Objectives:

Learn about attributes and duties of a role. Verify what your students already know about the subject (complemented by a short lecture). Let your students learn from each other.

I’ve successfully used it with all three Scrum roles: the Development Team, the Product Owner and the ScrumMaster, but you can do it with roles from any framework or methodology.

Timing:

Highly depends on the number of participants and on the format adopted.

Materials:

Post-its, pens and a white board.

Number of Participants:

Well, as many as you like. Not less than two, for sure, and I’d recommend to do it with at least four.

Instructions:

There are several ways to do this. Here I’ll describe one, and you can see more at the “Variations” section.

Split the white board in a square with four quadrants, with enough room to stick a lot of post-its on each.

DO/DON’T

  1. Do a short lecture on the expected duties of the role in question (10 minuts top);
  2. On the top left quadrant, write “DO” and on the top right quadrant, write “DON’T”;
  3. Ask the participants to write on post-its what a person should and shouldn’t do while performing this role (one per post-it), and stick at the appropriate quadrant. I usually ask each three post-its for the quadrant “DO” and three post-its for the quadrant “DON’T”. And I usually give two or three minutes for that. But, you know, try it, inspect and adapt;
  4. Ask for one volunteer to go to the board, grab one post-it from the quadrant “DO”, turn to the class and say: “The <role name> should” and the post-it contents. Important: it does not have to be a post-it he/she wrote on;
  5. Ask for a new volunteer to grab one post-it from the quadrant “DON’T” and say: “The <role name> shouldn’t” and the post-it contents. Again, it does not have to be a post-it he/she wrote on.
  6. Ask for as many volunteers as you feel necessary to repeat that. If you prefer, each volunteer may read more than one post-it, and from both quadrants. It is interesting to change volunteers, so you promote movement and participation.

 

IS/ISN’T

  1. Do a short lecture on the expected attributes of the role in question (10 minuts top);
  2. On the bottom left quadrant, write “IS” and on the bottom right quadrant, write “ISN’T”;
  3. Ask the participants to write on post-its what a person should and shouldn’t be while performing this role (one per post-it), and stick at the appropriate quadrant. I usually ask each three post-its for the quadrant “IS” and three post-its for the quadrant “ISN’T”. And I usually give two or three minutes for that. But, you know, try it, inspect and adapt;
  4. Ask for one volunteer to go to the board, grab one post-it from the quadrant “IS”, turn to the class and say: “The <role name> should be” and the post-it contents. Important: it does not have to be a post-it he/she wrote on;
  5. Ask for a new volunteer to grab one post-it from the quadrant “ISN’T” and say: “The <role name> shouldn’t be” and the post-it contents. Again, it does not have to be a post-it he/she wrote on;
  6. Ask for as many volunteers as you feel necessary to repeat that. If you prefer, each volunteer may read more than one post-it, and from both quadrants. It is interesting to change volunteers, so you promote movement and participation.

 

Do/Don't/Is/Isn't Board

 

Key Points:

This is designed so that DO’s and DONT’s complement each other (by opposition). And then IS’s and ISNT’s, besides complementing each other (by opposition), complement the DO’s and DONT’s by making participants think what attributes are needed and what are undesirable to fulfill such duties.

If one or more of the points raised by the students is too wrong, you can make comments on it (perhaps, by asking questions) or ask if and why others agree or disagree.

Variations:

  1. You may use it without the lecture, to make your students check what they already know about the subject;
  2. You may also do the lecture after the exercise, and ask the students to verify what they would change on the board;
  3. You may do the DO/DON’T and the IS/ISN’T at the same time, if you are short in time (maybe by splitting the board in only two parts: DO/IS and DON’T/ISN’T). However, the students take more benefit from doing it separately.

4 thoughts on “Do/Don’t/Is/Isn’t”

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  2. Alternative I’ve been using: as a concrete practice, we split the class in three groups: one for the ScrumMaster, one for the Product Owner, one for the Dev Team. Each group will have one flip-chart paper divided in four quadrants, with DO/DON’T/IS/ISN’T. Each group will work for 3 minutes adding as many post-its for each quadrant as possible (minimum of 2 per quadrant).

    When the 3 minutes end, groups switch role, moving to one of the other roles in one of the other flip-chart papers. There, they will have three minutes to add at least one per quadrant, but also they must move any from one quadrant to another if it feels right. They cannot remove.

    When the 3 minutes end, groups switch role again, and work just like before (add at least one per quadrant, can move but not remove). Then we all debrief the three roles.

    By doing this, everyone works on all roles, and it is a lot more dynamic.

    I’d like to thank Bryan Stallings for some suggestions that led me to that change on the dynamics of the exercise!

  3. Great, Chuck! I’m glad to hear that. And I’ll be at Agile 2011 (I’m already at Salt Lake City), so maybe I will be able to see that in action.

  4. I’m using this as part of my agile 2011 presentation. – at least a variation for evaluating problem solving. Do, don’t, bad smell, good smell. Do and don’t are for things to do and not do for solving the problem, good smell is what to look for if it’s working, bad smell is what to look for if it’s making life worse. I’ll make sure your name is on it Rafael.

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