Agile Speed Dating

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Time: 70 minutes for 6 participants

Requirements: IndexCards, felt-pens and a flip-chart

First, all Participants need a Topic they would like to improve or a Problem which need to be solved, their personal improvement Topic for this Retrospective.

Give Participants 5 Minutes to write down up to 5 KeyWords/Sentences on an IndexCard which helps them describing their Topic they want to improve or Problem to be solved. (5 min)

Afterwards you ask Participants to flip the IndexCard and give them again 5 Minutes to draw a Picture, a Metaphor, for their Topic which helps them describing their Topic in a best way. No prizes for Artwork and nobody else will see their Picture, it’s just a reminder for themselves. (5 min)

Start the amazing Speed Dating

Agile Speed Dating exerciseAfter this first exercise, which takes about 10 Minutes, you have all Participants in the right flow and mood for a discussion about their Topic. You have activated both sides of their brain, the left side for rational thinking by writing down the 5 KeyWords/Sentences. And the right side of their brain, the creative part, by drawing a Picture. This is the best starting Point for what is coming next.

Let Participants pair and give them a strict TimeBox. Every Pair has exactly 10 Minutes. First 5 Minutes to discuss the Topic of Person A and finding possible Solutions or Improvements – write them down on your IndexCard – if needed take a new Card.

After 5 Minutes the Pairs change, what means that now Person B will discuss her Topic and write down possible Solutions or Improvements.

After 10 Minutes you build new Pairs and start the exercise again, first Person has 5 Minutes and Person B has 5 Minutes as well. Build new Pairs and repeat until every Participant has talken exactly once to all other Participants!

Debriefing

Agile Speed Dating Debriefing

  • how does it felt, how do you feel right now?
  • what was different?
  • what outcome have you created?
  • can we improve this Process?

Action Planning

Agile Speed Dating - Action Planning

After the Debriefing we start the Action Planning. Every Participant should have at least one IndexCard with possible Solutions or Improvements for her personal Topic.

Ask every Participant to choose just one Action she would like to adress in the next Sprint, choose the most powerful Action and write them down on a FlipChart – Topic, Responsible and due Date.

Variations

If you have an odd count of Participants just invite another Stakeholder or a TeamMember of a different Team. This Person has no own Topic to discuss but can contribute, comment and add Value from a complete neutral point of view!

Instead of doing Speed Dating with pairs you can also ‘pair’ with three people if you have some more participants. In that case you can call the exercise ‘Agile Swinger Dating’… lol

Scrum Simulation – the Scrum LEGO® Airport

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you’ll find the download link for the manual at the bottom of the page

The Idea of a Scrum Simulation with LEGO®

Scrum LEGO Airport at Global Scrum Gathering SeattleIn the beginning of the year 2011 I had the idea for a Scrum Simulation with LEGO®. A Scrum Simulation which needs to be scalable. Scalable for Teams with different stages of knowledge about Scrum. Useful for Beginners as well as Advanced. Usable as a Simulation for ‘easy’ Scrum as well as a Simulation for Scrum of Scrums. Feasible to run with 1 to x Teams. Interesting especially for Software Developers and technical Freaks. In addition, people should learn the Scrum Workflow, it’s Artefacts and Meetings by having a lot of fun.

the Airport Team ILEGO® is a plaything everybody knows, all around the world. As I’m a StrategicPlay® Facilitator, a creative Problem solving Solution with LEGO® based on LEGO® Serious Play, I know how to use LEGO® in a serious context with a joshing course.

ambulanceAn Airport is a complex enterprise system with lots of complex dependencies and lots of technical interfaces. Nearly everybody knows how an Airport works or rather the workflow starting by leaving the car at the parking lot, check in the luggage, receiving a boarding-card till having a seat in a plane. And when arriving at the destination, you want to have your luggage back at the baggage claim.

Hence the idea of a Scrum Simulation with LEGO® in a context of an airport seemed for me an interesting challenge to cover my demand of a scalable approach.

Scrum LEGO® Airport @ Scrum Safari, Cape Town, 2011

Thus I created the Scrum Simulation, Scrum LEGO®Airport with the following scalable stages:

—>

1,5h Appetizer – conference format

Prerequisites: some Scrum Basics

Participants: 5 to 50 ppl + n Observer

4h stand alone Economic Simulation with Focus on Scrum Basics

Prerequisites: no background required

Participants: 5 to 50 ppl + n Observer

8h Beginners combined with a basic Scrum Training

Prerequisites: no background required

Participants: 5 to 21 ppl

8h Advanced combined with a Team Visioning Session with StrategicPlay®

Prerequisites: experience with Scrum

Participants: 1 Team

What do People learn in the Scrum LEGO® Airport Simulation?

Team Story BoardPragmatic understanding that Scrum is about self-organizing Teams, Cooperation, Communication, Understanding, Respecting People, Teamwork, Creativity and Productivity.

Understanding the Scrum Workflow by building valuable products for the customer in each Sprint Sprint demowhich can be delivered after every iteration. Understand what needs to be build first so that the customer can start transporting people after the first sprint and add value from Sprint to Sprint so that the enterprise ‘Airport’ can grow constantly and the customer can grow her business.

I ran the Scrum LEGO® Airport at

different Company’s

Global Scrum Gathering Seattle, May 2011

Scrum Gathering South Africa, September 2011

Agile Prague, September 2011

Download the manual:  Manual the password for the file is vinylbaustein

Agile Meteorites

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Time: 15 – 25 minutes (10 – 30 people)

Requirements: a stopwatch, different balls or toys for pets

Objective: Icebreaker, simulation of flow and TeamWork – Varaiation of that is the BallPoint Game

(out of Erich Ziegler’s ‘das australische Schwebholz)

Get to know each other

The whole group is standing in a circle – including the facilitator, he is the starting and end point. The facilitator starts to throw a ball to a person – establish eye contact before you throw the ball – this is important for all participants!

The person who catches the ball call out loud her full name. It is important that the person who has thrown the ball memorizes the full name of the person who catched the ball, needed for the next round. Now the person who catched the ball throws it to the next person with the same purpose – the person who catches the ball call out loud her name and the person who has thrown it memorizes the full name. At the end of the first round the ball took a zigzag round through the circle, so that everybody gets the ball exactly once and the ball is back where it started – at the facilitator.

Meteorites - Flow

Note: everybody need to take care that the ball does not fall to the ground!

Get into the flow

Starting the second round.

The facilitator establishes eye contact to the person he has thrown the ball in the first round, calls her name out loud and throws the ball to that person again. The person who catches the ball continue, establishes eye contact to the next person of the first round, calls her name out loud and throws the ball to that person again and so on.

A second time the ball zigzags through the circle in same order as before. This order is maintained throughout the whole game.

Let the ball flow through the circle for two rounds. When starting a third round, more and more balls (or toys) are brought into the game by the facilitator.

Target is to get into the flow, take care that people are concentrated and that the group takes care of each other.

After some rounds, the facilitator removes every ball (or toy) which arrives at him until the whole flow stops as there are no more items in the game anymore.

Ask the group what they observed and how has it felt.

Starting the Teamwork Challenge

The facilitator steps out of the circle and picks up the Stopwatch.

The person who catched the ball from the facilitator in the rounds before is now the start and end point. The objective now is to reach the best time the ball, just one in this level, need to flow once through the whole circle in the maintained order. The time starts when the first person throws the ball and is stopped when it reaches her again.

You will reach about 1:30 min in the first round, playing this game with approximately 20 people.

Challenge them to do better – let them find their own shape – they don’t need to stand in a circle anymore but the maintained order is still a precondition and that the person who starts throwing the ball is also still the end point. It is also required that every person touches the ball exactly once.

Perhaps they will find a shape which looks like the following picture. Be aware that this shape requires that the person who starts throwing the ball runs to the end point after starting the game so that she is able to catch the ball at the end.

Meteorites - Flow - Solution 1

Maybe they will reach a time about 45 seconds now.

Challenge them that they can do better – best result for a group of this size is 13 seconds!

After 2 or 3 rounds they will probably shape into one big cluster, forming their hands recreating a tube top down. The first person drops the ball in the tube at the top, get down to the floor and catches the ball when it arrives at the ground.
Maybe they find a complete other solution.
What is important, they now will work as a team, trying to reach the best time.

Now you don’t have a group anymore, you have created a working team. They might reach a time about 10-15 seconds.

Ask them what they observed, how it felt to be challenged and how they feel right now.

Make a debriefing and close the game!

Draw the Problem / Draw the Challenge

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Time: 90 minutes

Requirements: IndexCards, felt-pens, tape, sticky notes and a flip-chart

Create a loose atmosphere

Every Retrospective I start with a short warm up game to create a loose atmosphere and interconnect left and right half of the brain. Today I did ‘Finger Tag’ from Erich Ziegler’s ‘das australische Schwebholz’. (5 min)

Start the Retrospective ‘Draw the Problem’

Let participants sit around a table and give everybody a large IndexCard and a felt-pen.

Ask the participants to think about a problem or challenge which occoured during the sprint and they are still puzzled about. What problem would you like to solve today?

Ask them to find their personal topic and write it down. In addition, everybody should create a list of 5 items which helps them to describe the problem.  (5 min)

Now, ask the participants to flip over the index card and let them draw a picture – a metaphor – of the problem which helps them to describe their topic to the team. It’s not about drawing an artwork or creating a very beautiful picture. The drawing simply should help explaining the problem. (have different coloured felt-pens available) (5 min)

Teams draw their ChallengeAsk everybody to post their index card on the wall with the picture at the front and name them.

Let participants stand in a semi circle around the picture wall. Every peer has now max 3 minutes to describe her problem-metaphor to the team and create a common understanding what it is about. Questions from the team are allowed. (15 – 21 min)

After creating a common understanding for every problem, ask the team to sit down again and have sticky notes available. Everybody should write down one possible solution or action item on a sticky note for every single problem. (5 min)

draw the picture - StoryBoardLet them post their solutions around the index cards and again stand in a smie circle around the ‘problem wall’.

Now, every indexs card owner read aloud the solutions given by the team and let the initiator of the solution explain if necessary.

Let them discuss the solutions and create concrete action items which the facilitator writes down on a flip chart.

This takes the most time as the team need to decide what needs to be done to solve each problem. (35 – 45 min)

Write down every Action Item, referred to a teammember with a due date.

action items Matrix

Wrap up the retrospective and ask if everybody is fine with the outcome. Ask for feedback.

Take over the Action Items to the process Backlog of the Team.

Idea by Gamestorming ‘Draw the Problem’ which I adapted to my purpose of having a Sprint Retrospective

how I became a certified StrategicPlay® Facilitator

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standard LEGO brickWhen I was a child, I was addicted to playing with LEGO®. It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up at 4-5 o’clock in the morning, even before going to the kindergarten or later to school, dump my tons of LEGO® in my whole playroom and start building models, spacecrafts, airplanes, fantasy buildings – whatever came to my mind.

This didn’t change until I get my first computer – at the age of 11!

I sold all my LEGO® for next to nothing at a flea market when I was 12 years old and never was sorry about that until nearly 2 and a half years ago.

LegoStoreAt that time, I had a walk through the city of Cologne and discovered a LEGO® store. I stopped gazing at the showcase and was totally fascinated to see Star Wars models built with LEGO®. I just had to enter the store and at that moment my mind changed immediately into the mindset of a young boy.

I walked through the store and was looking at all the bricks with the eyes of a 10-year-old. Incredible!

After this event I found myself more often in the toy department when I went shopping. And even more often, I bought LEGO® bricks or sets instead of buying food.

One year ago a key event happened. As I have been an Agile Project Manager and Certified ScrumMaster for about 3 years now, I was participating in an agile training in my company in spring last year as we are currently working on an agile transition to change the way we work.

We had a three-day training on agile principles and methods with external coaches. On the second day there was an agenda topic which was strangely called hands-on solutions with LEGO®.

I was delighted by the prospect of playing with LEGO® but had no idea which serious background this might be.

Olaf Lewitz, a StrategicPlay® Facilitator, did a workshop based on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™ (LSP). InStrategicPlay logo the beginning Olaf explained that LSP is a methodology for exploring and dealing with real opportunities and issues in real time and that it’s a process for groups and teams for thinking, communicating and problem solving. Amazing!

We had an interesting session with lots of fun in team building with StrategicPlay®. What a great experience. We used LEGO® for getting insights we never would reach by a simple discussion. My brain starts sprinting by these exercises. Awesome!

After this three-day training on agile principles which I helped organizing, Deborah Preuss, one of our agile coaches, asked me if I would be interested to help organizing a conference for agile games. I was delighted that she asked me and as I love to play serious games it was a pleasure for me, even if I did not know how such a conference could look like.

Some weeks later I was invited to participate in a two day planning workshop for that conference.

Hamburg WappenI arrived at a Friday morning in Hamburg and was a little bit late. When I entered the office where all the organizers for that conference met, I started to realize where I was: It was the office of Jens Hoffmann from Hoffmann Consulting and his wife Katrin Elster from StrategicPlay®. They share a big office. Was that real? I was at the heart of StrategicPlay®, the heartbeat of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™? I was overwhelmed and daunted in once and a little bit nervous. There were 10 people sitting around a large table and I took a seat too.

This was the beginning of two days full of creativity, inspiration, energy and pure passion. Katrin, Mrs. StrategicPlay®, facilitated the planning workshop as a large StrategicPlay® session based on LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY™. It was incredible; we created the vision for the unconference for games for agile teams.

Katrin did an amazing job. After some warm up exercises with LEGO®, everybody started to build his own vision for this unconference. Afterwards we all build a shared model together where all individual relevant vision parts were put together to one common and broader vision. The Play4Agile was born!

We all had a great weekend in Hamburg and at this point I’d like to thank all participants for this experience which was unique for me. Thanks to Katrin Elster, Christine Neidhardt, Deborah Preuss, Ilja Preuß, Jens Hoffmann, Olaf Lewitz, Martin Heider, Jens Korte, Heiko Stapf and Andreas Thier. From the start of these two days I felt like arriving at home!!!

Some weeks after this impressive experience, Olaf facilitated a second, more extensive session with LSP in our R&D Site in Trier at my employer. Topic: ‘How to build a framework fit for feature teams’. And the outcome was one more time absolutely incredible! All critical voices from the beginning, ‘we don’t want to play LEGO®, we need to work on our issues’ went silent. Out of this second session we extracted guiding principles we’re still following.

My third session with LEGO® convinced me that I had to learn these StrategicPlay® Facilitator skills because it is such a great tool for gaining insights about oneself, impacts you’re struggling with and how to solve them. It creates a valuable outcome which no human brain is able to obtain by discussing, brainstorming or even just thinking about. You design strategies you should concentrate on for reaching a special goal. And most of all – it seemed that this tool was especially created for me!

passion in StroyTellingThus it was unavoidable that I participated in the StrategicPlay® Facilitator training by Katrin Elster and learned how to use this fascinating tool in a serious way. Last week I received my Certificate as a StrategicPlay® Facilitator and I’m looking forward to create my first workshop on my own to help teams and organizations to focus on realizing goals by using creativity.

In addition, at the last weekend the Play4Agile (#p4a11) unconference for Games for Agile Teams, which we started planning last year in Hamburg based on StrategicPlay® took place in lovely Rückersbach, near Frankfurt. It was a great success, participants loved it and I see so much overwhelming comments on Twitter about #p4a11. Great!

Today, three days after this unconference, I’m still totally energized by this happening, meeting friends, new friends and most of all we are all loving Serious Games and also some silly games which were just fun.

Yes, Serious Play rocks and I’m looking forward to facilitate my first workshop with LEGO®! Huuuuuuaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

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