Balloons, Rice, and Folded Paper - Secret Tools for Learning (and Teaching) Agile

Experience agile in a fun, insightful, high energy, simulation where you will work in iterations to build products, test them, and apply feedback.  You will participate on a team and use a backlog, business values, sizing, and prioritization.  You’ll plan, execute, deliver, and reflect.  

This session is a great way for you to experience working on a team in quick iterations and to see first hand how team members can gel quickly, combine skills, learn by doing, and achieve together.  If you have  been working on teams for a while, this simulation will help you see your current process in new ways and open up new opportunities for improvement.  

Don’t worry, no technical skills are required - anybody can participate.  We have run this exercise with a number of different groups and the results are consistent - lots of energy, lots of insights that can be taken back to the real world, and lots of fun!

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

*The "Slides" link includes a small number of photos showing what the activity typically looks like when active*

Timing

20 minutes - Icebreaker and Introduction to the workshop and the mechanics

150 minutes - 3 iterations of approximately 50 minutes per iteration

The bulk of the session will be spent conducting three iterations. Each iteration contains the following steps:

5 minutes - Individual Teams - Reviewing and grooming the product backlog. (including acceptance criteria and story sizing)

5 minutes -  Individual Teams - Iteration Planning

15 minutes -  Individual Teams - Executing the iteration

5 minutes -  Individual Teams - Sprint Review and Retrospective

20 minutes - Whole group debrief on the sprint

 

15 - Nature Break between either iterations 1 and 2 or iterations 2 and 3. We can coordinate the timing with any conference plans for a scheduled snack/beverage break.

30 - Closing Debrief. This exercise typically generates pretty deep insights. We need to allow plenty of debrief time.

 

Note: This game is based on, and builds on, the XP Game developed by Vera Peeters (Tryx) and Pascal Van Cauwenberghe (Nayima)

 

Learning Outcome

  • Practice with relative story sizing
  • Practice clarifying acceptance criteria
  • Velocity-driven planning
  • The value of testing, and test-first
  • The value limiting Work-In-Progress (WIP)
  • Practice swarming on tasks
  • Practice adapting using feedback
  • Scrum roles (PO, SM, Team)

Target Audience

Developers, Testers, Scrum Masters, those new to agile, and those looking for a new technique for experiential learning

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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  • Rick Waters
    By Rick Waters  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    This is a wonderful proposal, and exercise!  I've been a part of Dan and Susan's exercise in the past - as both a student and a co-facilitator.  The messages in this exercise are crystal clear, the activities are well coordinated and the presenters are top-notch!


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