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.