Agile Transition Bingo

A few weeks ago we had a very interesting discussion on how to add more fun to your work. Especially the things that are hard to do or are actually no fun to do at all. Very soon we were talking about gamification which is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts. And this triggered me to add some fun to a very large and important transition we are working on at one of our partners.

Note – The next paragraph is just for fun so if you are looking for the serious stuff you should skip this paragraph or maybe skip this entire blog. If you don’t like fun you probably won’t like playing bingo!

Gamification of life

I really like the concept of gamification. You can apply it to almost everything, even if it is very small; In fact I already apply this every morning. What I noticed was that every morning I am searching for a matching pair of socks. With dimmed lights and my eyes half closed I was looking for minutes! to find a matching pair. How to game this? Well that’s easy, first matching pair wins! It works!

Agile transition bingo

So now for a little more serious stuff; like I mentioned we are working together with one of our partners to help them with their agile transition. This is a huge operation with a tremendous impact on people, technology and the organisation. This is done by setting clear boundaries and extremely intensive coaching. So on a Friday afternoon (of course) on of the Scrum Masters on the team started to talk about bullshit bingo, which we all know, and how funny that was. And a few iterations later we came up with Agile Transition Bingo.

Goal of the game

Like in every game there is a certain goal or purpose why you would like to play this game. Our goal was something like:
This transition is far more than just doing Scrum or Continuous Delivery. It is also about changing behavior! Why not make it fun?

How do you play?

So how does this work? First, I have to say this game has had only one iteration before going live. We are still figuring out if the rules are covering the fair play principle enough, but I didn’t wanted to wait to share this with you. Leave any improvements in the comments below!

  • We measure the state of our transition by playing bingo!
  • We play with 2 bingo cards; Waterfall & Scrum
  • As long as the Waterfall Bingo card wins over the Scrum Bingo card, we still have work to do!

Below the cards we played with but you can create your own here (link):

1waterfall-bingo1scrum-bingo

The Rules:

  • If during any Scrum event (Sprint planning, Scrum of Scrums, Daily Scrum etc.) a word is mentioned it can be crossed out.
  • Intentional mentioning of a word with the sole purpose of filling the bingo card will not be counted.
  • Frequent abuse of above mentioned rule will have consequences to be determined by referees (don’t worry nothing crazy)
  • A new game will start if one of the bingo cards is full
  • Keeping score is up to the Scrum Teams themselves, not delegation to (project) managers, coaches or anyone else. Self organize!
  • Agile/Continuous Delivery coaches act as referees and are excluded from participation
  • A referees’ decision is final

Does it Scale?

Since the first round has just started today with a department of five teams we are not sure yet if this can be scaled throughout the organization. I think it does. Just create a variety of cards and determine a couple of rounds.

GAME ON! (of Bingo!)

2 Responses to “Agile Transition Bingo

  • So what do you do with the full cards? Will you discuss them in a retrospect meeting? And what is the role of the P.O. in this? Is he/she involved and excited as you are?

  • Hi Erik,

    I would just replace the card with a new one. If the ‘Agile’ card wins over the ‘ old’ card I would celebrate the sh*t out of it!
    But I would not discuss the card during a retrospective but rather intervene when the behavior occurs. Using these cards you confront people with the behavior and you delegate the monitoring of the behavior to the team itself. So this way you will have the team create opportunities for you as Scrum Master of Agile Coach to coach the team. Saving it until the retrospective will probably make it a negative/nagging session so be careful with that. The PO is just as involved in this game as everyone else. So I hope a PO will understand why I would do this otherwise I will explain it again and again.

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