Teaching Scrum: The Agile Values Puzzle Game

Summary

This simple agile manifesto game will help teams learn about the agile values and principles by providing a set of pieces of the agile manifesto that can be put together after discussion and debate.

Juan Absi and I (Ignacio Paz) created this simple and effective game to learn about agile values and principles of the Agile Manifesto that we use in our Scrum training that we provide to all our new employees in our Velocity Partners office in Rosario, Argentina.

Objective of the game

To let participants learn and discover about agile values and principles in fully interactive and participative mode, without the need for a presentation and with minimal facilitation, full debate, and fun.

Facilitator artifacts

Print the following cards in English or Spanish.

Agile Value cards

 

Twelve Agile Principles cards

Tip: I like to print them in A4/Letter colored pages so one can put them on a board and they are visible and readable by all attendees.

Steps of the Agile Values Puzzle Game

Connection – What do you know about agile? (optional)

It is good to start by asking the participants what they think agile is and is not.

Write everything they say in two columns (“Agile is”, “Agile is not”) without questioning or arguing any response. This is just to capture what they “think” agile is.

Concept – Clean up answers (optional)

After adding all entries, ask if any entry should be removed or if someone disagree, discuss with the group and strike through the ones the group feels are incorrect.

Agile is: Agile is not:
Iterations

Commitment

predefined processes

Waterfall

Concrete Practice – The Agile Manifesto Game

1) Don’t mention the Manifesto

Do not mention anything about the agile manifesto, values or principles.

2) Groups

Tell the attendees to split into 2 to 4 groups of about 2 to 6 persons. Do not say how – just let them self-organize.

3) Agile Values

  • Provide values cards: Provide a set of the Agile value cards to each group
  • Directions:
    • Four pairs of concepts: Tell the participants to organize the cards into 4 pairs, where each pair should be two concepts that are contradictory on their own but complementary at the same time when they are together.
    • More value: For each pair of concepts, tell the participants to select the concept that they think is more important in a scenario where you could only pick one and just one. Put the most valuable concept on the left.
    • If at any steps a group is confused, do not give answers, tell them to consult with another group. Clarify the directions of the exercise if needed.
  • Values Wall: Tell to each group to:
    • Pick one pair and stand up and show the cards to the other groups. They must pick a pair that no other group has picked.
    • Explain to the other groups their selection and decision.
    • If other groups do not agree or the selection is not aligned to the agile manifesto, facilitate discussion until they reach an agreement.
    • If the other groups agree with their selection, they can put the cards on a wall with tape. The concept with most value should be on the left.
    • Repeat until 4 different unique pairs of concepts are on the wall totally aligned with the agile manifesto values page. It should look like in the picture.

4) Agile Manifesto

Introduce to the Agile Manifesto: Explain that what they have built intuitively is the Agile Manifesto and these are the four values “That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” Discuss who the authors are, the history, and whatever else you want.

  • Most important / most difficult: You can also ask for dot voting on which value is the most important value and which one is the most difficult and discuss why.

5) Agile Principles

Provide about 6 to 12 agile principle cards to each group and tell them that they are the twelve principles of the agile manifesto.

  • Principles mapping to values: Tell each group to
    • Discuss all the principles in 4 minutes and decide to which of the values each of them match better.
    • Present one principle, read it to all groups, say to which value it maps and put it in the row aligned to that value (this is totally subjective, there is no official mapping of principles to any value, it is just a memory and discussion game).
    • Ask other groups if they would like to add anything.
    • Repeat until all the 12 principles are on the wall with the values. It should look something like this:

Conclusion

Ask all participants what kind of conclusions they can make about the agile values, principles, and their daily work. Relate to their first thoughts about what agile is and is not.

Notes

The game is very simple and let the people find the agile values intuitively and with common sense. The idea is that they decide and agree on what is more important by themselves instead of someone imposing the concepts. In my experience, people match the values with minimal or no assistance at all.

Go ahead and try this game at work, class or training! Have fun teaching and learning Agile! 🙂

Ignacio Paz (LinkedIn)

 

Ignacio Paz

Agile Manager - Solution Manager in Velocity Partners / Chief Professor in “Agile Methodologies” / Professor in Systems Design / CSP / Ignacio has more than 17 years of experience in the Software industry.