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Name: Geoff

Web Site: http://www.inspectandadapt.com

Posts by geoffwatts:

    The Penny Game

    May 4th, 2013

    This is a theory of constraints based game that I am in no way attempting to claim credit for. I just wanted a link where I could point people to

    Timing:

    20-30 minutes

    Materials:

    • A minimum of 10 people
    • A bag of 20 small coins
    • A flipchart to record the scores

    Instructions:

    4 people are to be workers, seated at a table

    Each “worker” will have a “manager” stand behind them with a timing device (stopwatch or smart phone)

    Two extra non-workers will also be stood around the table with timing devices

    Give the 20 coins to the first “worker” and instruct everyone that the objective of this game is to process the 20 coins through the system of workers.

    To be processed, coins must be flipped – one at a time and with your left hand only – and then passed to the next worker in the chain who will do the same. Once the coins have been processed by all four workers, they are considered “done”

    Workers may only pass the coins once the full batch of coins is complete.

    The managers of each worker will time how long it takes for their worker to process the 20 coins

    One non-worker will also be timing how long it takes for the first coin to be processed completely

    One non-worker will also be timing how long it takes for the 20 coins to be processed completely

    Round One:

    Workers operate in batches of 20 i.e. they may only pass coins to the next worker once they have flipped all 20 coins

    Round Two:

    Workers operate in batches of 10 i.e. they may pass a batch of 10 coins to the next worker once they have flipped 10 coins

    Round Three:

    Workers operate in batches of 5 i.e. they may pass a batch of 5 coins to the next worker once they have flipped 5 coins

    Round Four:

    Workers operate in batches of 1 i.e. they may pass each coin to the next worker once they have flipped it

     

    In each, round, the facilitator will capture the time for each worker, the time for the first coin and the time for all 20 coins to be processed.

    At the end of round 4, the facilitator will lead the group through the analysis of the timings.

    Individual timings will typically increase while the time to get coins process goes down which gives the impression of each worker becoming less efficient (especially those at the end of the process) while the process itself becomes more efficient. Discussions around bottlenecks, cross-functionality etc will typically be instigated.
    Variations:

    Try throwing in a different sized coin in to the process to see how teams cope with variations

    Try tracking how long it takes for an “urgent request” to get through the various batch-sized systems

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    Rating: 3.5/5 (8 votes cast)

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    Thirty-Five

    October 23rd, 2012

    I was introduced to this technique by Xavier Quesada Allue who told me he learned it from Tobias Mayer. A reference to this can also be found in Jean Tabaka’s book: Collaboration Explained (p207) entitled “Pass The Cards”

    Timing:

    10-15 minutes

    Materials:

    A minimum of 8 people, and an even number of people

    Anything that you want to prioritise, written on separate cards

    One card and one pen per person

    Instructions:

    This exercise only works with an even number of people and has a total of seven rounds

    Give everybody a card with a Product Backlog item on it and a pen

    In each round everyone finds someone to pair up with and they discuss the two cards they have in front of them:

    • As a pair, you have 5 points that can be allocated between the two cards based on the relative importance of the two cards
    • No half numbers are allowed so the points must be split 5:0 or 4:1 or 3:2
    • It is not about each person trying to convince the other that their card is more important than their partners card
    • The two people must agree on the scoring split
    • Once the scoring split has been agreed, the pair swap cards with each other and hold their hands up to indicate they have finished the round
    • Once everyone has finished with the round, the facilitator indicates the start of the next round where different pairings will take place, repeating the above process
    • A total of seven rounds are run and then the total of the 7 scores on the card are totalled up.
    • The cards are then laid out in order with the highest scoring cards at one end and the lower scoring cards at the other

    Learning Points: 

    • It is easier to prioritise when only comparing two items
    • It is a quick way to prioritise
    • It is a democratic, inclusive process
    • If you have stakeholders who are attached to lobbying for one particular feature, this literally requires them to give it away to someone else

    Variations:

    1. Try more rounds to decrease the likelihood of spurious results and cards with the same total score
    2. Try a bigger scoring range to increase the spread and reduce the impact of people unwilling to use the extremes i.e. 9 points instead of 5. While you may still not get many 9:0′s you may get more 7:2′s
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    Rating: 4.0/5 (6 votes cast)

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    Destroy

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard and was inspired by the TV series “Jamie’s Dream School”. The episode this refers to can be found here

    Timing:

    30-45 minutes

    Materials:

    Scissors

    Glue-sticks

    Magazines

    Colouring pens/paints

    Coloured paper

    Other art/craft materials

    Digital Camera and Printer (or pre-printed head and shoulders photographs of team members)

    Instructions:

    Take a ‘head-and-shoulders’ photograph of each team member and print out landscape

    Ask each team member to “destroy” or augment their photograph so that it reflects their style or personality

    Learning Points: 

    • This is a fun and creative way of learning about your team-mates
    • It is a great team-building exercise, especially useful for teams that are geographically distributed

    Variations:

    1. Draw names out of a hat and “destroy” someone else’s photograph to reflect what you know about them

      
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    Rating: 3.8/5 (9 votes cast)

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    Video Reframing

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard

    Timing:

    30-45 minutes

    Materials:

    Thought-provoking video and the AV equipment to play it to the team

    Instructions:

    1. The idea of this “game” is to play the team a short, thought-provoking video and ask the team to reflect on it in their context. Excellent as a retrospective technique. One of our favourite debriefing templates for this exercise is the “What? So What? Now What?” template:
    2. First asking the team “What?” – what was the video about? What was the message?
    3. Then asking the team “So What?” – how is that relevant to them as a team or the organisation or them individually?
    4. Then finally asking them “Now What?” – what do they think they could or should do based on what they have seen, heard and discussed?
    5. TED.com is a great source of short, though-provoking videos to begin with but you could pick a clip from an episode of The Simpsons or a movie, or even a random Youtube clip. Sometimes the content isn’t important so long as the team use it as an opportunity or frame to reflect

    Learning Points: 

    • Obviously the learning points are highly dependent upon the video you choose and the area(s) of reflection the team choose to look at
    • The main, high-level, learning points are around the importance of reflection and the power of abstraction and re-framing (taking something apparently random/unrelated/irrelevant and applying it to their situation)

    Variations:

    1. Try an article or a blog post instead of a video
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    Upside Downside

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard

    Timing:

    30-45 minutes (depending upon the complexity, emotion or controversy around the topic)

    Materials:

    None

    Instructions:

    1. This is typically used in retrospectives but could be used by teams to critique or evaluate potential options at any time.
    2. Split the group into two even-sized sub-groups
    3. One of the sub-groups has the task of making the case for either:
      • (i) why the option in front of them is the worst thing possible; or
      • (ii) the situation they find themselves will be the death of the team; or
      • (ii) why this specific solution is the best solution to the problem
    4. The other sub-group has the task of making the case for either:
      • (i) why the option in front of them is the best thing possible; or
      • (ii) the situation they find themselves will be the making of the team; or
      • (ii) why this other specific solution is the best solution to the problem
    5. After 10 minutes or so to prepare their cases the two sides have a debate with important points being captured and then discussed as one team

    Learning Points: 

    • One group looking for all the “yes, and…” viewpoints and one group looking for all the “yes, but…” viewpoints gives a balance between optimism and risk management
    • This is a fairly fun way for a team to evaluate their options

    Variations:

    1. When splitting the group into two sub-groups, allocate the role of neutral observer to one or two people
    2. After the teams have made their initial arguments, the teams then swap and have to “defeat” their own arguments
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    Story Spines

    October 23rd, 2012

    Simon Bennett generously introduced us to this game during the Scrum Trainers Retreat in Amsterdam in 2010. It is a common improv game

    Timing:

    15 minutes

    Materials:

    6 Chairs

    Pre-prepared index cards with story element structures (See below)

    Instructions:

    Preparation

    1. Set out 6 chairs in a row from left to right
    2. On chair 1 place an index card with the following words: “Once upon a time there was…”
    3. On chair 2 place an index card with the following words: “And every day…”
    4. On chair 3 place an index card with the following words: “Until one day…”
    5. On chair 4 place an index card with the following words: “And then because of that…”
    6. On chair 5 place an index card with the following words: “And then because of that…”
    7. On chair 6 place an index card with the following words: “And ever since that day…”
    8. Explain to the team that their task is to create a story but in a slightly different way

    How the technique works:

    1. One person will start the story by walking to the first chair and completing the sentence (for example “Once upon a time there was a blue chicken”)

    2. Someone will then finish the story by walking the sixth chair and completing the sentence (for example “And ever since that day pigs and chickens have been the best of friends”

    3. The story, so far, is repeated in full

    4. The next person will fill seat 3 and create the problem that needs to be overcome (for example “until one day a volcano erupted in Iceland and the air was filled with volcanic ash”)

    5. The story, so far, is repeated in full

    6. The remaining seats (2, 4 and 5) can now be filled in any order with the story, so far, being repeated in full after each seat is filled

    7. The team need to make the story make sense and can iterate, gather feedback from the audience etc until they are happy with it

    Learning Points: 

    • This exercise is analogous to how user stories get created and developed. The start and end is often defined and then a problem is introduced that the team need to collaborate around to make it make sense
    • A great way to get the team thinking creatively before tackling a tricky problem
    • Teams contributing to a solution that no one person can take credit for (collaboration)
    • The concept of accepting change within the context of a specific goal

    Variations: 

    1. Try different story part structures e.g. “and the funny thing was…” or “and the moral of the story is…” or “but to everyone’s surprise…”
    2. Make the story longer by adding extra chairs
    3. Throw in a random character, place or activity that the team need to incorporate into the story
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    The Sprint Mural

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard although we have a sense that something like this has been done before we couldn’t recall who or where…

    Timing:

    30 minutes

    Materials:

    Large whiteboard or roll of white paper

    Appropriate drawing, colouring or painting materials

    Instructions:

    • Ask the team to draw/paint their interpretation of the Sprint. This is usually done on a large whiteboard/sheet of paper.
    • It is also usually done in silence and all at the same time (although see variations below)
    • This can then lead into the other stages to explore what the images are (gather data), what they mean (gather insights) and so on.

    Learning Points: 

    • Exploring the more visual side of the brain to look back at the Sprint in a more abstract way
    • By doing this in silence we shouldn’t be overly influencing one another
    • By all contributing we will be inviting questions and explanations of the interpretations
    • A great visual capture of the team’s experiences which could, over time, be collated into a storybook of the project

    Variations:

    1. You may close the retrospective by asking the team to repeat the exercise and see what the picture looks like then.
    2. Ask each team member to draw their picture of the Sprint in isolation and then present them back to the team/create a gallery
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    The Sprint Limerick

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard

    Timing:

    30-45 minutes

    Materials:

    None

    Instructions:

    Ask the team to create a limerick to sum up the Sprint or perhaps even team values

    • A limerick has 5 lines with a specific rhythm
    • Line 1 rhymes with lines 2 and line 5
    • Line 3 rhymes with line 4

    For example:

    A Scrum team can be very wise
    Because they self organise
    They’ll emerge the design
    Along sensible lines
    While making sure nobody fries

    Or:

    A FOCUSSED and fresh engineer
    Had COURAGE to be a Scrum heir
    “OPENNESS is” said he
    “with COMMITMENT, the key”
    “And RESPECT for colleagues is fair

    Or:

    A key to Scrum is the backlog
    Without one the project’s a slog
    Although you might jest
    Dig DEEP and INVEST
    To help you see through all the fog

    Or:

    A development team I once met
    Had ran up great technical debt
    Their code legacy history
    Had become quite a mystery
    But they applied Scrum and now do not fret

    Or:

    A development team who can’t estimate
    I am sure will always be late
    Those who correctly timebox
    Make software that rocks
    And all investments return a good rate

    Or:

    Quick, hurry up, go faster
    This timebox it will not last-a
    Oh you’re such a moaner
    Said the Product Owner
    It’s my job said our harried ScrumMaster

    Learning Points: 

    • Just a bit of fun really

    Variations:

    1. Try a less structured poetry format
    2. Or a song
    3. See if the team can build up a number of verses over the course of the project
    4. Agree some key concepts as a team first, then split up into smaller groups (pairs or triplets) and compare versions as a group.
    5. Set a small time box, read out what you have got so far, get some feedback and try a second iteration as you hear things from other pairs you might be able to incorporate into yours.
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    Rating: 2.6/5 (5 votes cast)

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    Once Upon A Time In Legoland

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was co-created as part of a collaboration day between myself and Paul Goddard

    Timing:

    60 minutes

    Materials:

    A lot of Lego

    (Optional) A Digital Camera and Photo printer

    Instructions:

    Preparation

    Ask the group to come up with:

    1. a person from history,
    2. a colour and
    3. an object.

    Construct a title out of these e.g. The story of Napoleon and the yellow pillow

    Set the challenge:

    1. To create a storyboard of this story by building scenes made from Lego.
    2. There will be 3 sprints of 12 minutes (2m plan, 7m build & 3m review)
    3. Each sprint must contain a start and end of the story and be in line with the vision (title)
    4. Each scene must contain some action

    If there are multiple teams playing:

    • At the end of Sprint one ask each team to think of a location and then gave Team 1’s location to Team 2 and so on. This location must then be incorporated into their story.
    • At the end of Sprint two, ask them to think of a leisure activity or a secondary character which will then be given to another team

    If only one team is playing, throw in a location or character etc yourself

    Learning Points: 

    • How a vision + self-organisation can create a successful product
    • Refactoring is necessary (and a good thing)
    • Getting something done (vertical slice) each sprint (start and finish)
    • Do something simple first then embellish
    • How self-organising teams can be very creative
    • Teams must be able to accommodate change while maintaining a consistent theme
    • Seeing results at the end of the sprint is useful and motivational
    • There should be a sense of pride about what they create

    Variations: 

    1. Expand the “definition of done” to include a photograph of each scene
    2. Incorporate feedback from “stakeholders” (the other teams) into the planning of the next Sprint
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    Movements of a Hypnotic Nature

    October 23rd, 2012

    This exercise was graciously and generously shared with the Scrum training community by Brent Barton back in 2007

    Timing:

    60-90 minutes

    Materials:

    Play-doh, rubber bands, golf balls, golf tees and rulers

    Instructions:

    I need a new product for my unique company called “Movements of a Hypnotic Nature.”
    You have been selected as participants because of your skill and past performance.
    I want each team to submit a design solution using the following information:

    • The design should be pleasing to the eye
    • The design must have some or all parts of it that move
    • The design’s movement should be able to be started intuitively
    • The design’s movement should stop gracefully on its own
    • The movement’s total travel should measure a minimum of 5 inches
    • The design must use the existing materials in other product lines to contain costs

    Brent recounted:

    As I presented this to the class, a participant called out, “Where are the requirements?”

    I said, “These are the requirements.”

    Someone else muttered, “What requirements?”

    Another one joked, “These look like our customer’s requirements!”

    About twenty people responded, “You’re right…”

     

    Because the requirements have subjective and objective aspects, teams are forced into cross-functional roles. The exercise format is:

    Sprint 1

    Planning 1 – 5 minutes

    Iteration 1 – 8 minutes

    Review 1 – 8 minutes

    Sprint 2

    Planning 2 – 5 minutes

    Iteration 2 – 8 minutes

    Review 2 – 8 minutes

    We do reviews each Sprint with every team and involve the whole class. Our observations during Sprint 2 include: some teams deconstruct and re-architect fully while others improve on the existing design. This is our opportunity to compare and contrast iterative and incremental development (a source of problems for some).

    So far, there have been amazing solutions. Some designs are great-looking, some are fun and quirky, and some have incredibly unique technical solutions. Some have all these characteristics. While some solutions are not very good, I like that this exercise hasn’t yielded a failure because this is not part of the learning intent.

    Learning Points: 

    • The value of early customer feedback
    • The value of design and execution strategy (versus tasking)
    • How cross-functional, autonomous teams lead to innovation
    • Experiencing iterative and incremental development
    • Dealing with subjective (non-functional) requirements in agile projects
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    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

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