I think the Scrum Simulation with LEGO Bricks by Alexey Krivitsky is a great way to experience agile ways of working. I’ve used it a lot while giving workshops. The game however focuses mainly on the processes.
Depending on the group I felt that the game could have an extension which focuses on the gathering of the required information and setting up the backlog. Most groups exist, besides developers, of product owners, management, stakeholders and so on.
A very important part of product ownership is about gathering info and stakeholders need to be challenged to think and rethink wishes. This exercise simulates this. It’s also good for the rest of the team to see how hard and important this is.
Handing out prepared user stories for the LEGO game doesn’t help either, it resembles translating functional and technical designs too much.
Extension for the LEGO game with the process of gathering info to create a backlog.
1 – 1,5 hour.
Note: I use this exercise during workshops. This means that I’ll first explain things like: agile manifesto, product owners role and the product backlog (the time needed for this is not included in the exercise). After this I start the exercise.
- Index cards with roles/expertise (We want a city stakeholder roles template),
- Explain the group the main goal: build a city with LEGO. Show them examples and/or the LEGO set so they’ll have an idea of what is possible.
- Divide the group in product owners and stakeholders. It depends on the groups size but I like to have two stakeholders for each Product Owner.
- Give the Stakeholders a card which defines their role/expertise*. Explain that they can ask whatever they want.
- The teams find a space and start the exercise.
- The product owners now need to gather the information and write stories.
- After 30 minutes or so let the stakeholders rate the stories. (Fibonacci scale)
- Estimate the stories as facilitator (Fibonacci scale). (I always explain that I’m the contractor which will build everything)
- Last but not least the product owner will have to get the stories ordered with the stakeholders. In this phase you’ll see that new stories will be written, stories will be simplified, wishes will be split in multiple stories and business value points can change. This is the process you want to achieve in real live too.
Now you’ll have a couple of (partly) prepared backlogs which you can use to start the LEGO game. I finish the theory after this exercise and then do the LEGO game.
- Product owners will learn that they need to communicate a lot and they need to keep on questioning the reason for functionality. Not only at the start of the project but continuously.
- Product owners learn that they need to do some serious stakeholder management.
- By first asking why and then what the group will learn that finding a reason for a request is sometimes hard to find and that assumptions are always a bad thing.
- Stakeholders will learn that they can base their choices on a combination of effort and business value.
- Agile stakeholder management is continuously seeking for the best solutions together.
- Learn the importance of first asking why and then what.
- Writing stories.
- Setting up a backlog.