The purpose of this game is to demonstrate how interruptions/distractions during sprint cycles and/or Program Increment can impact not only delivery of the product, but also the impacts on team focus and morale.

About the game

Time: ~1.25 Hours

# of Participants: Can vary, but it is nice to have at least 3 teams of 4-6 people each

What you will need: 4 to 6 – 100 piece puzzles (depending on the number of teams), 4 to 6 open tables (again, depending on number of teams), sticky notes, instructions for teams (provided below), stop watch or timer

Facilitator Guide

Game Set-up:

  1. Prior to the game, the facilitator should open each puzzle box and take 2 edge pieces out of the box. It is important to do this out of sight of game participants. These pieces will later be provided to each group’s respective stakeholders.
  2. Teams will be broken up into 3 groups: Product Owners, Team Members (equal numbers for each team), and Stakeholders (equal numbers for each team) *Note: Do your best to have the developers play either the Product Owner or a Stakeholder and vice versa
  3. A sticky note with the word “TOP” written on it will be placed on all tables but one
  4. The teams will be notified of the purpose of the game: Work in their teams to build a puzzle using Scrum framework
    1. There will be 3 sprints that will each include:
      1. Backlog grooming = 3 minutes
      1. Sprint Planning = 2 minutes
      1. Sprint work = 10 minutes
      1. Sprint Review/Demo = 3 minutes
      1. Retrospective = 2 minutes
  5. Product Owners and Stakeholders will then be separated into their own groups and provided with specific instructions on their roles…
    1. Product Owners will be instructed to direct their teams on their priorities in building the puzzle (can be put together in any format; i.e. outside borders, center, left side to right side); The only guideline that must be followed is the top of the puzzle must be aligned with the side of the table with the “TOP” sticky note
    1. Stakeholders will be given specific instructions on how they will disrupt each sprint (details to follow).
  6. Before the game begins, teams will regroup and Product Owners will be given 2 minutes to empty the contents of the provided puzzle box and turn over all pieces.
  7. The team will then begin their first sprint, keeping in mind that they will not be able to put together the entire puzzle in one sprint.

Game Play

  1. The first 3 minutes (backlog grooming) should be used by the Product Owner to align the team on priorities of how to put the puzzle together. The PO should write down the “stories” on a slip of paper.
  2. The second 2 minutes (sprint planning) will be used by the team to commit to the amount of work that they feel that they can accomplish during this sprint and determine the best way for them to perform the work (the team should keep in mind that they only have 3 sprints!)
  3. The work begins! The next 10 minutes will be used to complete the sprint work or “stories” that the team has committed to. If the team completes their committed work before the end of the sprint, they should review it with their Product Owner.
  4. Once the 10 minute period for work has been completed, teams will be asked to demo their work to their assigned stakeholder(s) (3 minutes).
  5. The team will then begin their Retrospective (no Stakeholders allowed!) which will last for 2 minutes. The team should discuss how they performed and what adjustments may be necessary.
  6. Repeat these steps for Sprints 2 and 3.

Facilitator Instructions

  1. Prior to the game beginning, provide each team’s assigned stakeholder(s) with the “missing” puzzle pieces. But BE SNEAKY!! The team will, eventually, notice the missing pieces and should work with their respective Product Owner and stakeholders to find the pieces.
  2. During each sprint, you will assign certain disruptive tasks to the assigned stakeholders. At least one stakeholder in each group will be given a slip of paper with directions. At any point during the 10 minute work window, have the stakeholder(s) perform their task(s).
  3. After the end of the first sprint, have one stakeholder from one team (TBD by facilitator) to speak with that team’s respective Product Owner and provide them with a new puzzle (this puzzle will have all of its pieces).
  4. After the end of the second sprint, have one stakeholder from each team select 2 members of the team and direct the them to move to the next team over.
  5. After the end of the final sprint, facilitate a discussion of how the teams felt the exercise went. What were the challenges? How did they overcome these challenges? What went well? Speak to the importance of limiting disruptions.

Stakeholder Disruptions

As mentioned above, each sprint at least one stakeholder per team will be asked to interrupt the development team or the Product Owner. Below are examples that can be used. Have individual instructions on a sticky note or printed on a small piece of paper to give to the Stakeholders.

Approach the table and move the “TOP” sticker to a different place on the table. Let the PO know that this is the new requirement.

Approach the table, take the “TOP” sticker and move it to the empty table. Let the PO know that this is the new requirement.

Attempt to approach a team member (NOT THE PO) and ask them to count how many pieces of the puzzle have been completed. Let them know that it is urgent and you need them to stop what they are currently working on to provide this info. Be persuasive, but allow them to talk to the PO if they want to (don’t suggest it).

Attempt to approach a team member (NOT THE PO) and ask them to come help them for “a couple minutes”. Be persuasive, but allow them to talk to the PO if they want to (don’t suggest it). If they go with you, just engage in conversation for a minute or two before letting them go back to the table.

Approach the PO and ask them to lend one of their team members for an “Important project”. Tell them it’s high-priority, but “Keep it Tight” and you can’t tell them much about it. If the PO lets them go, have them help another table for the remainder of the sprint.

Attempt to approach a team member (NOT THE PO) and ask them to count how many pieces make up the left edge of the puzzle. Let them know that it is urgent and you need them to stop what they are currently working on to provide this info. If they don’t have the left side completed, ask for their best estimate. Be persuasive, but allow them to talk to the PO if they want to (don’t suggest it).

Approach the PO and ask for an estimate on when the puzzle will be completed. Be a little pushy. Let them know it’s important that you know when the work will be done.

Approach a team member (NOT THE PO) and engage in conversation. Just ask how their day is going and what they’re working on.

Participant Instructions

Share only the Game Play instructions listed above with the participating teams and be and be sure to introduce your Stakeholders so that their role is clear.

Variations

Here are some additional variations that have been suggested by teams I have worked with:

  • Stakeholders go to the Product Owners at beginning of the game to give direction on what they want (i.e. top half, bottom half, certain picture, etc)
  • Figure out how to incorporate dependencies – Have one team have to finish part of another team’s puzzle before it can be delivered

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