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Serious Games for Scrum Teams

Most of the Essence serious games can be played by Scrum Teams. We have developed some additional games though, just for Scrum. This page lists some of the games most suitable for Scrum teams. 

Many of the games are easily played within Essence in Practice TeamSpace™, either directly or using a GameBoard. There are GameBoard templates for many of these games that can be used or adapted.

If you are not using TeamSpace, for most of these games you will need:

  • Physical or Electronic cards or tokens for the practice(s) you are using
  • Physical or Electronic canvas of some sort such as flipchart, whiteboard, Mural or Miro.

Practice Patience for Scrum

Prioritize team practice improvements

Approach

  • Select a practice to inspect & adapt / improve.
  • Use a 3*3 grid with ‘Relative Importance’ from top to bottom (High – Medium - Low) and ‘How Good Are We?’ from left to right (Great - OK - Bad).
  • Take one card or token at a time. Discuss and place it on the board. Use the text on the card to help you.
  • Avoid overlapping cards.
  • Identify and record improvement change actions as you go.
  • Prioritize actions based on card grid positions.

Notes

  • Use turn-based or simultaneous play to get people more involved and play more honestly.
  • Use different axes to explore other aspects of your practice.
  • Time box the session and prioritize the elements to map.
  • Play frequently with a small number of different elements.
  • Join up with another team and compare your results.
  • Why not try playing with Values, Principles or Spotify Health-check elements instead?
A picture of the game being played

How Well Do You Scrum?

Inspect the Scrum Practice and consider how well you think you are applying it

Approach

  • Create a grid with ‘How Well Do We Do This’ on the vertical axis (3 or 5 levels) and ‘How Difficult Is This?’ on the horizontal axis (3 levels).
  • For each Scrum element, vote how difficult you think it is to do well, and then assess how well you think you are doing it.
  • For things you find difficult, what could you do to make them easier?
  • For things you don’t think you do well, how could you improve?
  • For things you do well, could you share your experiences to  help other teams?
  • Agree actions or improvements.

Notes

  • This is a version of Practice Patience. Why not experiment with other axes?
A picture of the game being played

Practice Spotlight

Conduct an in-depth analysis of elements of your Practice to understand them better.

Approach

  • Choose which practice elements you wish to inspect (eg Important Activities, Practice Values). Consider using Practice Patience or Practice Prioritization to select which elements to inspect.
  • Take each element in turn and place in the center of the canvas.
  • Arrange any other cards that relate to it around the Inspection Element.
  • Draw arrows from the Inspection Element to the other cards and describe the relationship.
  • Use notes to add any other things that are important from outside the practice.
  • Discuss what this tells you and whether you want to take any actions as a team.

Notes

  • Play turn-based or collaboratively.
  • This game works well played regularly with a small number of elements each time rather than the whole practice.
  • Play in multiple groups and compare results to see how well the elements are understood across your team or teams.
A picture of the game being played

Scrum Contract Bridge

Agree separation of responsibilities between team, organization or contract boundaries.

Approach

  • Consider prioritizing the practice elements if you are timeboxing the game. For instance, the 5 Scrum Events.
  • On a physical or electronic whiteboard or flipchart draw a horizontal line, with a Customer area above and a Supplier area below.
  • For each practice element (eg Backlog Refinement) place the card to denote responsibility as follows:
  • Above or below the line: Sole responsibility of the Customer or Supplier
  • Central on line: A collaborative and shared responsibility, with equal weight
  • Not central on line: Responsibility with one party but requiring input, support or agreement from the other party
  • Annotate cards on the line with notes describing the responsibilities and expectations.

Notes

  • This game can be used for any kind of boundary between people, teams, organizations or even things (eg Backlog Items or Next/Later epics on a Roadmap).
  • Play separately and compare results.
  • Inspect and adapt your conclusions periodically; they may change.

Supercharge Your Scrum

Study the Scrum Accelerator patterns and select which ones can improve your team performance

Approach

  • Create 4 areas labelled -  ‘We Got This’, ‘This Isn’t For Us’, ‘Looks Interesting, We Should Try This’, ‘We Need To Do This Now’.
  • Take each Scrum Accelerator card in turn and discuss it. Make sure the team understands it.
  • Place it in one of the areas depending upon how the team feels about it.
  • For patterns you want to try, prioritize them and identify how you can start applying them.
  • For patterns you are already using, rank your happiness with them and consider whether you need to do anything differently.
  • Prioritize your actions and commit to at least one next Sprint.
  • Consider the Scrum Accelerator workshop for a more in depth alternative to this game.

Notes

  • To involve everybody, try turn play with a different player suggesting the position for each new pattern. Then discuss if necessary.
  • Vote (perhaps simultaneously) to select a location. Voting can be done by everyone moving a token (eg a sticky note) to the location they want to vote for. For simultaneous, use a countdown and forbid any last minute changes of mind! (Or use a built in voting system on a canvas like Mural)
  • There are other best practice patterns you could include in this game. Some of these Scrum ones came from Scrum Pattern Group (scrumplop.org), which is updated frequently.
  • Try crowd-sourcing other patterns from other teams in your Organization.
  • Try with Organization Values, principles or things like the Spotify Healthcheck questions for a different sort or healthcheck.
A picture of the game being played

Build Your Own Scrum

Put your Scrum knowledge to the test!

Approach

  • Use a blank canvas and the Scrum cards. Using tokens (rather than full cards) can save space.
  • Put a card on the board (perhaps Sprint Planning or Product Backlog).
  • Take it in turns to put another card on the board. Add notes and connections to describe how it relates to the cards already on the board. Try not to move on until you have captured everything. Start with what you think before reading the cards for guidance.
  • If there is disagreement, note it and move on.
  • As more cards are added, move other cards around to help tell the story better.
  • Once you are complete, compare your answer to the Scrum Inc. picture.
  • Discuss what you have learnt as a team and consider any actions you wish to take.
  • Consider playing this game any time the team membership changes.

Notes

  • This is a great game for exposing how much you do (or don’t) understand about Scrum.
  • Where you disagree with the Scrum cards, think about why that is? What has led to this diversion. Are those factors still valid?
  • This game can be played with other practices.
  • This game can be used to map a team’s way of working. If there aren’t  cards for everything the team does, use sticky notes to capture the other elements.

Scale Your Scrum

Inspect the Scrum Practice and identify how to scale it.

Approach

  • This game works best when you have a specific product in mind, but can also be played generically.
  • Create a board with three columns labelled: ‘As Is’, ‘Requires a Scaled Version’ and ‘Unsure’.
  • Lay out the Scrum Essentials cards (or tokens), including Scrum Foundation.
  • Take it in turns to move one card at a time on the board. Discuss and agree as a team where it belongs.
  • If you can’t agree, place it in ‘Unsure’.
  • Discuss how to scale the necessary elements. The Scrum of Scrums or Executive Scrum cards may help.

Notes

  • This approach can work with any practice.
  • The Scrum of Scrums and Executive Scrum cards describe [email protected] There are other scaled approaches like SAFe, LeSS, Nexus, Disciplined Agile and FAST that have similar and complementary ideas that may be worth considering. In some cases the major difference is the name of the element.
A picture of the game being played

Event Scheduling

Customize Scrum for your team’s situation by deciding your event frequency, participation and rules.

Approach

  • Lay out a board with 6 columns: Event, Who, When, Where, Why, How. These describe how you will handle one of the Scrum events.
  • Lay out the Scrum event cards in a vertical column under the ‘Event heading.
  • For each event, add a note in each column that describes how you intend to manage that event.
  • The event card should help you with the ‘Why’.
  • Pattern cards may help with the ‘How’.
  • Display the board in your Team Area or store the electronic version somewhere accessible such as your TeamSpace®TeamRoom, in Confluence or a Mural room. The more visible the better.

Notes

  • This approach can work with any set of events that your team participates in.
  • Make sure you consider each team members working preferences. Perhaps combine this game with Team Chartering games

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