Innovation Games® for Better Teams and Better Products

agile innovation gamesAs Scrum Development grows in popularity, many organizations are wondering how they are doing.  Are they delivering more business value faster with fewer defects and that more accurately meet customer and user needs? For some the improvement is clear, but for many determining the improvement in business value delivery is not discernable because there was no measurement of the speed of business value before the adoption of Agile.

3Back is offering a new approach to the assessment of software development teams using Innovation Games®.  With four officially Innovation Games® Trained Facilitators on staff enables us to help organizations quickly gain a deep understanding of their team’s Agile development process, progress. This assessment will provide the next steps for the organization.

Each assessment program will be customized and tuned to the organization.  The assessment has four distinct phases.

phased scrum approach innovation games

Phase I – Planning and Preparation

This phase will develop the plan for the overall assessment.  Interviews will be conducted with key team members to select the specific facilitated discussions to be conducted.  This phase will also plan the details of the event day.

Phase II – Facilitated Discussions Event Day

This phase is the actual day long event during which one or more Innovation Games® will be facilitated by Innovation Games® Trained Facilitators.

Phase III – Event Processing Analysis and Report

In this phase the facilitators will analyze the results and prepare a comprehensive report of the findings.

Phase IV – Recommendation Implementation (Optional)

This optional phase will include facilitated team and / or leadership meetings to address the assessment report.

Play an Innovation Game: Learning Matrix

Goal: Think of Effective Improvements for Your Iteration

Iteration retrospective activities are tricky; it is often difficult to think of practical improvements, and reflecting on negative aspects of the project can leave your team feeling upset and unmotivated. A great way to prevent these from occurring is to play a game that focuses on the positives while also pointing out aspects that need to be changed. As described in Diana Larsen and Esther Derby’s Agile Retrospectives, Learning Matrix does just this. In this game, teams collaborate to identify what they liked and disliked about a past project, and to point out whom they appreciated and what they believe should be altered for the future. Whether analyzing the results of a conference, product, or meeting, Learning Matrix can help you uncover your top-priority items to enhance your iteration.

The Game

Innovation Games QuadrantBefore your meeting, create a 2×2 matrix. Draw a picture in each quadrant to represent a different aspect involved in your retrospective analysis:

  • Quadrant 1: Frown face for aspects you disliked, should be changed
  • Quadrant 2: Smiley face for aspects you liked, should be repeated
  • Quadrant 3: Light bulb for new ideas to try
  • Quadrant 4: Bouquet for people you appreciated

Provide players with plenty of sticky notes and markers. Allow 5-10 minutes for participants to individually write down their ideas for the four topics on separate notes. After all players are done writing their ideas, ask them to present their sticky notes to the group and to post them on the designated sections of the chart.

Narrow down the notes to a few requiring immediate attention. To do this, give each player 6 – 10 dot stickers, which they will use to dot vote for the ideas they believe are top-priority. Resolve ties by discussing which note is more pressing or having another dot vote. Count all the votes to determine which ideas should be focused on. Narrowing ideas down is important, as it allows the team to concentrate on priorities and increases the chance of effective improvements being made.

Move the notes around to reflect the order of priority. Collaborate to evaluate how these ideas can be used to enhance your next iteration and discuss where you can begin making improvements.

Why It Works

This exercise allows you to perform retrospective analysis while maintaining a positive environment. By organizing your thoughts, you can lay out your plan for improvement and discover how to enhance your project for the future. Collaborate to identify what should be repeated, changed, or tried, and to congratulate team members for a job well-done.

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