Fun Driven Development - Building Momentum for Agile Through Games

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Summary:
Games, like the ones described on TastyCupcakes.org, provide the opportunity for agile teams to quickly build on a shared experience, realize better ways of working and most importantly, to have fun!

Games, like the ones described on TastyCupcakes.org, provide the opportunity for agile teams to quickly build on a shared experience, realize better ways of working and most importantly, to have fun!

Let’s Play a Game

Grab a pencil and paper, and draw a picture that you feel best depicts ‘trust’.

We’ll wait…

Got it yet? No? Ok, take your time.

How about now?

What did you come up with? Someone falling backward while others safely catch them? A handshake? A child holding their parent’s hand?

Whatever you drew, we are willing to bet that it was a depiction of some experience that you have had or witnessed that involved interaction with others. Trust is not something you learn from a book, or an article, or on YouTube. It must be experienced.

The Problem with Principles
Communicating and conveying something as complex as a principle or value is hard. This is just as true outside the world of software development. It is obvious that we all value principles such as trust, integrity, or loyalty. The challenge is when you try to implement trust amongst a group of people working together. The reality is that these are team and cultural norms that are expressed in behavioral examples of human interaction. These examples become our expectations of others and signify the person’s demonstration of the value, implicitly and explicitly. 

Agile is about principles and values
There is not a single mention of process mechanics in the agile manifesto . The first statement in the manifesto is that we value people and interactions more than process and tools. This statement points directly at the hardest aspects of project leadership and management; the dynamics and complexity of human interaction on a software project.

Often, software development teams and organizations gravitate first to a methodology or practice assuming that by repetition of the mechanics, they too will be successful. Adopting agile is about changing a value system and this is really about changing people.

Changing People requires Self-Discovery
Reading the manifesto and listening to long-winded discussions about why agile is the answer will probably not go far in changing people. To really understand and internalize a concept people need to value it and the surest way to accomplish this is through self-discovery.

Self-discovery occurs when your audience reaches the conclusion for themselves, that agile is a better way of working. This is the most efficient and effective way to change beliefs and behaviors. Games create the experience for the group and set the context for reflection, dialogue, and self-discovery.

A Game Plan
As professional agile coaches and trainers we apply these games regularly. These games however are not just for the classroom or agile coaches. We have observed real teams leverage games throughout their agile adoption endeavors to communicate specific values while providing common team experiences. We understand that every organization and every team is different, and at TastyCupcakes.org, there is a comprehensive toolkit of games that touch on all facets of agile.

Below, however, we have outlined a series of games, a game plan if you will, to demonstrate how they may be applied to common situations that are observed in software development every day. This is not a roadmap for agile adoption, just some games that you might apply along the way.

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About the author

Michael  McCullough's picture Michael McCullough

Michael McCullough is Senior Technical Director with Quadrus based in Calgary Alberta Canada. Michael is an experienced Consultant, Agile Coach, Certified Scrum Master, Certified PMP, and Instructor. Michael provides expert guidance, training and services to small, medium and large organizations for the introduction and adoption of Agile and Lean approaches with high effectiveness and efficiency. Michael works with both executives and product teams to ensure strategy and business objectives are fully aligned with tactics and technology. Michael is a founder of TastyCupcakes.com, an online toolkit of games for agile teams.You can contact Michael directly by email. Mike on LinkedIn.

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