Running the Tech Debt Gauntlet. A game for teams and managers to understand how technical debt is created and removed in software development

A very easy to set up and play game about understanding technical debt. In 30 minutes, all players and observers will have had an A-HA moment of understanding on these topics :-

  • what technical debt is
  • how it gets created
  • how to remove it
  • how to stop it from ever being created again
  • what sustainable pace means for a development team

All development teams should be exposed to this game at some point to help them improve their development process and practices.

All development managers should be exposed to this game to help them understand the role they play in technical debt and eliminating it.

"Agile processes promote sustainable development. 
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able 
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely." - Principle behind the agile manifesto

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Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Game Setup (15 minutes)

Set up the "playing field" while describing what the setup steps are are what the artifacts mean

Get 6-9 volunteers to act as a development team, one volunteer to act as time keeper and a final volunteer for tracker.

Describe to everyone what they will be doing


Go! (15 minutes)

The game itself is both experiential for the participants and just as meaning to the observers. There is a message that gets through for everyone present.

The game is iterative and runs for at least three iterations with some brief discussion in between. During the game the facilitator plays the role of a pushy manager that is continually asking for the team to faster and produce more. I will switch between playing this role and describing what is going on.

Three iterations usually takes around 10-15 minutes.


Discuss observations and learning (20 minutes)

The is the whole point of the game - for management and team member to reach the A-HA moment of how teams have been creating and cripling themselves under technical debt and what they can do to begin climbing out of that debt. Also how ensure to never create it again. This will come out during the discussions and ovservations after the game. The facilitator will guide the discussion and capture the findings.


Ask for feedback (10 minutes)

With the remaining time I would like to get the participants feedback on the game and see if there are any improvments that could be made.


Learning Outcome

There is an A-HA moment in this game where Managers and Agile Development Team Members realize what they have been doing wrong in their current software development procedures to create debt. (It has never failed to achieve this yet.) That is the primary learning objective. Other associated topics that will typically get touched on are :-

  • Quality
  • Sustainable Pace
  • Dev + Test
  • Refactoring
  • Merciless Refactoring
  • Extreme Programming
  • Team estimation
  • Velocity
  • Slack

Target Audience

Developers, Managers, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners,

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

Public Feedback

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  • Ron Quartel
    By Ron Quartel  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    The slides are unrelated to the proposal - but the request was to add slides for another session if you had none.

    This session actually has no slides.

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    sasha simone
    Project Manager
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    Sold Out!
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