Experiment and play in multiple teams while learning about continuous improvement.
Learning goals: Agile production process and iterative working
Time to play: 60 minutes
In person or Virtual: Both
Number of players: 4+ players
Resources required: Ping pong balls – multicolored can be fun.
How the game works:
The objective of Ball Point is to help the Scrum team navigate agile projects better. By understanding the agile production process, the team can appreciate the importance of self-organization, flow, and iterative working.
Agile ball game rules
The goal is to, as one team, get as many balls through the system as possible in 3 sprints.
The rules are as follows
- There are 3 minutes per iteration and 5 iterations
- In between, there is a 1-minute retrospective
- The ball needs to start and end with the same person
- The ball must have passed through everyone in the team
- The ball must have air time
- It can’t be passed to the person next to them.
- If the ball is dropped, it does not count.
Gather the team and provide the goals and instructions.
Ask them to estimate how many balls they will get through each iteration. You can do one estimation at the start of the cycle and another short estimation in between each iteration.
Start the process and time the activity. Let them play it out, and then record the number of balls transferred. Record the score and then time their retrospective, allowing them to change how it is played. They can then come up with new strategies as well as new estimates.
Repeat the above process for as many iterations as possible, recording the score each time.
Once all iterations are completed, run a debrief. You can ask questions such as
- What was your experience like in the game?
- How did the iterations differ?
- What changes did you make, and what effect did they have?
- How important were the retrospectives? What would have happened if there was none, more or less time to reflect?
- How different was the last iteration from the first?
- Did you experience the concept of flow?
- Which iteration stood out?
- How did you feel like working as a team?
- Did leadership change during the iterations?
- What did you learn from playing this game?
Variations to the Agile ball point game
You can add to this challenge by
- Grouping the large groups into smaller ones and creating zones where people can stand.
- Having rules around which colored or numbered balls have to go first
- Creating a little chaos by having a call for people to have to switch positions