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  • Venkat Srinivasan

Quizzing – That Grand Extentia Tradition

One February afternoon over a decade ago

‘Vcat, free this Friday? There’s this IT co in KP whose VP-Operations said he needed some interesting employee engagement activity and found our CoEP’s ‘Boat Club Quiz Club’ on Google. They want regular quizzes as their employees don’t do anything other than coding and lunch’ (no, that last word was made up).

Said I: ‘Sure, I’ll go’!

As I recall, it was the week of the German Bakery tragedy, that I barely escaped, having just passed by the place.

That Friday at the EHP parking area location

My co-host and I were calm, having done this before at other organizations, and often on stage. A very helpful admin manager came up and asked us if the arrangements – projector, screen, scoreboard, and audio were up to our requirements. They totally were.

The quiz went well with a decent and curious (what a different format from school) audience. From the sheer competition, I could see what was to come if we took this up long term.

Now, I suddenly saw familiar faces! Yes, this was KP in Pune, but still…

The CEO, who looked like a senior from my school – Bishop’s (he totally was) asked what I did. I told him I headed marketing for a mobile internet company in the US.

‘Then you should talk to us!’, offering his card. I smiled for I was eager to be back in Pune anyway, and this opportunity was worth exploring.

I got an offer on the spot in the following week, with no interview. I never imagined this would be the start of a long journey, of change, of innovation, challenges, problem-solving, rewards, fun…I could go on and on.

So, quizzing got me a job where I was to stay for a very long time.

And it began

As I started work, it was decided that we’d have a monthly quiz on the last Friday of every month across two Extentia offices. BCQC was contracted to send me sets of questions initially. I’d then refine/curate the decks to my standard, add pictures, refine grammar and wording which took a lot of work. I’d also replace what I thought were tough questions. Sometimes I’d add verbal clues, for I wanted all questions answered.

How had quizzing changed since the 'Manoramic’ era over two decades ago?

The Manorama Yearbook or similar ‘quiz’ books were full of ‘what is the tallest, deepest, capital of, who is the president of, largest animal, who said this quote (some geezer from the 19th century). Either you knew the answer or you didn’t, and passing meant guesswork and an advantage to the teams the questions passed to.

‘Largest ocean?’ Eventually, after Indian, Atlantic…someone would get Pacific.

Where was the value in this? Just go read that book at home, and become a meaningless general knowledge specialist. Quizzing is NOT GK! Anymore.

We explained the ‘workable’ questions format, where there would be interesting clues to an answer. Nearly all of the participating Extentia teams would know if they saw a pattern, and a trick statement or so. ‘Infinite bounce’ a now commonly used fair passing format was explained until they all got the point. Quizzes would start close to 1:30p and end sharp at 2:30. About 26 questions in all.

Venues rotated across Extentia offices, but the sessions were mostly at RANGE (a large conference room at the Extentia Tower) and more recently at our new XEN LAB experience design center.

During the first year, I was allowed to participate, and then I was banned unanimously (ask why in the comments, there’s a story called Team Extentia v. Vcat). Then on, from 2011, I became the permanent host. The quorum was always achieved, with some of the company’s senior management always in attendance, and many regulars. I’d be ready 15 minutes earlier after set up with able help from IT for the usual projector and audio glitches. There’d also be able assistance on team forming, scoring, and monitoring rounds by a co-worker.

Then came the noise – arguments within teams, between teams, with the quizmaster (who gets to make a final ruling), brawls on the floor, and lawsuit threats (kidding). Complaints about scores not being added quickly to the board. You’d think they were competing for diamond pendants and unobtanium or vibranium! We did hand out bookshop vouchers or chocolates for winners for the first 3 years. A mic and speaker for audio/video were soon needed (to be heard over the pandemonium).

The quizzing standard almost reached BCQC entry levels, for questions were easily nailed over the years. Extentians got the point of working out questions, canceling out obvious answers, and pounce correctly.

Quizzing at the Extentia Premier League (XPL)

Quizzing was made part of the XPL in 2011, an all-floor raucous affair. These annual quizzes usually held on July 4, had to be hosted by an organizing Extentia house. As a result, we had some quizzes of a dubious standard for they weren’t actual quizzers who hadn’t gotten the point of workability. I used to run practice sessions for later organizers – sample questions, tone, humor, running infinite bounce correctly, and having safety (blank middle slides) slides lest the answer shows up at the touch of a key.

A known external consultant guided the organizers and helped set questions. The standard of the XPL quiz was vastly improved. I still held training sessions with sample questions.

At the XPL, I HAD to participate for my house team every year – the members made no bones about it. Anyways, our team won the most trophies at XPL through the present year.

The monthly quizzes continued and became the longest-running consistent ‘Friday Reboot’ at Extentia. Several alternate quiz setters were more than happy to establish their brand in the corporate world. Clients that visited Extentia were invited to participate. A few sessions were held for customer locations abroad, and special ones for them when they were in town for an extended time.

At the annual prestigious Tata Crucible corporate quiz, Extentia made the final three times from over 1000 teams, placed 3rd once.

We also conducted quizzes for Extentia partners and customers at our XTND events, that were very well received.

The COVID-19 lockdown

This period presented challenges, as the quiz had to be broadcast company-wide online for the first time. Over 400 Extentians were working from home, and there were factors like pow

For the first lockdown quiz,

we had two rehearsals with sample teams. Our efficient IT department ensured everything went off without a glitch on Teams, luckily the messaging software was installed just before the lockdown. Temporary WhatsApp groups for teams to discuss and pounce were set up.

The Friday online quiz has been going on uninterrupted for six months now, and it’s the 11th season at Extentia overall.

Other companies have shown interest in replicating this – online and at locations. They had heard about it from BCQC and some Extentians. Maybe we can offer QaaS – quizzing as a service? 😊

And it continues…and may it for years and years. Here’s to quizzing at Extentia!

(Here’s a mention of quizzing at Extentia in ‘AlluraVit’s QSoc magazine. Look for my column ‘WYGW’ from page 3 onward. Allura goes out to a global quizzing audience.)

Read other Extentia Blog posts here!

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