Coin Game

Get flipping with a kanban workflow challenge that will help teams stay active.

Learning goals: The first principle of the Agile Manifesto,  Continuous deployment

Time to play: 15 minutes

In person or Virtual: Both

Number of players: 3+ people

Resources required: 20 coins – They don’t have to be the same.

How the game works:

The goal of the coin game is to learn about the first principle of the agile manifesto, which is “ Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

The Coin Game rules

The goal of this game is to work out the fastest way to deliver value to the customer as a team. Essentially this means comparing agile to traditional approaches and determining the best batch size.

The rules are as follows

  • There is a set number of coins representing value to the customer.
  • Each coin needs to be flipped by each person along the value chain before it is given to the customer.
  • The process is timed to see how long it takes to deliver value to the customer.
  • There will be 3+ iterations that are timed.

Gather the team and provide the goals and instructions.

Separate them into teams of 5 or 6 people. They can represent different roles in the value chain.

Have people decide the fastest way they can take turns flipping the coins and stacking them at the end of the process, ready for delivery to the customer.

After a minute of discussion, start the timer and let them play it out. Stop the timer when all the coins have been flipped by each person and stacked.

Allow a one-minute retrospective to see how they might change the strategy and then repeat the activity above.

Re-run the activity, recording the time taken for each iteration.

Once all iterations are completed, run a debrief. You can ask questions such as

  • Which batch sizes did the best in terms of time? Why do you think that is?
  • Was there anything that surprised you in the game?
  • How do you think it would change if the distance between people were increased?
  • How do you think things would change if you had to wait 10 seconds each time there was a handover of coins?
  • If you introduced a change request during the game, how did that impact the process?
  • If you had compared it to the traditional waterfall approach, what differences did you notice?
  • How good were the team’s time estimates?
  • What else did you learn from this activity that you wanted to share?

Variations to the Coin Agile Game

You can vary to this challenge by 

  • Having the teams start off by completing the task in a traditional waterfall approach where every coin was flipped by one person before it was moved to the next person. This acts as a baseline.
  • Introducing one or more change requests to the process – e.g., I only want $2 coins or Coins with a picture of an animal.
  • Have teams estimate how long it would take to complete the task at different batch times.

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