having a tournament
This is a huge step toward building a stronger security mindset. Right now, you might be wondering how to make your tournament extra-cool and engaging.
We’ve seen a few of these in our day and have noted some of our best tips on how to maximize value and engagement levels. And how to make them fun, of course.
- General Tips
- Getting Started
- Before your tournament
- During your tournament
- After your tournament
- Running Tournament Playoffs
Try and tie your tournament into a Security Training Program brand. Tournaments are just one part of the overall program, they’re an excellent place to promote your company Security Training Program.
You can generate a lot of great interest and activity amongst your team by using fun Tournament themes based on pop culture, movies, events, and more. Imagination is the key ingredient.
Some interesting themes customers are using include:
- Game of Codes (Game of Thrones)
- Code Wars (Star Wars)
- School of Coding Wizardry (Harry Potter)
- Organization brand adaptions
Speaking of themes, if you’re struggling to come up with one or you’re not sure where to start, fear not, we’ve got little something for that too. It’s called Tournament-in-a-Box.
Choose from our super-cool pre-designed (and copyright safe) themes or, for some extra engagement, let your developers choose.
It has pretty much everything you need to get started in one downloadable package.
- Email and social media graphics
- Email communication template
- Tournament checklist
- A wealth of other tips and advice
For more details and downloads, check out this article.
In a perfect world, we’d suggest gathering all participants in one place for Tournament days. It’s a bit easier to generate hype and turn it into a big event. However, we know this isn’t always possible for customers with locations and developers across the globe.
Luckily Tournaments are a lot like online gaming; they can be run virtually from pretty much anywhere. Schedule a few dedicated hours for each office or group to get together, take some selfies, and compete in their Tournament.
Typical tournament lengths can vary based on team size and number of locations, if global. It can range from a few hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, one week, or two weeks.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Provide lunch and snacks
- Book a dedicated room with network bandwidth and power points
- Ensure the room is accessible to all participants (Wheelchair access, etc.)
- Put up posters
- Display prizes and swag
- Set up a monitor to display the leaderboard
- Have some cool background music
To start off, launch Tournaments with more time than the total number of challenges suggests. This builds team confidence in completing the tournament.
- Build a Tournament into a program that leads to a bigger competition or event. This can be based on teams / BUs, regions, internal brands/products, etc. rather than individual quarterly events.
- Host periodic tournaments as developers earn more points and make their way further through their training.
- Make it more challenging as more tournaments are held. You can do this by giving participants less time or removing hints.
Wait, what kind of prizes?
So this can be tricky. Luckily, we’ve been here before. Start thinking about tournament prizes or rewards before the actual tournament so you have time to investigate and organize.
For prizes, most competitors like to receive practical items they can use, like fancy noise-canceling headphones, a tablet, or even cash/gift cards.
Consider other perks around the office, too, like giving tournament winners a free day off or an early mark every day for a week.
Experiences are a hot ticket item to think about, especially since a lot of people are already overloaded with tech. A fun event during a workday gives winners a chance to get out of the office and do something they might not normally do. Like a segway tour or checking out a sporting event from the good seats.
Prize category ideas
- Top 3
- Unique Language winners
- Participation lucky draw
- Winner of each language
- Least lives lost
Before your Tournament
- Host Info or Q&A sessions for developers and managers
- Select executives or managers for an intro meeting prior to Tournament Launch - It can be done virtually with platform training or during a stand up with the development community
- Use all channels of communication to promote the Tournament
- Use calendar invite for a ‘Save the Date’
- Print and put up posters
- Create a dedicated Secure Code Warrior channel on Slack/Yammer/Chat
- Create a Confluence/Wiki/intranet page
- Use social media and think about a company Secure Code Warrior hashtag
- Send newsletters, emails, or have meetings
- Consider incentives like gift cards, swag/apparel, recognition at high-level meetings, rewards from corporate ‘Rewards & Recognition’ program
- Leverage Team Leads and Security Champions (if already established) to advocate on your behalf
- If possible, communicate your larger program plan so teams can understand “What’s next?” prior to Tournament launch
During your Tournament
Use Rounds (Round 1, Round 2, etc.) and provide smaller prizes for Round Winner(s). This provides an incentive for those who may start poorly and keeps engagement for the next round.
Display your leaderboard on a large screen and have regular leader announcements
- Maintain promotional communications throughout the tournament, especially if it’s being run over a longer period or multiple locations
After your Tournament
Have a formalized prize-giving event and wrap up with Leadership Teams
Celebrate 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place
Have a random prize raffle for all participants so everyone has a chance to win something on the day
Send out a short survey to your developers to find out what they liked or what could change. This gives them a voice in helping to improve following Tournaments so you both win.
Analyze the metrics from the Tournament - Accuracy across vulnerabilities, developers, languages, and teams.
From the metrics, identify Security Champions (Highest scores) and highlight Most Improved developer.
Use all channels to communicate the results (and excitement) of the tournament
Dedicated Secure Code Warrior channel for Slack / Yammer / Chat
Confluence / Wiki / intranet
Provide detailed communication on the program’s next or existing steps based on what stage it’s
Running Tournament Playoffs
If you’re looking for a cool way to build on the excitement of tournaments, why not throw some playoffs into the mix? Nothing like a bit of fun competition.
Tournament playoffs are a popular way to rollout the Secure Code Warrior platform, with our busiest clients finding higher ongoing training engagement across their development teams.
We’ve put together a little cheat sheet full of things we’ve learned from running this method with some of our most successful clients.
Tournament Playoff Tips
- Have tournaments every other month
- This gives developers more time to train
- New content is added regularly which keeps developers engaged
- This way teams that don’t make it to the top 3 can try again in the next tournament
- This keeps qualified teams coming back for more, even though they’re already through to the finals.
- This helps keep non-qualified teams engaged and gives them a goal to work towards
Having a few award categories will bolster developer engagement while also keeping the spirit of competition alive and thriving. Having an overall objective to reach as the year goes on helps make sure everyone is included and looking forward to the final showdown.
Tournament Playoffs Configuration
- Keep all tournaments the same
- If you’re encouraging developers to re-qualify each tournament, keep it fair and simple by cloning your original tournament.
- Make it challenging! Remove hints, set tournament difficulty to aggressive, add extra challenges, go nuts. This will really give participants a chance to use everything they’ve learned in the platform so far.
- Tell the developers to tell their peers! The best promotion comes from within the development community, especially from Senior Devs