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Name: Michael

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Bio: Michael McCullough, PMP, CSM, MCT is a software consultant and Agile Coach based in Calgary Alberta, Canada. Michael helps organizations adopting, new practices and approaches to managing and delivering better software.

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    Agile Games 2012 – Call For Games

    January 27th, 2012

    The Agile Games 2012 conference is game submission system is open until the of January. Get your games in now, we can’t wait to see you there!

    Read more here at the conference website.

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    TastyCupcakes Community Update

    April 29th, 2011

    As some of you may have noticed, there have been few changes around here lately. As part of the TastyCupcakes community vision we have been working to improve the site to make the experience and content more accessible, useful and collaborative for the community.

    To reflect our new vision and focus on community we have moved our site to a .org domain. Although a small and perhaps unnoticable change it does reflect to those of us in the community the real purpose of this site – to connect and enable professionals who are passionate about using games and experiential techniques and want to learn and share with others.

    Another subtle change is our new tagline – Fuel for Invention and Learning. As the community grows we have recognized that there are a wide range of leading edge and forward thinking individuals and companies, leveraging game and experiential techniques to drive innovation, creativity and learning.

    Other changes include the site itself, we have re-engineered the site to improve usability, appearance and performance . Our work is of course not done and we will continue to look for ways to improve the site for all of us.

    As we continue to work on improving the site we also are focussed on building the community. We are looking for passionate and committed people to join us to  help grow and support the community.  If this is you please send us a note and let us know how you would like to help.

    1 Comment "

    Agile Games 2011 – Early Bird Prices End Feb 28th!

    February 22nd, 2011

    Agile Games 2011 – Early Bird Prices End Feb 28th!
    Learn. Share. Play!
    Don’t miss this opportunity to interact with other world-class Agile practitioners. Early Bird pricing ($395 /person) ends on February 28. Register now and save $80 off the standard pricing ($475 / person) that takes effect on March 1.
    This 3-day conference will explore how to innovate, solve problems, and get work done within Agileprojects. The conference offers a rich experience and networking opportunity for both experienced Agile professionals and those new to Agile software development through a blend of deep dive sessions,interactive clinics, open space, and games facilitated by renowned experts from within the Agile community and beyond.
    In today’s competitive marketplace, everyone faces growing pressure to innovate and improve. Teamsneed new tools that encourage and allow for people to reach their maximum potential. Come learn newtechniques, explore with a group of like-minded learners, and have fun at the same time!
    For more information and to register, go to:

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    Tasty Cupcakes now in three languages!

    February 5th, 2011

    The agile games on are now available in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese!  A huge thank you to the translation team that made this possible. Learn more about the people behind the project on the Translation Project page.


    Agile Games 2011 Conference Super Early Bird Pricing Until January 24, 2011

    January 19th, 2011

    The clock is ticking, only a few days remain for Super Early Bird Pricing for the second annual Agile Games Conference. This is a phenomenal price, only $295.00 for a three day conference dedicated to sharing and exploring the use of games and Agile.

    This deal will only last until January 24th so visit for more details and register right away.

    I look forward to seeing you all there!

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    New for 2011, TastyCupcakes’ Updated and Expanded Vision

    January 7th, 2011
    We have updated and expanded the vision for TastyCupcakes to become the one-stop shop for Agile Games and more. We are looking for community help to make this happen.

    Vision is a Community portal to share and find games that makes it easy to find games for a specific problem.

    Unlike other sites that aggregates games,

    • is frequently updated
    • is community-led with curators


    • Consultants
    • Coaches
    • Trainers
    • Team Leaders
    • Managers
    • Learning-oriented team members

    who have

    • Challenges conveying complex ideas
    • Want to change mindsets
    • Looking for fast and effective method of sharing ideas
    • Like to put on a show, fun for me and for everyone else
    • A desire to share their ideas with the community

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    Agile Games Conference 2011

    October 8th, 2010

    The second annual Agile Games Conference is on, April 14-16th in Boston. This year we will be accepting submission for games and topics. To keep updated on where things are at, how to attend  and how to submit your own ideas go to

    Look forward to seeing you there!


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    First Agile Games Conference at #DeepAgile

    May 21st, 2010

    Wicked Awesome time in Boston!


    Mike having an awesome time in Boston

    Just under a week back home and I finally have the chance to write about the most amazing time at the first Agile Games Conference in Boston. The conference was hosted by Agile Bazaar, a dedicated  and leading edge Agile group in the Boston Area.

    I had the pleasure of meeting a phenomenal group of experienced, Agile coaches, practitioners, fellow speakers and in addition those who were completely new to Agile. I thank everyone I met for your spirit and enthusiasm for the event and the topic of Agile Games.

    The highlights (in no particular order):

    • The realization that there are a lot more people than I thought who are interested or expert at working with games and experiential learning for Agile
    • I was able to run some new games on retrospectives and estimation (I will be posting in the weeks to follow).
    • New games were developed by attendees of the conference (I also hope will be posted here in the weeks to come).

    New Games Created at Deep Agile

    The creation of new games by conference attendees was pretty wicked. As we were planning the conference I saw the opportunity to run a games design session prior to the open space program on the second say. I thought I might inspire or perhaps cajole a few people into trying to use the open space format to build and run a new game. To my delight, three new games were created that day and two were run. Both were totally the product and inspiration of the people who created them. I simply explained how Don and I create games: the process we apply, the principles we follow and the things that inspire us. It really is not as hard as you might think and this was the point we wanted to make.

    The Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder

    Michael Sahota championed one of the games that emerged from this exercise, “The Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder”. This powerful game demonstrates the importance of identifying and leveraging different views to better manage a  product backlog. I really look forward to trying this one myself. Again , I hope to post how to execute this game in the near future. Below is a picture of the whole team, Michael is third from the left. I will add the rest of the names soon. If you see yourself, send me note and I’ll update the post with your name.

    Team that created the Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder at Deep Agile

    Team that created the Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder at Deep Agile

    Playing Backlog is in the eye of the Beholder

    Plumb Crazy

    John Martin along with his teammate David Hallowell, championed another excellent game “Plumb Crazy”. This clever game demonstrates the challenges that can emerge when individuals feel they are making progress but the team is not really delivering value. I look forward to using this one too. Again, I do hope to have this one published later this summer. Below is a picture of John(left)  and David (right).

    John and David, creators of Plumb Crazy

    And here is a group playing the game!

    Playing Plumb Crazy

    Playing Plumb Crazy... that's hackerchick far right!

    Diverse and Dedicated Experiential Games People

    As I mentioned earlier, it was great for me to be surrounded by people who take games and experiential learning seriously. I find tremendous value in these techniques and it reassuring to know I am not the only one who thinks so. A thank you to Tobias Mayer, Lyssa Adkins, Portia Tung and my good buddy Don McGreal for being an inspiration to me. Thanks also to Brian Bozutto and Michael de la Mazza for actually conceiving of a conference focused on Agile games and having the courage and dedication to make it happen.

    Some New Games Coming

    I will soon post the new games that I did at the conference. One is a contextual game to set the stage for retrospectives called “Balloon Madness”. I will also post the retrospective approaches I introduced as well as some I learned including the poetic and now popular “Liked, Lacked, Longed for”. By the way, that was from a nice lady from South Carolina, second from the left in the picture of the “Backlog is in the Eye of the Beholder” team. I also spoke with Francois Bachmann many times through the conference . Francois has a deep interest in retrospectives and showed me a really unique set of cards to help drive more effective retrospectives.

    The other game that I ran was the Domino Effect which is a game that illustrates the impact on software development when timelines are arbitrarily shortened. The point demonstrated is that software is not like painting walls and the technical debt that is accumulated by rushing can not be accommodated with simply extending the timeline.

    More to Come

    But I need some sleep.

    Posted by Michael McCullough

    1 Comment "

    TastyCupcakes Agile Games podcast with Improving Enterprises

    December 9th, 2009

    Mike McCullough and Don McGreal, the founders of TastyCupcakes, recently recorded a podcast on agile games and TastyCupcakes with Mike Abney, Allen Hurst and Ed Grannan at Improving Enterprises.

    We discuss the application of games, some of our favourites and the history behind the name TastyCupcakes.

    Give it a listen, we hope you enjoy it!

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    Map Flap

    October 27th, 2009


    45-60 mins


    • Pens & paper for all
    • Business team, with shared domain responsibility. For example, the HR department or  Sales team. You can have a mixture so long as there is overlap.


    • Explain some basic workflow/process mapping mechanics and identify the Value Stream.
    • Have each person (or groups of two or three depending on size of the audience) map the Value Stream identified above. Give 15-20 minutes to this activity and encourage discussion.
    • Once completed, post each Value Stream Map on the wall and have all participants compare and contrast their results. There will almost certainly be differences.
    • Then discuss the challenges with optimizing the business process to eliminate Waste (Muda) and improve  Flow(Mura) when there is not a clear and consistent picture of the business process itself. Look for examples in the different maps provided that would lead to inefficient or potentially harmful improvements that might be attempted.

    Other helpful hints:

    If the maps provided are relatively consistent then the discussion is not warranted and a congratulation on the maturity of the group is all that is needed and you can move on to improving flow, eliminating waste  and mapping future state.

    Learning Points:

    • It is not unusual for the people in an operational business unit to have very divergent perspectives of how the operation actually runs. It is particularly pronounced between management and frontline workers.
    • A valid and real perspective of the Process Map is absolutely critical before beginning any discussion about how to improve it.

    Posted by Mike McCullough


    This game kindly submitted by Angela Hlavka, President, iluminari Inc.
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