“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” That was the advice of Arthur Brisbane, Editor The Syracuse Post Standard March 28, 1911. Despite originally referring to newsprint, the adage still holds true in the digital age.
“Sketching for understanding” is an efficient and effective way to gather tons of ideas in a short period of time while cultivating shared understanding across agile teams. With the right structure and active participation, sketching with Scrum teams can really pay dividends throughout the release life cycle.
Use the following guide to help plan and facilitate your next agile sketching session. Read the rest of this entry »
This game is most probably the most simple collaborative cost benefit analysis ever.
It is applicable onto subjects where a group has expert knowledge about costs and/or benefits.
A group of developers is such an example.
Especially a customer or customer proxy will have interest when it comes to prioritizing work items.
If the list of work items is not existent you can start this exercise by a silent post-up.
All individuals in the group start scribbling down about the work to be done. (one thing/sticky)
After 10 min or so ask the group to hang them on the wall.
Ask the team to group items together by subject in silence. Items causing discussion you ask to park aside.
Explain that the only purpose is having a priority. So under what cluster it’s been put isn’t that important. What is important however, is all know where it’s under.
So on the exact scope (what-fits-best-where) there is no explicit consensus needed. A majority is fine.
* does everybody know the scope of the clusters?
* can the team proportionally estimate the size of the scope? (what is bigger/smaller then what)
Priories on cost
Next, ask the team to sort them top to bottom on cost. (5 minutes of work)
Park the items under discussion aside after all the others are done.
Discussion can only happen when the clustering did not clear things up or caused friction. This could indicate the team isn’t aware of the goal: putting priority.
Next hang the lowest sticky way lower and the highest way higher then the rest of the sorted list.
Like that you’ll have room to position the stickies on a scale.
Write down on the board some marks of the scale. E.g. (see image): 1, 5, 10, 15, 20.
Ask the team to position the other items on the correct place on the scale.
The sorted order must will stay ofcourse, a relative cost will emerge from the scale as they are positionned.
This all takes about 10 min: Sorting 5, scaling 5.
Depending on the position on the scale, write the relative number bottom left on the stickies.
E.g. stickies in the middle: 50%, top 0%, bottom 100%.
This will be your Y-axis coordinate to put your sticky on a 2D cost -benefit graph.
Priories on benefit
Do the same for the benefits with a product owner, customer if preferred.
Sort, relatively scale them, and write the number bottom right.
Putting it all together
Draw the X and Y axis with the top and bottom values from the exercise above: the costs & benefits.
Hang the stickies according to the cost/benefit coordinates noted on them.
The low hanging-fruit and infeasible-expensive items are clearly found now.
Note that the same approach can be done with a Kano diagram or any other kind of 2D graph.
It’s a fun way of clearing things out and prioritizing is done through collaborative support.
Special attention on discussion starters is recommended. They are the time consumers, and can be stopped by guarding and communicating your goal: prioritizing.
Enjoy this game, feedback is mostly appreciated!
Congratulations are due on the launch of a new Gamestorming User Group in France! If you’re nearby, check it out!
Object of Play
This game has been designed to help prioritize different ideas or items in a quick and energetic way without getting stuck in endless discussions and avoiding any kind of influencing. It is similar to 20-20 game as it will compare items in pairs.
Number of players: 4 – 50
Duration: 15-45 minutes depending on the group size and items at hand.
How to play
- Organize or facilitate another game to generate items that require prioritization.
- Ask all attendees to put the items at hand in the middle of the group of people, one by one and shortly explaining the item at hand.
- When all items are in the middle of the group let each one of the attendees select their “Top”, “Most Important” item out of the pile and do this one person at the time. If their top item is gone then they could take their second, third… option out of the list, purpose it that everybody has 1 card at hand. (With a small group let them take 2).
- Now instruct the people to mingle amongst each other and find a partner in order to form pairs. Shortly discuss how to spread 7 points amongst the 2 items at hand with the 2 of them and add those points on the back of the card.
- Let the people take each others card and find another partner for a second round of weighting cards with each other.
- Do this 5 times (5 times 7 = 35)!
- Summarize all different weights to a single figure and sort highest number on top and so on…
Note: Even when the group does this a second time with the same items and interest at hand the sorting will be the same but figures might differ a bit.
Getting a group consensus about priorities between different related items is not easy and 35 will give them an easy way to effectively and repeatedly prioritize items according the groups consensus. The technique is build in such a way that people can not cheat the system and influence the outcomes as you compare, weight items related to each other. By constantly changing cards from hands and switching from partners one is can never influence the outcome. A great way to achieve a fast consensus about the priority of the items at hand.
Object of Play
This game has been designed to gather facts and opinions from the participants on different aspects of the issue at stake. It will help gain and share insight from all points of view, since everyone will have had the chance to contribute.
Number of Players: Up to 50
Duration of Play: 15min to an hour depending on the amount of participants
How to Play
- Prepare 5 up to 10 flip-charts where you address different aspects of the topic at hand. On each flip-chart you address a certain aspect of the issue by posing a powerful question about it, these questions should be impersonal and ask for facts and opinions. Focus on “what”, “when” and “how” questions.
- Spread the flip-charts through the entire room, making sure there is enough distance in between to allow group discussions between participants without disturbing the others too much.
- Quickly introduce the topic at hand and go through the questions of each flip-chart, making sure everybody understands the questions correctly.
- Aks participants to split into pairs, or groups up to 5 people if you have a bigger group. You should have one group per flip-chart/question.
- Ask each group to answer the question by adding their ideas, facts and opinions on the flip-chart either with images, writing or post-it artifacts in a way that it is possible for others to interprete the data presented.
- Give each group 2-3min time to add their information and rotate to the next flip-chart (clock-wise or counter clock-wise)
- Repeat until each group has answered all the questions.
- Give the entire group another 5-10min to review all generated content and move to the next step: prioritization and/or deeper research into some of the ideas generated.
By limiting the time a group has to answer a question you will make them focus on the most important things. The idea is not to gather all information per participant but to gather meaningful information as a group. This gathered information will form the basis for a prioritization and/or deeper research into some of the ideas and opinions.
Object of Play
This game has been designed to help set the right culture in a group of people and help build mutual trust. It will empower all participants to act upon the results of this game.
Number of Players: Up to 30
Duration of Play: +/-30min
How to Play
- You write down the words “Meaningful” and “Pleasant” in the middle of a flip-chart or whiteboard.
- You aks everybody in the group to shout out what they believe is necessary to make sure this meeting or workshop will be meaningful and pleasant.
- As participants are providing thoughts and ideas, you record the information given in a mind-map structure.
Note: Preferably by using images instead of words.
- Quickly pass by each of the ideas recorded and make sure everybody has the same understanding of the idea at hand. If necessary adjust the item to avoid misunderstanding. = Values within the group.
- Now go back to the first item addressed and ask the participants how they believe would be a good way to make sure this idea is carried out during the meeting or workshop. Record the items attached to the given value addressed. = Actions.
- End the game with pointing out that this code of conduct that the group just created needs to be upheld by everyone. Every participant has the responsibility to make sure everybody in the group respects this code. = working agreement.
- Optionally: You could ask people if they want to take ownership of one of the actions registered.
Note: Be aware that this may cause a typical human reaction from the others: “It is this persons problem to monitor, not mine anymore”.
Make sure everybody contributes to the making of the mind-map. If you believe the group is not strong or comfortable enough for this, you could substitute the shouting of ideas by letting everyone write down their ideas in silence combined with an affinity map to achieve similar results that can be recorded in the mind-map. It will take some time to create this shared code of conduct but it will help groups of people where there is little to no trust and openness to break through the initial barriers.
Object of Play
Ideal activity for flex points in a gathering (the beginning, when coming back from lunch, at the end of the day). Give everyone at a gathering an opportunity to “get there” mentally by engaging with the purpose/subject. Give everyone a significant amount of “air time” so that everyone’s voice is in the conversation (no matter how many participants, everyone 5-10 minutes). Energize participants and get oxygen to the brain by standing and moving physically).
Number of Players
Unlimited. This activity “scales” really well from a minimum of around 12 to thousands.
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. Invite everyone to leave their “stuff” and move to an open space in the room where everyone can stand and there’s room to move around.
2. Pose a juicy question that is directly related to the purpose of the gathering.
3. Ask everyone to reflect on the question silently for a full minute
4. Explain the simple rules;
- When you hear the chimes, find a partner (someone you know less well than others is more interesting). If you’re looking for a partner put your hand in the air so someone else who needs a partner can find you easily.
- Have a 5 minute conversation about the question.
- When the chimes ring again, find a new partner (remember the hand up trick) and have another conversation.
- When the chimes ring continuously, stop and find out what happens next.
5. Three ‘rounds’ of the process are usually good.
6. At this point, there are many possible variations for a next move. Two possibilities: (1) Invite everyone to sit back down and start the next part of the gathering. (2) Invite partners to hook up with one or two other pairs and sit down in a knee-to-knee circle and talk about what struck them about the conversations.
Debrief this process in addition to harvesting the content from the discussions Invite participants to reflect on what it was like to have the conversation using this process. Things they might notice include: How starting a meeting standing up builds rather than drains energy, how having several iterations of the same conversation with different partners changes understanding, and how questions open up more space for creative thinking than presentations. The goal is to introduce participants to the pattern language of these generative processes.
Source: Shared by Lisa Kimball of Group Jazz.
Object of Play
When things do not go according to plan, there are two ways we can change our outlook. One is to ignore what is wrong and solely focus on the positives. Although possibly leading to a better attitude when the circumstance surpasses your low expectations, this technique still leaves you with the negative aspects that are causing your cognitive dissonance. Changing your frame of mind is only helpful if the circumstance is impossible to improve, which is not usually the case. That being said, the most beneficial way to truly change the course of our lives is to alter the situation. Wellbeing North Star, created by Kimberly Wiefling, allows you to analyze all angles of your situation in order to reach your desired end state. By comparing what you like and dislike about different aspects of your product, meeting, work day, etc., you can identify where your efforts are needed most to ensure that you achieve your goal.
Number of Players
5 – 8
Duration of Play
How to Play
1. Before your meeting, draw a star in the middle of a large poster or whiteboard. In the center of the star, write the topic you are going to focus on (ex. Project X, Conference, Daily schedule). Around the star, write different aspects of the topic you want to discuss with your team (ex. advertisements, graphics, communication, functions).
2. At the beginning of the meeting, distribute plenty of pens and sticky notes (2 different colors) to your participants.
3. For 5 – 10 minutes, have your players to write what they like about the aspects you wrote around the star. Tell them only to write their ideas on one color of sticky note.
4. Ask players to jot down what they dislike about each aspect for the next 5 – 10 minutes, only writing on the other color of sticky note.
5. When everyone is done writing their ideas, have each participant present their notes and post them under the respective aspects on the chart. Cluster all of the “likes” and “dislikes” together to make the results easier to understand.
6. When all of the notes have been posted, collaborate to identify how the ideas can enhance your project. What can be changed? Could you improve your project by simply eliminating any of the “dislikes”? Encourage participants to come up with solutions for the problems they presented.
This game can result in major changes, so make sure that everyone is clear on what alterations are going to be made to eliminate any “dislikes.” Consider assigning specific tasks to people to prevent social loafing and to ensure that the changes will indeed be made.
You can play this game with anybody related to your project. Ask customers what they like/dislike about different aspects of your product or service. Or, collaborate with your key partners to determine if your relationship is going according to plan. This activity is adaptable to your needs and can be customized for any audience.
Wellbeing North Star can also be used as a retrospective analysis activity. Rather taking time to correct inferior aspects of your topic before you reach your desired end state, play this exercise after you have finished your project to identify how it can be improved for your iteration.
Play Wellbeing North Star Online
You can instantly play Wellbeing North Star online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on the image above will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your team to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” You will see three types of icons in the upper left corner.
- Note cards: area of concern
- Happy face: what is working
- Frown face: what is not working
Simply drag the note card icons to the squares and describe the concerns they represent. Then, players can drag the faces to the chart to organize the positive and negative aspects of the concerns.
Players can edit the placement and description of each light bulb, which everyone can view in real time. Use the integrated chat facility and communicate with your players throughout the game to get a better understanding of each move. After the game, the results will be organized in a spread sheet to maximize the benefits of the game.
Opinions are valuable when it comes to determining what is and isn’t working. Rather than lowering your expectations and allowing for mediocre results, put in the energy now to enhance your present state. Play Wellbeing North Star to get back on the track that everyone agrees will lead to your goal.