Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization

Posted: July 11th, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Core Games, Games for any meeting, Games for planning, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
Overwhelming backlog lists are paralyzing, making it seemingly impossible to take the first step in conquering accumulated assignments. Not only do these intimidating to-do lists constantly grow, but they lose efficiency as more important tasks are added without any order. How do you know the best place to start conquering this debilitating beast? How can you determine the most productive sequence for the assignments? Fortunately, the innovative Agile and Scrum expert, Mitch Lacey, has developed Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization: a revolutionary technique to manage backlogs. As described in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for Your First Year, this game provides a painless way to prioritize tasks, making your backlog list less daunting and more effective.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. To begin, draw a graph on a large poster or white board.

    • X-axis = “Size.” This charts the complexity of the backlog item
    • Y-axis = “Priority” to designate the urgency of the task. This can be measured by anything the players agree is important, such as ROI or business value.
    • Divide the graph into three vertical sections to help your team organize the assignments based on the amount of effort needed to complete them.

2. Pass out notecards and pens for players to write backlog items on and post on the chart according to their size and complexity.

3. When all participants are finished, look at the arrangement of the notecards and collaborate to rearrange them as needed. The top-left section of the chart will be at the top of your work/product backlog, as they are high priority and low-effort tasks. In contrast, the items in the top-right are high priority and large.

4. When all the notes are in their appropriate places, order them in a to-do list by starting with those in the top-left corner and moving clockwise.

Strategy
Examine the note cards in the upper right region of the chart. Is there any way to divide these items into more manageable tasks? These smaller assignments may then be separated to different areas depending on their size and priority level. This will make your to-do list less daunting and more efficient.

Play Online

You can instantly play Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image 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.” As with the in-person version, this graph measures the size and complexity of tasks. Assignments that players think of are represented by the note card icons found at the upper left corner of the chart. Players simply drag the icons to the game board and describe what they represent. Participants can then edit the placement and description of each notecard, 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.

Key Points
This game gets team members thinking differently about backlog items. Rather than making a scattered list of debilitating tasks, Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization arranges your accumulated undertakings according to the level of priority and effort needed to accomplish them, allowing for productive advancements.

References
Mitch Lacey describes this game in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year.

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Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Job or Joy

Posted: March 21st, 2012 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for opening, Games for team-building and alignment | Tags: , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play:
This game helps you discover what you and your colleagues like best and least about your jobs. When doing something you love, it is easy to get lost in the activity for its own sake, which stimulates creativity and commitment to the task at hand. This can be applied to your work to make it more enjoyable and productive. With Job or Joy, participants share their favorite hobbies, tedious chores, and what they like or dislike about work. This enhances your understanding of your colleagues while uncovering ways to make work more fun.

Number of Players:
5 – 8

Duration of Play:
1 hour

How to Play:
1. Before your meeting, draw a graph with four quadrants. Write “not-work” on the left of the x-axis and “work” on the right. Then write “play” above the y-axis and “not-play” below it.

This gives each quadrant a specific meaning

  • Quadrant 1: Joy – work activities that people enjoy (ex. conferences)
  • Quadrant 2: Hobbies – activities outside of work that people enjoy (ex. reading, biking, cooking)
  • Quadrant 3: Chores – activities outside of work that people don’t enjoy (ex. cleaning)
  • Quadrant 4: Job – work activities that people don’t enjoy (ex. mundane office meetings)

Job and Joy (work) = external to the individual; liking of the activity depends on the situation or attributes of it
Hobbies and Chores (leisure) = internal to the individual; self-motivated activities outside of the workplace

2. Pass out sticky notes and pens to your team members. Ask them to write activities they do that apply to each of the quadrants.

3. After about 5 minutes, have your participants place their sticky notes where they feel the they belong on the chart. For instance, if someone likes cooking, they would put that in the “Hobbies” quadrant. If they don’t like cooking, they would place it in the “Chores” section. Things that people like to do at work go under “Joy” and work activities people don’t like go under “Job.”

4. Ask each person to explain the activities they wrote and why they placed it where they did. Use this discussion time to learn about each other and collaborate on how to make work more enjoyable for everyone.

Strategy:
The writing and discussion time should begin with activities people love to do outside of work and move to more work-oriented activities. This will help everyone think of ways to make their jobs more enjoyable while creating a fun environment.

Online Job or Joy

Start playing Job or Joy immediately online! Clicking on this image will take you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com, where you can invite participants to play. Here, there will be two icons:

  • Happy face: what you enjoy to do
  • Frown face: what you don’t enjoy to do

Simply drag these to the chart and collaborate about the moves in real time. When finished, your results are organized onto a spread sheet so you can get the most out of your game.

Key Points
When people enjoy what they are doing and become engaged through self-motivation, they can push themselves to form innovative ideas and breakthroughs. Their participation is catalyzed by the activity they are involved in and they channel their personal commitment toward achieving the goal. Discover what your colleagues like/dislike to do in order to better understand who they are and how you can all maximize your joy — both during and outside of work.

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Rating: 6.0/10 (12 votes cast)

Circles of Influence

Posted: September 30th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for opening, Games for planning, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | Tags: , , , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
The first step of achieving your business goal is always the most difficult. Where do you start? Who can you talk to? Is there anybody that will support you in your risky journey? Fortunately, Deb Colden’s Circles of Influence can help you reach your action potential by identifying connections that will lead you to success. Take advantage of this game to expand your network and turn your thoughts into plans.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. At the top of a large poster or white board, define your goal. This could be anything from finishing a task by the end of the day to increasing your sales before the end of the year. Write what you want to accomplish in one sentence to keep it concise.

2. Draw two large circles next to each other, putting a check mark in the center of the left one and a smiley face in the middle of the right one. Label the circles as followed:

  • Left circle: “Circle of the Task”
  • Right Circle: “Board of Directors”

3. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to each person.

4. Focus on “Circle of the Task.” This is designated for people who could help you reach your goal or provide contacts of people in their network who could assist you. Ask participants to write names of people belonging to the category on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the left circle. Avoid generalizations, such as “somebody from Company X,” or “a professor.” By using specific names, you can transform vague ideas into tangible actions and identify who will help you excel toward your goal. Also, it will get you thinking about specific questions to ask them so you can get exactly what you need in an efficient manner.

5. As a team, reflect on and note how connecting with each person could be advantageous. Who benefits from the relationship? Who knows other potentially helpful people? Why is the interaction important? Focus on ways you can provide a win-win (give something, get something) experience to the people on your task circle.

6. Move on to the “Board of Directors.” This circle is for people who will help you no matter what, and who you can rely on to provide encouragement and advice. These personal acquaintances are perfect to speak with when you don’t know where to start or want to practice forming focused questions. As before, ask players to write names on their sticky notes and to post them on the edge of the circle.

7. Collaborate to uncover ways to use the support and advice of your “Board of Directors.”

8. Work together to identify who to speak with first from your “Circle of the Task.” Who is the easiest person to talk to with the best return? If going straight to your “Circle of the Task” is too intimidating, then select someone from you “Board of Directors” who can calm you down and provide advice. These people want you to succeed, and can help you identify where to start. Also, look for two-fers: people who belong to both circles. These are valuable connections, as they can assist you with the task and provide support.

9. After speaking with people on your “Circle of the Task,” make sure to ask, “Is there anyone else I should talk to?” This will encourage them to share their networks to help expand yours. When you return to the chart, attach a circle to the person’s sticky note, representing their connections. This will organize your potential contacts so you can see your expanded sphere of support.

Play Circles of Influence Online

You can instantly play Circles of Influence online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com; simply email the game link to your staff to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, the two circles organize your “Circle of the Task,” and “Board of Directors.” You will see two icons in the top left corner, which represent people in your network:

  • Green person – in your “Circle of the Task”
  • Blue person – in your “Board of Directors”
  • Blue stars – goals

To add the icons to the game board, simply drag them to their respective sections and describe what they represent. Players online are able to decide on multiple goals, symbolized by blue stars. As facilitator, engage your participants to discover which of the goals are most important.

Everyone can edit the placement and description of each icon, which can be seen in real time. Collaborate through the chat facilitator to build from each other’s ideas. When finished, the results will be organized in a spreadsheet for you to carefully analyze in order to get the most out of the game.

Strategy
Write names of people even if you do not personally know them or if you believe they will be difficult to schedule a time to talk with. Doing so will get you thinking about that person’s network, which can be just as valuable.

Key Points
This game involves visual organization and extensive collaboration to identify people who will help you move toward your goal. By writing out specific names, you can turn potential connections into beneficial relationships and form a more focused approach on how to achieve your objective. Get the job done by expanding your network while utilizing the support of those who know you best.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Merrill Covey Matrix

Posted: August 29th, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for any meeting, Games for decision-making, Games for opening, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for team-building and alignment, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki | Tags: , , , , , | 2 comments »

Object of Play
Many of us are overwhelmed by our to-do lists, and work hard each day to accomplish just a few of our countless tasks. However, we tend to focus on urgent items while disregarding the importance of planning for tasks that are necessary to reach our overall goal. This negligence will lead to even more stress in the long run, as everything will eventually become urgent if not prepared for. Fortunately, Merrill Covey Matrix, based on  Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill’s description in their book First Things First, allows you to evaluate the urgency and importance of your tasks. The goal of this activity is to prioritize your to-do list in order to plan ahead and work efficiently. Play Merrill Covey Matrix with your team at work, key partners, or customers to clarify the purpose and value of your tasks and to discover which items should be minimized or eliminated.

Number of Players:
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play

1. Before your meeting, draw a 2×2 matrix on a large white board or poster. Label the axes as followed:

  • 2 left cells – Urgent
  • 2 right cells – Not urgent
  • 2 top cells – Important
  • 2 bottom cells– Not important

2. Distribute pens and plenty of sticky notes to your players; participants will use these to write tasks.

3. Allow 5 – 10 minutes for players to write to-do items on the post-its: one per note.

4. Have players present their tasks to the group. As a team, collaborate to identify where each to-do item should be placed on the matrix.

5. Once all of the notes are posted, rearrange the tasks in each cell in order of importance. Start thinking about how you can use the organization to make your to-do list more efficient. Keep in mind the value of each cell:

  • Cell 1: Urgent, important – these tasks should be at the top of your to-do list
  • Cell 2: Not urgent, important – these items are likely to be neglected, but are necessary for long-term success. Set aside time each week to focus on these in order to be more productive. We suggest making this cell a different color so you will remember its significance.
  • Cell 3: Urgent, not important – these tasks suck your time and are often the result of poor-planning. They should be minimized or eliminated.
  • Cell 4: Not urgent, not important – these items are trivial time-wasters that should be eliminated

6. Collaborate to clarify the value of the items and to identify which team members will be responsible for each task. Write down the new order of your to-do list, but make sure take a picture of the chart or leave it up so you can refer back to it.

Play Online

Now you can play Merrill Covey Matrix instantly online! Clicking on the picture to the right will start an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, this image will be used as the “game board.” This chart is organized the same way as the in-person version, and the second cell is highlighted yellow to remind you of its importance. However, instead of post-it notes, there will be two different icons that players can drag onto the chart and describe to represent the tasks:

  • Green squares – priority tasks that require attention
  • Red square – tasks to minimize/eliminate

All moves can be seen in real time by each participant, so everyone can edit the positions and descriptions of the icons. Also, the integrated chat facility allows you and your players to collaborate to form the most efficient to-do list.

Strategy
Delegation is an integral part of time management. Rather than assuming everyone will work together on each item, you must assign tasks in order to prevent social loafing. This way, people will feel more responsible for certain items and will accomplish them more efficiently.

Considering how easy it is to neglect the items in the second cell, it is advised to highlight or surround the region with a different color to portray its significance, as seen in the images above. At the beginning of each week, set aside time to work on these necessary tasks.

Avoid creating a long, intimidating to-do lists by breaking it down into smaller lists. For example, consider creating a task sheet for each person or a group list for each day or week.

Key Points
While we are all busy working through our to-do lists, we may not be doing so as efficiently as we think. Play Merrill Covey Matrix to identify the purpose and value of your tasks and to minimize or eliminate time-wasters. Plan ahead to avoid unproductive busy work and to accomplish your goal in a productive manner.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (6 votes cast)

Learning Matrix

Posted: August 23rd, 2011 | Added by: | Filed under: Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for planning, Games for problem-solving, Games for update or review meetings, Games for vision and strategy meetings, Gamestorming wiki, Various | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comments »

Object of Play
Iteration retrospective activities are tricky; it is often difficult to think of practical improvements, and reflecting on negative aspects of the project can leave your team feeling upset and unmotivated. A great way to prevent these from occurring is to play a game that focuses on the positives while also pointing out aspects that need to be changed. As described in Diana Larsen and Esther Derby’s Agile Retrospectives, Learning Matrix does just this. In this game, teams collaborate to identify what they liked and disliked about a past project, as well as point out whom they appreciated and what they believe should be altered for the future. Whether analyzing the results of a conference, product, or meeting, Learning Matrix can help you uncover your top-priority items to enhance your iteration.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. Before your meeting, create a 2×2 matrix. Draw a picture in each quadrant to represent a different aspect involved in your retrospective analysis:

Quadrant 1: Frown face for aspects you disliked, should be changed
Quadrant 2: Smiley face for aspects you liked, should be repeated
Quadrant 3: Light bulb for new ideas to try
Quadrant 4: Bouquet: people you appreciated

2. Provide players with plenty of sticky notes and markers. Allow 5-10 minutes for participants to individually write down their ideas for the four topics on separate notes.

3. After all players are done writing their ideas, ask them to present their sticky notes to the group and post them on the designated sections of the chart.

4. Narrow down the notes to a few requiring immediate attention. Give each player 6 – 10 dot stickers, which they will use to dot vote for the ideas they believe are top-priority. Resolve ties by discussing which note is more pressing or having another dot vote. Count all the votes to determine which ideas should be focused on. Narrowing ideas down is important, as it allows the team to concentrate on priorities and increases the chance of effective improvements being made.

5. Move the notes around to reflect the order of priority. Collaborate to evaluate how these ideas can be used to enhance your next iteration and discuss where you can begin making improvements.

Online Learning Matrix

Clicking on the image to the right will take you to an “instant play” game at innovationgames.com. Here, the picture will be used as the “game board” and you will find four icons in the top left corner. As with the in-person game, the each icon represents a different topic:

Frown face – aspects you didn’t like
Happy face – aspects you liked
Light bulb – new ideas
Bouquet – people you appreciated

To add the icons, simply drag them to the board and describe what they represent. Everyone can edit the placement and description of each icon, which can be seen in real time. Collaborate through the chat facilitator to build from each other’s ideas and improve your past project.

Strategy
Encourage players to continue thinking of ideas for each quadrant, even after all the sticky notes have been posted or the quadrants have filled up. Write the additional comments around the topic images to maintain the positioning of the original notes.

A good facilitator is necessary for this game in order to keep everyone focused. If the project team leader does not feel comfortable in this position, it is best to hire a neutral facilitator. This must be someone who can gain the team’s trust and create an environment in which participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

Key Points
This exercise allows you to perform iteration retrospective analysis while maintaining a positive environment. By organizing your thoughts, you can lay out your plan for improvement and discover how to enhance your project for the future. Collaborate to identify what should be repeated, changed, or tried, and to congratulate team members for a job well-done.

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Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)