Going with the Flow – Games for Understanding Product Development Flow

Many of us having been heavily influenced by Don Reinertsen’s “Principles of Product Development Flow” and others who have advocated a focus on flow based optimization.  Unfortunately, some of the key premises for optimizing flow are counterintuitive and counter to traditional practices.  For example, the supposed benefits and the economies of scale with large batch sizes, or the belief that systems are optimized when the utilization of individual resources are optimized.  Given these beliefs, how can we show in a simple and objectives way that these long held views and associated practices are actually counterproductive to our end goals?  With games of course!  This workshop will introduce dice games that demonstrate in a Scrum and Kanban context how small batches and a focus on flow vs. optimizing utilization leads to better team outcomes.  Participants will be organized into teams of 4-5 people and play a game that simulates—in a fun way—the complexities of real product development work.  Each team member will have an assigned skill that aligns with an activity type (e.g., analyst, developer, tester) in the team work flow.  Each “story” to be worked will require varying levels of effort for each activity type.  The dice provide the variability inherent in knowledge based work, with each roll determining how much “work” each person can accomplish in a fictional day.  The quantifiable results of the game will demonstrate how a focus on flow can help lead to better team outcomes, providing attendees with a new tool for helping others understand why they should “go with the flow”.

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Outline/structure of the Session

This workshop is game based, with minimal formal presentation material.  Attendees will play a series of dice  based games and compare the outcomes associated with different variations for organizing the work and workers.

Learning Outcome

A better understanding of why focusing on the flow of value through a system leads to better outcomes than more traditional approaches, such as maximizing utilization of resources.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Agile coaches, Business Leaders, Managers, or anyone else looking to improve program & team performance

schedule Submitted 1 week ago

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