07 Mar 2015
Our Top Five Reasons For Playing GetScrumban
For some time now, game-based learning has been recognized as a particularly effective way to teach and assess a variety of skills and knowledge. In fact, those of us who consult and train on software development practices and frameworks probably couldn’t survive without them – forms of “edutainment” are the only practical way to effectively instill core concepts and practices within the limited windows of opportunity we’re typically provided.
Several years ago, Russ Healey developed a physical board game to help educate on core lean and kanban principles in the context of software development (The getKanban Game). Rather than trying to understand kanban systems through lecture-based theory, players actually experience how these systems work through interactive play. Competing against one another in a race to produce the most value, teams feel the tensions associated with making trade-offs and gain a more intuitive understanding of the insights and perspectives that can be gleaned from new kinds of performance metrics.
When we were interested in developing a similar tool for teaching Scrumban, Russ kindly lent his permission to adapt getKanban for our purposes.
Scrum is an incredibly popular and effective software development framework. Its greatest benefits are usually derived as teams and organizations mature in their understanding and application of its core principles and practices. Scrum’s reliance on collective motivation and effort to mature and master the framework, however, represents both a strength and a weakness.
Scrumban helps leverage Scrum’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses by applying the Kanban Method as set of complementary tools & capabilities. We’ve used Scrumban very effectively to help teams and organizations accelerate their transitions to Scrum from other development methodologies, to help teams and organizations overcome a variety of common challenges Scrum (purposefully) causes them to confront, and, when both necessary and appropriate, to evolve practices into a new and unique framework that works best for a given context.
Because Scrumban entails more than just learning about kanban systems, we wanted to share our top five reasons why GetScrumban represents a great learning aid for Scrum teams.
Reason # 5: On-line vs. Board Game Format
There are advantages and disadvantages to each game format. Physical games offer a tactile reinforcement and manual calculations and scoring can lead to a better understanding of some principles. On the other hand, they also depend upon a physical presence in the classroom, can take more time to set up and explain, and aren’t practical to interrupt or extend over time.
As an on-line gaming platform, GetScrumban opens up new possibilities for trainers, organizations and students. Distributed teams can engage and learn together – just as they’d have to in real life. Game play can become a long-term, remote tool for continuing education. And the low cost plus lack of any physical inventory remove economic barriers to both using the tool and scaling it across large efforts.
Reason # 4: Start with What You’re Doing
One of the Kanban Method’s core principles is to respect current roles and ways of working. Managing psychological and human factors in this fashion is one of Kanban’s greatest strengths, and especially worthy of explicit reinforcement.
In this spirit, every getScrumban game begins with teams employing traditional Scrum roles, events and artifacts.
Reason # 3: Addressing Common Challenges Experienced in Scrum Environments
There are a variety of challenges teams and organizations commonly confront when they use Scrum. Many of these relate to effectively resolving organizational problems and dysfunctions that Scrum exposes.
The GetScrumban Game exposes some of these challenges, and let’s the team experience how some of the alternative tools and capabilities Scrumban enables can be used to overcome them. Many of these are played out in scenarios involving forecasting and estimation, work prioritization, and measured throughput.
Reason # 2: Change is Optional
Scrumban is complementary, not prescriptive. It doesn’t mandate change and neither does our game. Just like real life, GetScrumban players / teams reflect a variety of different ways of “working.” What works best in any given context is borne out by the final score!
Reason # 1: Change is Evolutionary
Not only is change optional in Scrumban, but if changes do occur, they tend to be evolutionary vs. radical. Game play is no different.
Allowing teams to experience the ease of introducing incremental, evolutionary changes, and then letting them see the results of those changes, teaches far more than a student could learn from one hundred hours of lecture-based instruction.
Try it Yourself
We rolled out a beta version of GetScrumban last month during a training workshop in Miami and most recently during August’s Kanban 101 session at Agile New England. So far, the feedback is great!
We’re inviting all interested members of the lean / agile community to try it out and share your feedback to help make it even better. Sign up and play at http://getScrumban.com (Are you a coach or trainer? Connect with us and request a free training account for a limited time).