Disclaimer: At the end of this you will not have learnt to create a deep-fried, sugar-coated ring of bready goodness. Though I may write that one next!
Working at an agency it is often the case that our clients have heard and are enthusiastic about Scrum/Agile, but struggle to move away from what they have been doing before.
One of the biggest problems is that because the business doesn’t understanding everyone’s responsibilities in this ‘new’ Scrum framework, the PO (sometimes plural if you don’t nip that one in the bud), stakeholders and ex-project managers all revert to old, default, behaviours rather then seek to understand their role better. This leads to confusion, mis-communication, pressure, ]over-commitment and conflict. For more info see this blog post about over-commitment by James Scrimmers.
This is a game I created, which was then used refined by me and my colleague Laurie Young to help gauge how well everyone involved in a project understands their remit. It lends insight in the the pre-conceptions that people have about how projects should be run, which helps you tackle potential problems early.
Draw a big circle on the whiteboard. Inside that draw a smaller, but reasonably sized circle in the middle. You should now have something that resembles a ring donut. Now draw three equidistant lines from the outer circle to the inner circle as if you are going to divide said donut equally between three people.
Now in the very centre write “Whole Team” and in one of each of the sections write the one following:
- Product Owner
- Scrum Master
- Development Team
Outside of the donut write “No One”.
Hopefully this is taking shape now.
Finally you want written down on separate cards different tasks/responsibilities that make sense for your project (see my example list below).
Then you instruct the whole team to place each card in the the sections they think it belongs in. If a responsibility is shared between two sections they can place it on the dividing line between those sections.
The sorts of things I have used are (though the list of things can be exhaustive or situational):
- Cancelling a Sprint
- Changing the Product Scope
- Conveying The Product Vision
- Prioritises Product Backlog
- Prioritises Sprint Backlog
- Writes User Stories
- Facilitates Meetings
- Facilitates Retrospectives
- Builds the Product Backlog
- Commits to a Sprint Backlog
- Remove Impediments
- Motivates the team
- Protects the team from outside distraction
- Chooses the Amount of Work in a Sprint
- Commits to Completing the Sprint
- Inspects and Adapts to Improve their Performance
- Manages the Team
- Points Out Other People's Mistakes
- Makes Sure the Product Works
- Accepts a Story as Ready
- Recognises Impediments
- Accepts a Story as 'Done Done'
- Ensures Something Useful is Built by Launch Date
- Represents the Business/Customers
- Keeps Stakeholders Informed
You can tailor this to something specific or very broad depending where you feel the team is and what problems you are facing, but we have found this works especially well when starting a project with a new client as:
- You can get the whole team talking from the off
- It helps understand the mindset of the team and understand how much their previous experiences will influence their decision making, particularly in periods of stress
- Reinforces agile principles and the scrum framework
I have found asking people what they “think” is the right answer reaps different results from when you ask what they “want” the right answer to be.
Revisiting this game later on with a record of previous times you have played it can give you insight into what the team have learned or how they have adapted to the specifics of the project.
This is a very good game for setting the expectations within the team and avoiding conflict due to misunderstandings.
It establishes a level of good communication throughout the team.
Helps people understand that its okay not to understand everything.
Helps expose misunderstandings that have grown over time.
Reinforces the idea of who are the committed people on the project if you are bored of pigs and chickens.
It helps highlight responsibilities that no one has taken on or thought about