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


60-90 minutes


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


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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