GOAL

Send as many “Balls” as possible through all Player’s cells in 3 minutes!

INTENT

This is our remote version (WFH) of the famous Ball Point Game designed by Boris Gloger, to be played by teams remotely.

Teams running this activity will understand key agile principles in a fun and hands-on way, while realizing the constrains and possibilities that remote work and technology can bring to our context.

Players will experience and learn about Flow, Self Organization, Feedback Loops, Collaboration, and Continuous improvement.

ENJOY 🙂

TIMEBOX

The session should take 45-60 minutes.

  • 15′ for the facilitator to explain the game
  • 30′ to play 3 rounds including strategy meeting + execution + scoring
  • 15′ debrief, take-aways, and feedback.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS

  • A copy of the Google doc board template, with edit permissions shared with all participants.
  • Videoconference platform accesible by all participants. For multi-team game we recommend Zoom to take advantage of its breakout rooms feature.
  • Timer to control the 3 minutes rounds and the 2 minute strategy/planning meeting, i.e: https://www.online-stopwatch.com/full-screen-stopwatch/ can ran in a separate tab in the facilitator browser and it rings when time finishes.
  • And, of course, an stable internet connection for all participants.

INSTRUCTIONS (Video)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Adjust Board to number of Players.
  • Each Player takes care of 1 cell.
  • Copy & Paste Boards for a multi-Team Game, see section below for further details.
  • Before each round, agree the Team strategy for the next iteration and estimate the number of Balls that can be completely processed in one round of 3 minutes (2 minutes).
  • Player 1 sends sentence “Ball #1.#2” to another player, being #1 the number of the Ball, and #2 the number of their station.
  • Players send sentence(s) (Balls) to another Player by editing+CUT+pasting them into another player’s cell (work space).
  • Editing the “Ball”:
    • Normal player (everyone but play 1) must add the number of their station to the sentence before sending it to the next player. e.g: Player in station 5 receives “Ball 13.1.2.3.4” (Ball 13 that has been already processed in stations 1 to 4. Changes the text to “Ball 13.1.2.3.4.5” (the number of their station), and cut&paste the sentence into the next Player cell. When the Ball has been processed by all Players/stations e.g: “Ball 13.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8” it needs to be sent back to Player 1.
    • Player 1 (Starter) is the only player who can add new Balls/sentences. New Balls must keep a sequential order. example after creating “Ball 14.1” she needs to create “Ball 15.1”. Can add new balls at any time. When she receives a Ball already processed by all Players/stations she needs to re-enter it into the cycle as a new Ball. e.g: receives “Ball 13.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8”, changes it to “Ball 25.1” and cut&paste it into the next player’s cell.
  • Round finishes after 3 minutes. Update score board with Balls delivered (fully processed) and wasted (partially processed).
  • Before starting the next round, each team has 2 minutes to decide on improvements to implement in the next round.
  • After last round, wrap-up session and debrief learnings and take-aways. Ideally: decide which of these learnings should be applied to the Team ways of working.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MULTIPLE TEAMS

We know that any efficient team has around 5 to 9 members. When facilitating for bigger groups we have 2 options:

  • Taking the traditional game approach by creating a healthy competition among different teams, or
  • Combining the work of those Teams creating dependencies between them.

To combine the work among Teams, you’ll need to identify the origin of the Team Ball as “Ball1A.1″, B, C, etc. And you’ll need to decide the type of dependency, that we recommend it to be easy enough to handle.

Example: Cross-Sign-Offs (teams of 6)

  • Team A needs to get approval from Team B station 3, Team B needs to get approval from Team C station 3, etc.
  • The last member of Team A when receiving the ball “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6”, instead of transferring the Ball back to station 1 to complete the loop, needs to transfer it to the station 3 in Team A by changing the text to “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6.B3” and copy&pasting it to other team’s board.
  • Station 3 will sign off by writing their station in the ball “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6.B3.A3” and transferring it back to Station 1 of team A.
  • Station 1, as the Starter, will reset the ball to the next number in the sequence, i.e: “Ball13A.1” and will restart the cycle.

ADD-ONS (optional)

As facilitator, you can add some options to ‘complicate’ the work-to-be-done with the intent to get additional learnings and take-aways:

  • Play all or some rounds with everyone on MUTE.
  • Play all or some rounds with JUST Player 1 able to speak (to guide the group)
  • Remove first Strategy agreement by mandating the Team to work directly without practice either planning.
  • Penalty for uncompleted work. Waste = Balls not fully processed.
  • Facilitator can add at any time during the round in progress, special balls “BallX” which score x10 and needs to be managed differently.
  • For dependant multi-team games, you can use different boards (google docs) for each team and you can create breakout rooms with Zoom to avoid communication between teams, or to ‘force’ them to communicate via the chat feature.

IMPROVEMENTS AND MODIFICATIONS FROM PEOPLE USING THE GAME 🙂

  • Implement the board game in Miro, or any online whiteboard tool, as an alternative to Google Docs. (by Saif)
  • Implement the board game in Trello, or any virtual Kanban board, taking advantage of its drag&drop feature where every column is managed by one player. (by María Berenguer & Victor Fairén)
  • Add the original rule “Balls can’t be passed to your direct neighbour to your immediate left or right“. (by Saif)

LICENSE CC-BY-SA

Creative Commons Licence

I wish you enjoy, share and learn with this game. Once you do so, I´d appreciate it if you could use it taking the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License into consideration. Many Thanks 🙂

31 thoughts on “Ball Point WFH Game”

  1. I love this and great effort to build the game for online purposes:
    couple of thoughts to ensure team has the chance to learn improvement aspects of the Scrum.

    cycle
    Draw a ball from the bucket
    Ball can go in any direction

    cycle: Change
    Ball cannot, go to the neighbour

    cycle: What can you change to speed up
    may come up with, multiple balls, pulling two at once i.e. ball 1,2: 1

    cycle: command and control
    someone injects ball to individuals so that there is a mess
    (Teaches pulling vs push)

    TIP: can also use GroupMap tool similar to trello..

  2. Hello!

    Great game! I have two questions:

    1. Could you explain the sentence below? Why can the ball change from 13.1 to 25.1?

    Player 1 (Starter) is the only player who can add new Balls/sentences. New Balls must keep a sequential order. example after creating “Ball 14.1” she needs to create “Ball 15.1”. Can add new balls at any time. When she receives a Ball already processed by all Players/stations she needs to re-enter it into the cycle as a new Ball. e.g: receives “Ball 13.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8”, changes it to “Ball 25.1” and cut&paste it into the next player’s cell.

    2. How does it digitally work when you want to get approval from another team?

    Thank you in advance!

    Best, Lisa

    1. hi Lisa,
      thanks for your interest in the game.

      1) The ball 13 is the one ARRIVING to the STARTER (player 1)… in the example I assume there are several balls created after 13th, imagine 24 balls already created when the ball 13th closes the loop and comes back to the STARTER. So this player “transforms” the ball 13th into the new ball 25th. Is it clear now?
      If you think it could be a bit confusing for participants, instead of “transforming old balls to new ones, you can create a section for COMPLETED balls where the STARTED could move all balls which have completed the loop. What do you think?

      2) I explain this variation in the section MULTIPLE TEAMS > CROSS SIGN-OFF:
      – Team A needs to get approval from Team B station 3, Team B needs to get approval from Team C station 3, etc.
      – The last member of Team A when receiving the ball “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6”, instead of transferring the Ball back to station 1 to complete the loop, needs to transfer it to the station 3 in Team A by changing the text to “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6.B3” and copy&pasting it to other team’s board.
      – Station 3 will sign off by writing their station in the ball “Ball5A1.2.3.4.5.6.B3.A3” and transferring it back to Station 1 of team A.
      – Station 1, as the Starter, will reset the ball to the next number in the sequence, i.e: “Ball13A.1” and will restart the cycle.

      Let me know if it’s unclear and I’ll try to explain this in a different way.

      Thanks,
      Marc

  3. In the Game Board Picture above, player 6 moving the ball to player 7 (next sequential station?) needs fixed. Please update the picture. I have this created in a mural board and so excited to play with a large group.

    1. Thanks for your comment Saif. And I´m happy you used it with a big group.
      I´d love to know more about the experience: Did the whole group worked together on the same board? Did you split the board and the group in different breakout rooms and/or docs?

      About the ‘mistake’ in the picture, it´s true that the constrains proposed in the original game say “Balls can’t be passed to your direct neighbour, to your immediate left or right”.
      My thought was that this rule would not influence, benefit, either complicate the remote activity. I’ll add this constraint next time I run it 🙂
      Thanks,

    2. Hi Saif, I am wondering how your workshop went. I am also planning such a game and am also using MURAL. Do you think you could share your board as a template with me?
      That would be great!
      Best,
      Heike

  4. Hi there,
    This seems like such a great activity that we’d love to try with our remote team but the video no longer seems to be available – are you able to post up a new link?
    Thanks,
    Katie

    1. hi Katie, Thanks for your comments. Video is available now.
      Wish you find it useful.
      Let me know if you have any doubt and will be great to get your feedback once you have the opportunity to play it.
      Thanks

    1. hi Ivano,
      Video posted and working fine now,
      Let me know if you have any question and will love to get your feedback if you try it.
      Thanks

  5. Hi Marc,
    Your video is not available. Will you please repost it or provide a link where it can be viewed?

    Thanks,
    Joe

    1. Video posted and working fine now, Darcy.
      Let me know if you have any question and will love to get your feedback if you try it.
      Thanks

  6. Thanks for writing this. Would love to try it. What kind of smart improvements in the way of working have you seen in teams that allowed them to radically improve their performance round after round?

    1. hmm, I think that answer will spoil the key aspect of the game 😉
      Hope you have the opportunity to try it, and will love to know your feedback about this experience.
      Thanks
      btw, now the video is available!

    1. hi Ice, now the video is uploaded properly and you´ll be able to watch it.
      Let me know if you have any question about the game.
      If you play it I´d highly appreciate getting your feedback
      Thanks

    1. it´s not your browser. Video wasn’t properly uploaded to YT.
      Now it works fine! Let me know if you have any doubt about it. Thanks

  7. This version of the Ball Point Game sounds very promising. When will the Youtube video be online? Can’t wait to get more information about it, since we are planning a remote agile game night for the end of april and we still need inspiration for some games. 🙂

    1. hi Annika, thanks for your interest and apologies for the video issue. Now it’s fixed and you can watch it.
      Hope this arrives on time for your Game night. Enjoy and let me know how the game worked!
      Thanks

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