Can online agile workshops be just “like the real thing”?

The onine No Estimates game
  1. It’s real-time and local; everyone in the game is acutely aware of the state of the game as it right there on their browser. When a player adds effort to a card, it immediately shows up on everyone else’s browser. If a card is blocked it goes red and everyone knows it’s blocked. Seeing and playing the game locally on your own browser is so much more involving than seeing it on a shared screen.
  2. There is active participation; players are always actively doing something; they have no choice but to perform tasks — adding effort to items, pulling in new cards, etc. — and discuss what to do next. Its very difficult to drift off if you are interacting with the game at very frequent intervals.
  3. It encourages — well, forces — focus; it is very easy to popup up a message to make a point. Every few rounds of the game, we can pop up a retro window, for instance, so teams can reflect and adapt. At the end of every round we pop up an Event card with information and actions to be performed along with the current cards and value delivered. All this helps to keep the players engaged and focussed; it’s not possible to drift off if your team mates are clamouring for you to work on a task on the board…
  4. Using real data makes the story real; we can generate all kinds of data and show it to the participants as and when it is pertinent; it is much more powerful to say “this is your cycle time so far” than “here is a stock image of a typical cycle time”. Also, as the game is software, we can do this in real-time, as and when we need to. We can even generate complex calculations such as monte carlo simulations with100,000 runs at the touch of a button.

Learnings

As fascinating as all this is, and however engaging and fun games like this are, they are only useful if they give valuable learnings. As already mentioned, we can use the actual game data to generate illustrations of these learnings, and this helps to make the debrief at the end of the game relevant and interesting.

Estimates

Running The Game

We are happy to run this game (and others — see below) as a remote workshop, or to teach you how to facilitate it yourself. We have run it with over 80 participants in 8 teams, but it can be as large or small as you need. It’s even possible to use it for a single team (without dependencies, obviously) if necessary.

Other Games and Activities

We have developed, or are building a number of similar games to demonstrate various concepts, including:

  1. The Coin Game — a simple game to demonstrate value-driven delivery and why this reduces risk whle maximizing value delivery to the customer.
  2. The Interdependent Teams Game — a simultation to explore the best way to handle work in interdependent teams with surprising results!
  3. The Pipeline Game— a game to explore whether we can maximise customer value delivery by concentrating on delivering quality, or by learing quickly.
  4. The Pairing Simulation — an exploration of how knowledge sharing through pairing is an effective development strategy

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Steve Wells

Steve Wells

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Building online versions of agile workshops such as the No Estimates game, to see how close we can get to the face-to-face experience for remote or hybrid teams