Agile Games – ball point game

The ball point game, which was, I believe, designed by Boris Gloger, is one game I wholeheartedly suggest for those of you who think learning comes from play.

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I recently had the honor of working alone to revitalize the agile roots of one of the leading media firms in London.

In order to refresh everyone’s memory on agile concepts and practices, I conducted an all-day session and used this game as a warm-up.

I was rather pleased with the outcome. There were a lot of fascinating similarities between agile and lean, which made the group look to be having a great time while doing it. This created a really helpful foundation for thought and conversation.

In a sizable conference room, I played the game with perhaps fifty other players. Even with the big number of people in attendance, the space remained functional and spacious without being gigantic.

If you’ll pardon the term, you’ll need a lot of balls to play the game! I had 60 tennis balls for a gathering of 50 individuals and discovered that they functioned effectively. In addition, a flipchart, pen, and timer are required.

This is how it operates.

In two minutes, the team must pass as many balls through as possible to win the game. Though they are very few, the regulations must be followed. These serve as the team’s actual limitations. These are as follows:

In order to prevent spoiling the fun for others, if you have played this game previously, please join in discreetly.

You can’t alter the size of your team since you are one large unit.

For a ball to be counted, each member of the team must contact it.

Every ball must have air time during its passing between team members; that is, it cannot be passed straight from hand to hand.

The person directly to your left or right cannot receive the ball.

You cannot pick up a ball that you have dropped.

If you violate any of the rules, you will be penalized (points will be taken away).

Each ball must come to a conclusion where it began. The team receives one point for each ball that makes contact.

You have two minutes to gather yourself and make your plan of attack. A team member will pencil in the number of balls the team believes it can manage on the flipchart.

The game will then be played for two minutes. You will note on the flipchart how many balls the team actually completed during the game, along with their initial estimate.

The next task is to discover how to improve for one minute. To do this, write down on the flipchart what the team has agreed to modify in relation to the estimate and actual. Next, repeat the process.

You will complete five iterations in total, noting the modifications and the estimate for each cycle.

Seeing the team’s self-organization, communication patterns, and the source and style of leadership was really intriguing. Seeing the team’s learning curve and how their estimations improved until they modified the procedure was also quite fascinating.

This illustrates that every process has an inherent speed. Changing the process is frequently a better way to expedite things than working harder or quicker.

Because the team has such little time to learn throughout the game, you might need to provide some pointers. Aim to avoid giving away too much of the game’s secrets too soon. For example, you may wish to provide hints to the team during the learning minute, such as “eliminate waste” or “maximize resources,” after a few repetitions. Subsequently, you may wish to suggest that they utilize both hands, and even later, that they may cup their hands together to reduce the number of balls they drop (reduced waste).

When I played this game again, I noticed something interesting: both times during the first round, the teams failed to set up a method to keep track or gauge their performance. They were therefore unsure of their performance, and if they didn’t make this correction, they would be unable to determine if their adjustments had a genuine impact. That, in my opinion, was a fantastic method to illustrate the importance of velocity.

Overall, it was a really thought-provoking, entertaining, and effective icebreaker. People frequently brought up ideas shown by the game later in the day.

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