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4/18/2018

Notepad: Highlights from the Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA


Notepad: Highlights from the Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA

Link to Notepad

Highlights from the Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:14 PM PDT

If you are not in the Agile world, It might sound like a gaming conference and a very fast one! It might be! Depending on what session you attend and your perspective. Agile Games is an annual Agile conference in Boston, Massachusetts; held by Agile New England.

I was invited to the conference as a speaker for two sessions; "User Stories by Collaboration" and "Modern XP Game", the latter one co-delivered with Carlos Oliveria. If you want to learn more about the sessions please visit User Stories by Collaboration and Modern XP Game on my homepage.

This post includes the highlights of the Agile Games 2018 from my perspective. I hope it is valuable to you. 

Tim Ottinger - Opening Keynote - Somewhere Between Frivolity and Dread: Psychologically Safe Training Games

The AgileGames2018 started by Tim Ottinger's keynote. He talked about Games, how we are using them & mainly safety around it. Games are fun, engaging and can easily transmit the message you want to deliver. They even can end up with very unexpecting results.


However, it is very easy to dive into the game and forget the main point. You don't want to facilitate a session using lego on Scrum, and when the team members go back to the work and their boss asks them what they did, reply we played some lego! The games need to have a goal attached to them.


Also, a great point to consider about designing a game or running activities is safety. Don't assume safety. When you are taking a picture, you might be making one person uncomfortable. When you are asking about the worst fear you can imagine in your facilitation, you are doing a very unsafe act. There are many aspects that you want to take into consideration.


You don't know what people have gone through. Tim shared a personal experience of himself, which was very touching. Don't assume safety. It's very hard to design a safe game/simulation. But good ones are out there and you can find them.

Woody Zuil - Coding Dojo

I attended a session with Woody Zuil. Based on the request of the people in the room, Woody has facilitated a coding dojo. We picked converting numeric numbers to roman numbers. We have gone through some discussion about coding, pairing, and mobbing. 


Woody talked about Driver and Observer v.s. Driver and Navigator. A navigator is a person that it thinking and navigating the development. However an Observer is a person that is sitting silent, and mostly thinking in their head, look at this idiot, he/she is not doing it right. I could have done a better job. You don't want to become an Observer. Keep in mind that the driver is just an extension of the keyboard. He/She is an extension, a smart extension, to the input.


We also have gone over the rotation, and how it works. How the next navigator is thinking of solving the problem and how the navigator at the time becomes the driver next time to have some time off. 

Some of the learnings from Woody:
  • Any idiot can learn to program.
  • You learn the rules by doing the game! 
  • Read by refactoring
  • As developers, we tend to develop alone, so much that when it comes to collaboration, we don't have many skills to do so.
  • Excellent idea, do what others are suggesting/doing. 
  • Navigator + Driver is similar to car race drivings. 
  • Navigator: Only one person in pair programming (not Mob). 
  • The Driver is the extension of the computer.
  • Navigator, wait to navigate. 
  • When things get though, take baby steps!
  • Least experienced at the keyboard first! 
  • Reg Green Test, just the system working, the coach doing this the first thing. 
  • This is called programming: copying and pasting. 
  • Coding by Intent. 
  • Before testing call out your intention, are you expecting it to pass or fail? 
  • Why are you programmers if you don't want things too hard? 

Ellen Gottesdiener - The Contracting Two Step: Patterns and Actions for Successful Collaborations 

Ellen talked about contracts and how social contracts in teams work. We started talking about trust, trust interactions and how does that help team. She introduced a canvas for people and teams to use to build social contracts. The canvas introduced was very similar to the skills marketplace introduced by Lyssa Adkins. 

Alex Harms - Cultivating Psychological Safety: the Hard Parts

I didn't take part in Alex's session. However, I learned from it. Through a very clever set of questions that gets into you, it helps you understand the situation better and connect with the conflict that you have at hand. 


Dana Payelava - Closing Keynote - Team Up To Eradicate Fear!

Dana talked about fear and how to deal with it. She introduced to us some tools. One of the tools is the "Fear Resetting Plan". In this plan, you think of the one fear that you want to face, or you can face. Then you think of different aspects of it and find three ways to deal with it. Then you decide on one action. It was very nice seeing Dana delivering her first keynote. I was so excited to see her talk as the keynote speaker. She handled a stressful situation of running out of time, or the assumption of it raied from the volunteers very well. 


She then introduced us to another set of cards on fears. This is a set of cards that can get you toward dealing with fears in your organization, and gives you some suggestions called "Safety Enhancement Cards". It is a nice game to play for and in a safe situation to talk about potential unsafe ones.


The closing keynote, as always when Dana facilitating, included lots of discussion and group activities.


The image above was just one of the rooms for the keynote. This conference would not have happened with the great work of Agile New England and its volunteers. Thanks to them a lot. 

In addition to the people, I mentioned above, It was very nice to meet old and new friends of Johanna Rothman, Paul Boss, April Jefferson, Richard Kasperowski, Carlos Oliveira, Jon Odo, Andrea Chiou and many other great people there.
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4/17/2018

User Stories by Collaboration - Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA


User Stories by Collaboration - Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA

Link to Shahin Sheidaei

User Stories by Collaboration - Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:04 PM PDT

I presented "User Stories by Collaboration" at the Agile Games 2018, a very interactive session. It was delivered the first session after the Keynote; I am truly humbled by the audience and their level of energy and enthusiasm that they brought.
What's most important about a user story? Collaboration! How many times have you heard about INVESTing in user stories, making them SMARTer, breaking them into SPIDRs, or biting the whole HAMBURGER? All great! Let me take you through an interactive game for the most important aspect: collaboration!
How would you go about teaching your team members about user stories? You have seen people talking about INVEST and/or 3Cs a lot. How many of those talks could be having longlasting effects? How can you make sure that the most important part of writing a user story, the conversation, to happen? How can you make that conversation in a truly collaborative environment for your teams to thrive? In this workshop you will learn how to write user stories by collaborating with others, we are going to divide into groups and work on user stories. No real experience is needed with writing user stories, understanding of them, or even have heard them before. Then we evolve the game into the next phase, user stories and teams. In this phase, we are going to work as a team on user stories, with again focusing on what's most important. This is an interactive simulation that you can run with your teams. You can use this exercise to emphasize the value of collaboration in writing user stories. In the last phase, we touch on self-organization and leadership aspects of the team. Once you learned this game, you can shape it into what you really want. There are many aspects of an Agile organization or a team is heavily related to how close and collaborative they are, and this is a perfect foundation to build upon.
It was a great session, with a great audience. I really enjoyed the discussion as well as the discussion with the audience. Although there were many challenges, such as not moving the tables around and not sticking papers to the wall.

Figure 1 - The Awesome Feedback from the Session
Although I was crunched in time, we were able to run the 3rd iteration; which was about delivering the user story as a team. There was one team that was able to split the stories and deliver. This great achievement happened with no guidance from me. I just asked them to deliver the product, get them into the team, set the ground rules and let them roam free! This was amazing to see how they self-organize and were able to break user stories without no fancy techniques, but by just collaborating.

Figure 2 - The Original in the 3rd Iteration

Figure 3 - The Developed Product
You can take a look at the presentation below. There are more slides in the deck below than presented in Agile Games 2018. There are skipped slides (hidden slides) that can immensely help you facilitate the session of your own. It is embedded in SlideShares and Google Slides.




You can also use the Google Slides to view the presentation or even present it!



The following are the pictures from the session:

Figure 4 - Pictures of the Session
Disclaimer: User Stories by Collaboration is based on User Stories vs Requirements. I learned it from Jason Little, which he learned it from Sarah Klarich, which is not known where she learned it from.

Modern XP Game, Agile Games 2018, Boston, MA

Posted: 15 Apr 2018 07:23 PM PDT

Carlos and I presented "Modern XP Game" at the Agile Games 2018. As we mentioned in one of the opening slides, we took the original XP Game and added more concepts to it. In this specific instance, we added experimentation and modern collaborations to the original gameplay. The following from  Alistair Cockburn resonated with us and we applied it to the XP Game.
AGILE IS AN ATTITUDE, NOT A TECHNIQUE WITH BOUNDARIES. AN ATTITUDE HAS NO BOUNDARIES.
~ALISTAIR COCKBURN
It was a great experience, with a great audience of course. We really enjoyed the talk. It was great to have people with experience or running this game prior being part of our talk. It was a true pleasure to learn all enjoyed the session, were engaged. We had people even were engaging with us after the session.
Figure 1 - Feedback from the session
This is one of the feedbacks that I am really excited about. It says "Carlos + Shahin are excellent presenters at one excellent game". Thanks! It really made my day. 

Figure 2 - One of the feedbacks
This is the abstract we shared with the audience and the conference:
Take part in Modern XP game, a new twist and refined version of "XP Game", to get a strong understanding of the principles and practices of "agile," and a robust toolbox. We incorporated feedback after many iterations of facilitating it to make it fun, exciting and thought-provoking for everyone.
Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters are change agents in their organizations. To be successful, they need a strong understanding of the principles and practices of "agile," and a robust toolbox to help teams onboard and move through their agile journey.
In this session, participants will experience a modern twist on the "XP Game" – a simulation for agile teams first outlined in Extreme Programming Explained (1999). Using the foundational principles of the original XP Game, Modern XP opens the simulation so participants, including non-technical leaders and team members, can gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of a high-performing team in a variety of frameworks and orientations, and what to expect (and measure) along the agile learning curve. Through hands-on learning, participants will learn how to build agile capabilities and some tangible tips on how to move through barriers and challenges along the agile learning curve.
After many iterations to many different groups, Shahin and Carlos have refined the exercise, ensuring its accessibility and use for experienced agilists and those new to the field alike. The activity not only provides a necessary educational frame, but participants are encouraged to draw from their experience, and implement the simulation (or elements of it) within their own training program, team lift-off or retrospective activity. 
You can use the following material for facilitating a session on Modern XP Game. Please take a look at the presentation below. It is both embedded from SlideShares and Google Slides.





The following are the pictures from the session:

Figure 3 - Pictures from the Modern XP Game session

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