The Addiction Game
Addiction: persistently engaging in compulsive behavior which the addict knows to be harmful.
Even the smartest teams and organizations can have addictions. It’s about habits and practices over time, not intelligence. And there is plenty you can do about it.
The Addiction Game’s playing board is a diagram of the way addiction works – a quick feedback path for short-term relief, coupled with a slower feedback path for destructive consequences of the addictive behavior. Players nominate an addictive pattern, then take turn placing cards to identify its triggers, rewards, and painful effects. Addictive behaviors can include skipping tests, placing blame, writing long methods, and many more. Any destructive behavior that is self-reinforcing is a fair target for this game.
Using prohibition - “Just say no” – to stop an addiction merely compounds the problem. An organization demanding ever higher velocity numbers from its Agile teams (addicted to the illusion of control) will find the teams redefining the meaning of story points to give bigger numbers.
Prohibition is a static solution to a systemic problem. That’s why it doesn’t work. Using the game board we will play out Jerry Weinberg’s 3-step addiction cure:
- Stop doing X.
- Find an alternative solution Z that really works (and doesn’t create long term problems).
- Soften the short term pain, if necessary, but not with X.
Outline/structure of the Session
10 min Intro and game rules
10 min Sample guided play
15 min - simple addiction model game play
20 min - addiction model play with prohibition
10 min - apply Weinberg's addiction cure steps
10 min debrief and wrap up
- Recognize the elements of the addiction cycle in the team/ organization
- Be able to analyze the dynamics of the reward cycle and the pain cycle of addictive behaviors
- Understand why simple prohibition makes addiction worse
- Understand ways to break addiction and why they work
Agile team members, Product Owners, Functional managers (of people on Agile teams), Coaches, ScrumMasters
schedule Submitted 1 year ago
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