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Raising agile awareness with games

Our software development team has started transitioning to agile for more than a year now. The motivation behind this move is better delivery and more satisfaction for our customers but also for ourselves as a team. I explain it quickly in this video.

These things never go as fast as we’d like, and there are still a lot of things to improve. But one thing we’ve managed well over the last year is to raise agile awareness and interest. Here are 2 games we played in order to do so.

Tangled mess – Self Organized teams

The move to self organizing teams was triggered by a talk I attended to back in April, at the Vietnam Agile Forum, a talk by Ken Schwaber. He might remember me as the girl asking way too many questions! After this talk I was even more convinced that self-organizing teams was the way to go.

A team trying to untangle themselves

A team trying to untangle themselves

The below game illustrates how self-organizing teams can get better results, as long as:

  • everyone is involved
  • everyone understand what is at stake
  • team members talk to each other and cooperate

Material

No specific material.

How to play

Form teams of 8 to 10 people. Ask each team to select a manager. Other players should form a circle. Ask each player to hold the hand of 2 other people that are not adjacent to them. Their left hand should hold the right hand of another person and their left hand should hold the right hand of another person.

The team plays to untangle themselves into a nice circle while still holding their hands.

First round : the team strictly follows the instructions of the manager

Second round: remove the manager, the team members collaborate by themselves

Outcome

We didn’t measure precisely the performance time, and this is no scientific research. Some players prefer it with a manager, some without. In any case, the purpose was well illustrated, because indirectly, the following questions were raised.

  • how good are the manager’s instructions?
  • does the manager bottleneck by giving only one instruction at a time?
  • in which round is the team members more involved?
  • how to deal with communication involving all team members (better than shouting!)

Back-to-back Lego – Agile Programming

Agile programming is a must-have to further implement agile. We can have amazing teams, have an excellent understanding of the business value, eventually we need to be able to get over any technical debt.

Agile programming means:

  • continuous integration
  • automated unit testing
  • pair-programming

A team playing lego to practice pair programming

Whereas the 2 first are purely technical, pair-programming requires soft skills that are too often less cared about. The game below illustrates these soft skills.

Material

A box of first age lego blocks (e.g. duplo).

How to play

Form pairs. Each pair sit back-to-back. One player have a model from the catalog that the other can’t see. He/she needs to give instructions to his teammate to build according to the model.

Outcome

Apart from the challenge in communication, there are many similarities between building with lego blocks and software development.

  • give an overview (“the big picture”) first: “Why didn’t you tell me it was a boat to start with?”
  • did we pass quality check? : “You had 10 min to do it, you did it in 5 and didn’t take time to check!“
  • pay attention to details such as the color of a block: “I couldn’t find the yellow piece, so I took the orange one”
  • some people are team “helpers”: they go from one group to the another, give advice, help with pictures
  • some people are product “finishers”: even after the game is finished, they continue to complete the model
Comments (1)
  • Fabien says:

    Très intéressant ! J’aime particulièrement le jeu du légo dos à dos.

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