Developed by Alistair Cockburn, this amazing workshop seems to be about learning how to slice stories extremely thinly, but with every round I've run proves to be so much more.  After group discussions of why small stories are a good idea, value delivery curves, and techniques for splitting stories, participants build a backlog for a small application.  Then, in five eight-minute sprints, they build it!  The workshop typically closes with rich conversations about the experience and how participants will apply it to their work.

For Agile Games 2015, I would like to extend the session to help others learn how to facilitate this workshop.  I believe it is a must-have in the toolkit of every coach working with software developers in an Agile context.  While you can use Cockburn's instructions or Henrik Kniberg's excellent facilitation guide, I'd love to help people get a head start through experiencing the workshop and talking to someone who has run it before.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Group Discussions

  • Value of small stories
  • Value delivery curves
  • Story slicing techniques

Backlog Building
Users break into groups of 2-3 (2 is better) and begin building their backlog for the small retail calculator we will build.  We come back to group discussions to check in on progress, share discoveries, and then get back to developing the backlog.

Product Development
Groups build the application in five eight-minute sprints.  At the end of each sprint, they demo their work to other groups, but the clock keeps ticking, so they get back to work quickly!

Closing Discussion
Teams go through final acceptance testing and we discuss results.  We then discuss the experience, what works about it, what's surprising, and of course how we might bring the lessons back to our daily practice.

Facilitation Q&A
After a break, I'll sit with anyone interested in running Elephant Carpaccio for their organization and field questions about how to get started.  I can also hopefully help people avoid some of the pitfalls I've made!

Learning Outcome

  • Increased skill for splitting stories
  • Consciousness of value curves and why small stories make sense
  • Deeper understanding of story value, connected to an experience that puts this criterion front and center
  • For developers, the experience of working with extremely thin story slices
  • For everyone, an experience that will make the smallest of your current stories seem like epics in comparison

Target Audience

Developers, Product Owners, Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

  • Ron Quartel

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

    Ron Quartel
    Ron Quartel
    Agile Coach
    schedule 5 years ago
    Sold Out!
    60 Mins

    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