(English) Agile Jenga Testing Game

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I knew of this game for a while, but never quite got around to playing it until it came up in discussion during several conversations at Play4Agile 2016. I then went and found some relevant blog posts about the game, which I’ve noted below.

I have only run this once, but will do so regularly with my students as it works better as a learning aid than the previous game I was using.

Timing: You should be able to run this in about 45-60 minutes counting the debrief time. I only had a small group so I expect that you could have this go longer if you had more participants.


I set of Jenga blocks, from which you’ve taken 36 to use for the game and then numbered them on all sides accordingly. If you colour-code them in groups of 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36 then you’re ready for the game.

You will also want to have some sticky notes and a flipchart or something similar to aid facilitation.


Pick someone to be the developer, who is to build a structure with the blocks, and a tester who will remove specified blocks at the appropriate time. There are three rounds.

Round 1: Build a tower that is at least three stories tall and uses all of the blocks. The tester is given four numbers of ‘problem blocks’ which must be removed. This should be randomly picked by you, or a random number generator, or from others. The requirements still stand, that the structure should be three stories tall.

Round 2: Build a tower that is at least three stories tall and uses all of the blocks. This time, the developer is given the blocks in three separate batches: 1-12, 13-24, and 25-36. After each batch is used the tester tells the developer about the two ‘problem blocks’ in each batch and modifies the structure accordingly.

Round 3: The requirements are as before, and the blocks are done in the three batches again, but this time the tester can tell the developer which are the ‘problem blocks’ as they are prepared for use.

Playing agile testing with jenga

Learning Points:

This process moves participants from a planned approach to an agile approach with sprints and then to a pair programming approach. In each round the feedback opportunities become more useful. The obsevers should also notice that the ‘development’ goes faster too as ‘rework’ is reduced.


There could be lots more done with this approach too. For example, what happens with smaller batches, or how long it takes to ‘fix’ the ‘problem blocks’ in the different approaches could also be explored.

I found this at https://nandalankalapalli.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/game-test-small-test-often/ and there are also more extensive variations at http://tom-sylvester.com/lean-agile/simple-game-to-demonstrate-agile-concepts-test-small-test-often-jenga/ and at http://anagilemind.net/2014/10/27/agile-jenga/

I also later found out that Sam and Karen include this game in their ‘Growing Agile: A Coach’s Guide to Agile Testing‘ book.



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2 Responses to "(English) Agile Jenga Testing Game"
  • Tiffany %A %e %B %Y at %H:%M

    I recently conducted this game in our monthly QA Community of Practice. We had a few remote participants so they were the testers and watched the developers via video conference. We have quiet people in grooming and this group of QA people came to the conclusion that increasing their contribution during grooming would help move the team along faster and with higher quality. In addition to the standard debrief questions, I added, “What was it like being a developer?” Nearly everyone found some additional empathy for the developers. I closed the session with having each person write down one thing they would do differently this Sprint and share it with one other person. Several people told me it was the best CoP they’ve attended.

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  • Lisa Crispin %A %e %B %Y at %H:%M

    I believe Nanda Lankalapalli originated this game. He posted about it in 2011: http://poweragile.com/agile-testing/game-test-small-test-often/

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