Tag Archives: Project Management

Teaching Agile through games

Agile is hot! And there are a number of ways to get familiar with the concepts of it. One of those is by playing games. Agile games are a fun and efficient way that allow participants on grasping the key concepts and find out how powerful Agile can be. While there are so many different games around one example I’d like to highlight is the LEGO city game. This game is covering every aspect of the Scrum process, it’s roles and ceremonies.

I recently had the chance to facilitate this game in collaboration towards another practice in our company.

Scrum LEGO city game

Scrum LEGO Game Intro
Image by Hakan Forss – https://hakanforss.wordpress.com/

The LEGO game is covering every aspect of the Scrum methodology and focuses on 5 of the key principle of the Agile Manifesto.

OPEN BACKLOGS THAT TRIGGER IDEATING over DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW

MINDFUL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT over A SERIES OF TASKS TO ACCOMPLISH

TEAMS COLLABORATING TOWARD COMMON SUCCESS over COMPETITION FOR SCORE

USEFUL METRICS TO ASSESS BENEFITS OF AGILE over FIGURES THE TRAINERS ASKED TO COLLECT

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTS over WINNING OR LOSING THE GAME WITH ONE TRY

Pre-game

The game was played as a follow-up on a basic Scrum theory session and providing a hands-on feel what Scrum is all about. With mixed levels of experience in the group, we’ve let them self-organize into two teams with one trainer as Product Owner for each team.

Our product vision was as follows;

Build a city with urban infrastructure for everyday living

  • Both teams work on the same city
  • LEGO are the main building elements
  • Product Owners will be the main decision makers
  • Everyone will be involved in the development process

While ideally after project chartering you’d want to build and estimate the backlog, we prepared ours upfront and did a separate session on estimations, due to time constraints. Our goal was to dive in to the sprint cycles as soon as possible.

The game

After a few minutes of planning our first sprint the teams were rushing in building their first parts of the city. Although a big stopwatch in front, the teams we’re surprised by the alarm and completing the first sprint already; Where is our city?!

This immediately highlighted the importance, or lack of, planning and communication at the start of the sprint. After a short round of review and retrospective the teams aligned their goals and improvements and headed off for the next round. These cycles are representing the Scrum ceremonies and can be repeated until the teams are high-performing, completed the backlog or just simply running out of LEGO blocks 🙂

Post-game

After completing a few sprints, we ended the session with a open discussion on what the teams experienced and learned. This always results in some great insights and ideas which can be brought back to a professional working environment.

Scrum LEGO Game 2 Scrum LEGO Game 1

Feel free to share your experiences with Scrum or Agile Games.

An introduction to Agile Software Development

Within software development there are a lot of different methodologies that can be utilized to achieve the goal and planned results. Although all methodologies have their own benefits, Agile is one of the methodologies that emerged over the past years, with a still increasing popularity. So what is Agile and how did it became so popular?

History of Agile development

Project management was typically approached by beginning and finishing one part of a project as linear processes before moving on to the next. Sequential phases in which you should only move to the next once its preceding phase is reviewed and verified. With long leading times throughout for the entire process this often led to projects running over time, budget or no longer relevant to the business. Instead of the traditional approach only the idea or the vision of the expected goal was presented and the project started immediately.  This latter approach became known as the agile development methodology. It required more effective communication between all working teams in a project but would yield more cost efficient results. In 2001 the ‘Agile manifesto’ was written to outline and set guidelines for the principles of Agile.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

What is Agile software development?

Whereas traditional methodologies require detailed requirements and Big Designs Up Front (BDUF), Agile does not have a clearly defined end product. By close collaboration and communication Agile focusses on adapting to change in a constantly evolving landscape. Delivering incremental business value to the product on short time-boxed cycle times. Each increment adds functional bits to the product which gives opportunity to inspect the current state and gather early feedback. These feedback loops give insights on the projects challenges or opportunities and allows involved stakeholders to adapt to new ideas or information.  These ideas can be used as input for the next increment or towards the final product.

Key Benefits Of Agile

  • Development starts early, immediately adding business value
  • High return on investment (ROI) by adding value with each increment
  • Frequent and predictable delivery of each increment
  • Early feedback loops
  • Opportunity to constantly refine, prioritize and change the product backlog
  • Transparency throughout the project lifecycle
  • High stakeholder and team engagement by close collaboration

Based on own experience adopting Agile practices I’ve seen projects turning around from years delay to delivery on time. By incorporating the ability to change, close collaboration and short feedback loops this also led to a much higher client and customer satisfaction.