Agile 1s

The 1’s game simulates swarming, story decomposition and WIP limits to give teams a visceral understanding of why some counter-intuitive practices actually lead to more regular delivery of value for the customer. Often called the ‘Kanban 1’s game’ I’ve found that this game is very useful for teams trying to get an understanding of basic agile practices, whether they’re going to use Kanban or not.

More information about the game and its rules here

I had the luck to play the Agile 1s game at the Agile Tour London 2014 and that was in my opinion the highlight of the conference.

Seb Rose facilitated the game and as he promised by the end of the session I was in a position to run the game. And I did! I facilitated several sessions within my company. Started with my team, then the company’s Agile guild and after getting positive reviews some more teams within the company. People with different backgrounds were involved including developers, software analysts, project managers and team leads. So apart from having lots of fun here are some useful findings.

An ideal size of a story is 2-3 story points. A mix of 2s and 3s works the best
That seems to be the case in real life as well. Small to medium sized stories is the key for a successful sprint. Big stories can rarely be delivered within a single sprint. On the other hand, big number of very small stories can as well introduce risks of not fulfilling our commitments.

Co-operation and team awareness is the key to success
Being productive as an individual does not necessarily means that your teams gets the most out of you. Developers often want to concentrate on writing their code but this is not the best way to help their team. An agile team has to be flexible. Developers, according to the needs of the team, have to help in backlog grooming, analysis and testing even though this might not be the area of their speciality.

 The game facilitator sees more
Teams sometimes seem to miss the bigger picture. An external facilitator (eg a scrum master) can observe more and identify what the team does well. He can lead the conclusions, help the team realise their mistakes and point out things that are going well.

In my opinion the game was especially successful when played among people that work together. In my team we had at least several occurrences during the following sprint after the game where people would refer to it in the daily stand-ups, the planning sessions etc. I would highly recommend to teams that are about to start practising agile as well to those that already do.