This game focuses on building high-performance Organizations and explores options for an Organization to understand itself and the current state of the work to bring about real, ongoing change.
You use a Portfolio Kanban board as your playing surface. The playing cards are Kanban cards that represent your Product Backlog (Features), plus cards that represent personalities (Personas) as well as challenges (Gremlins) that Organizations must navigate.
Each table will represent one Organization that is trying to improve.
The players on each team will take on the roles of Senior Management, the ScrumMaster, and the Product Owner. Each table starts off with one Scrum team represented and several Managers and may expand through gameplay to additional teams. Anywhere from 4-9 players. Effectively they will compose an Organizational Improvement Team.
Each player receives a role description explaining the character they should play. Real companies have politics and people often have competing agendas – the player sheets are meant to simulate that. *When run at private companies, skip the role cards and just play as yourself.
Play focuses on challenges faced in any modern, medium to large-sized company on a journey to become Agile, such as:
- Short-term client demands and indecisive executives
- The belief that if we just demand that teams work harder, they can and will
- Production support issues
- Regression problems
- Fundamental misunderstandings of Agile by the executives
- Features delivered that don’t satisfy customers
The game is won not by producing the most features, but by delighting customers. Customer happiness is determined by whether or not they pay you for the features you produce.
Players will learn about Portfolio Kanban and Portfolio Management. They will also get an introduction to Systems Thinking and Organizational Improvement. As a result, they will have an introduction as to what it will take to grow their Organization’s performance.
This is a budget-based game: in any round, the players can invest in User Stories, Improvements for their team, or Improvements for all teams. In each round, the Organizational Improvement team will gain access to a growing list of tools (some good, some bad) to help ‘fix’ the problems that come up.
We’d Love Your Feedback
Please let us know your comments and suggestions, so we can consider them for future improvements. And send us a photo of your team playing the game!
Related Reference Links:
Map your Kanban wall. This video and accompanying text explain how.
Prosocial bonuses – the alternative to team bonuses that we tried in the game:
- A summary of Prosocial Bonuses – The Best Bonus Is One You Can’t Spend on Yourself
- The original paper – Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance
More reference material from discussions during game play:
- How Rally Does Strategy Deployment
- Agile at Scale with Hoshin Kanri
- Strategy Deployment: the Secret Sauce for Enterprise Agility
- Kanban Deployment with the X-Matrix
- How Rally Does Annual and Quarterly Planning
Images by Agile Pain Relief Consulting unless otherwise noted.
Mark is an independent Certified Scrum Trainer since 2011 and Agile coach. Mark brings over 10 years of Agile experience with an emphasis on Certified ScrumMaster Training, Agile Coaching, and Team Launch Workshops
In 2009, Mark founded Agile Pain Relief with the mission of providing consulting and training for organizations seeking the benefits of Agile methods. As its principal, Mark has introduced and mentored developers, managers, and executives in organizations throughout Canada on Scrum, Lean, and Agile methods through hands-on training.