Continuing my blogging around agile game play, I attended Gabrielle Benefield’s product creation workshop today, one of my key takeaway’s was a pretty simple, yet powerful learning game, Paper planes.

 

1. Supplies

  • A4 paper ream
  • Scissor
  • Masking Tape

1. Setup

  • Create a “test” area away from the teams, and mark on the floor with the tape, a 3 meter gap.
  • Place A4 sheets on each table
  • Create Team sheets, with 3 columns, Sprint, Plan to build, and Actual Number Built
  • Write out instructions on the flip chart
    • Planes made from 1/4 A4 sheets
    • Each plane must have a blunt tip
    • 1 fold per person
    • each plane must fly 3 meters
    • once a plane is built it can be tested
    • if it fails the test, take it back to the team to fix
    • 1 minute Planning
    • 3 minute Building
    • 1 minute to review how your working (Retrospective)
    • any unfinished work is not taken into the next sprint

2.Initial presentation

Set the tone for the day, someone needs to act as the customer, introduce the rules to the teams, we are a paper plane manufacturing plant, and a new order has come in for paper planes for Kids.  The company on this request, has made the following rules

  1. Each plane is made of 1/4 of a A4 page – as the kids have small fingers
  2. Each plane needs to have a blunt tip to prevent damage to eyes
  3. Each person on the team can do one fold, then pass it onto the others
  4. Each plane must fly at least 3 meteres, and the company has created a test area
  5. If a plane fails the test, it must be taken back to the team area to inspect and fix
  6. There will be 4 sprints to complete the work
The timing will be: you now have 1 minute to plan how you want to build the plane, then you will have 3 minutes to build as many plan
Pass out the team sheets, ask the team to write the number of planes they think will pass test in the 3 minutes.
Your now ready to start sprint 1.
3.Play the game Sprint 1 & 2 – Set the foundation
Provide timing for the teams, count them down from planning, and the build phase, keep an eye on the testing area, to see how many planes pass the 3 meter line (if possible get different coloured paper for each team, it will help count the tested planes )
Impact:
Over sprints 1 and 2 the team is figuring out what works what does not work, this sets the foundations for Sprint 3
4.Play the game Sprint 3 – Oh so helpful
At the start of Sprint 3, the management feel that we need to up the pace, encourage the teams to commit to a large number of planes, lets say they were committing to 3 or 4 in sprints 1 & 2, ask them to commit to 20. When they resist (which they hopefully will, if they dont its a point to discuss in the debrief), say that management is really going to dig in a help, dont worry, were in this together…
After some back and forth, start the sprint, at this point, get the management to help the teams, by praising them, saying words of encouragement etc, but no actual work. At the end of the sprint, the teams will most likely have increased the amount they deliver, not really near the large forced number (20), this should be due to getting more experience at building planes. Have a conversation around how management might misinterpret this increase as being down to their “help”.
Impact:
This will ideally show the disconnect between behaviour and results. How Management might feel that their help caused the increase in output.
5.Play the game Sprint 4 – Empowerment
On the back of the Sprint 3 chat, offer the team,what changes would they make to the rules.
You should end up with something like this
  1. Each plane is made of 1/4 of a A4 page – as the kids have small fingers – where did this rule come from ? the customer did not ask for it…bigger things are actually easier for kids to use
  2. Each plane needs to have a blunt tip to prevent damage to eyes – keep
  3. Each person on the team can do one fold, then pass it onto the others,  this really offers no value and causes huge delays…
  4. Each plane must fly at least 3 meteres, and the company has created a test area – why is the test area away from the team ? lets move it closer
  5. If a plane fails the test, it must be taken back to the team area to inspect and fix

Ask the team now what they feel they can commit to , run the sprint, you should see a jump from 3 or 5 to around 12

Impact:

The impact now that the team has been empowered, is that output should go up, and the team will be working in a more natural way.

 

Like with all the agile games we play, the value is in the conversations, not really in the playing of the game, the game is just a container to hold the learning.

 

 

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