Save the World, Save Your Team - Shifting Mindsets through Cooperative Board Gaming

"Can you save humanity? You and your team are the only things standing in the way of deadly diseases that threaten the world. The fate of humanity is in your hands." - description of "Pandemic" from Z-Man Games

Game on! But can a game really teach me something about being Agile? How can a board game save my team?

In this interactive workshop, we'll explore how cooperative board gaming relates to the work of Agile teams. We'll dive head-first into the Agile nature of "Pandemic" through gameplay in small groups and then retrospect to identify similarities and differences between cooperative board gaming and Agile team behaviors. We'll discover how the patterns observed during gameplay can be used to help identify possible dysfunction within your team. You will leave this session with the ability to use cooperative board gaming with your own teams to inspire new ways of thinking, shift mindsets, and increase team engagement.


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

  • Introduction and opening remarks (5 min)
  • Rules Overview and Breaking into Teams (5 min)
  • Gameplay (55 min) - It's likely that most tables will complete a full game, but some might not. Each table will have seen enough of the game to participate fully in the Retro and Discussion.
  • Retrospective and Discussion (20 min)
  • Closing (5 min)

Participants will receive a worksheet at the start of the session and a takeaway document recapping the discussion at the end.

Learning Outcome

As a workshop participant, I want to:

  • Understand how cooperative board gaming can be used as a retrospective technique so that I can improve my teams.
  • Learn how to relate cooperative board gaming to the cooperative nature of my team's work so that I can help them can self-reflect on their own actions.
  • Be comfortable putting on a cooperative board gaming workshop of my own so that I can help shift the mindset of my team, company, or client.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Coaches and Leaders looking to shift mindsets of their organizations and teams.

Prerequisites for Attendees

We'll be exploring the game itself and teaching it as if the participants have never played. Past familiarity with the game is a plus, but not at all required.

Retrospective andDiscussion will ask the participants to compare and contrast their "team" in the room with their real-life work team, so experience working on a Scrum / Agile team will aide in this discussion, but is not necessary.

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

  • Mariya Breyter

    Mariya Breyter - Scaling Up and Out with Agile OKRs

    Mariya Breyter
    Mariya Breyter
    Agile Coach
    Goldman Sachs
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins

    "You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation." ~ Homer Rice

    Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) have been well known for decades now, and John Doerr's book on Measuring What Matters became a hit immediately after it was published. However, while OKRs as a concept seems logical and straightforward, many companies struggle with implementing this concept in an aligned and inspirational way. As an Agile coach implementing OKRs in multiple large organizations, I experience three major anti-patterns:

    1. OKRs are implemented top-down. OKRs are not KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are top-down arbitrary numbers provided by management to each employee at the beginning of a long-term period (usually a year). OKRs are set by teams, not individuals, and aligned with organizational objectives. In that, OKRs are inspirational and encourage teams to set up the objectives that motivate them and inspire self-organizing teams to make a difference.
    2. OKRs are used to measure performance and define compensation. Unlike KPIs which are used to measure performance and this influences compensation and promotions, OKRs are not related to performance in any way. Numbers are easy to game, and connecting OKRs to performance would negate the purpose of those. OKRs need to be aspirational and hard to achieve, and by doing that, the teams challenge them to continuously grow and become high-performing. This is the reason OKRs are self-graded, not measured by the managers.
    3. OKRs are focused on activities, not results. Frequently, OKRs are focused on activities or tasks, e.g. provide 100 training sessions, hire 300 employees, create a Playbook covering 50 topics. While sometimes there is a reason for task-based key results, in most cases, the objective is either customer-related (e.g. customer satisfaction), business objective (e.g. revenue growth), employee-related (e.g. retention data), or a related goal. In either case, it forces teams to pivot if the initial set of activities does not bring the intended result and fail forward to pursue the goal. (OKR example)

    During the workshop, we will be playing two OKR-setting games. The goal of these games is to experience in practice how to avoid common mistakes and set up cascading OKRs bottom-up by empowering teams, aligning divisions, and keeping the organizational objectives in focus - all of this while keeping employees motivated and inspired. Finally, we will discuss how OKRs empower teams to self-organize while achieving shared goals within a scaled agile environment.