ScrumTale is built upon collaborative story writing concept to simulate iterative product development. It has been designed for IT companies, however it is gaining popularity among all sorts of companies that want to learn Agile ways of working.
What are the main factors that make a crime story the perfect product to be used in a Scrum simulation game? Firstly, there are multiple similarities between software development and collaborative story writing. Secondly, participants’ engagement during the exercise comes naturally and makes the learning more powerful.
In both cases it’s all about writing: the team needs to type on their keyboards. The way the product is created is very similar in terms of adding new text (coding), updating previously written parts (refactoring) or reviewing delivered pieces (code review). All of that you will find during ScrumTale session, and there is more…
This aspect was one of the biggest inspiration factors to create ScrumTale a few years ago. As human beings, we can instantly assess the quality of a story that we read and spot all the issues with wording, style, grammar or punctuation. Look at this snippet and see for yourself how easy it is:
“Nothing out of the ordinary in the fisherman’s hut, if there wasn’t a dead body hanging in the middle of the room. As detective Larson walked up closer to the body, she could examine what keeps the body in mid-air. A metal hook was sticking out of the chest of the body. A man hanging with a fisherman’s hook from the sealing is nothing she had seen before. She started inspecting the body from the toe to head. When her look reached the face of the victim it took a few seconds to recognize him. His face was distorted with pain and his mouth was stuffed with a big fish.”
The customer (game facilitator) and Product Owner will immediately spot issues and reject bits of the product that do not meet Acceptance Criteria or Definition of Done.
What you will experience during ScrumTale workshop is that the player’s emotions are authentic. When the exercise begins, people get emotionally attached to the product instantly. That makes all the difference! Everyone has an opinion about the characters and where to go with the story plots. Suddenly all the product related discussions become more lively and real: “Will this dialogue suit to our story?”, “Should Olivia react to this particular situation in this way?” are the kind of discussions you will witness on the team. You will also observe tension and clash of the Product Owner’s vision with the team’s perception. Product Owner will realise how difficult it is to lead the team to turn the vision into a real product. The team on the other hand, will understand how important it is to have a wider perspective about the product. Each player needs to think: “how will my piece fit to the story?”. They will be frustrated from time to time as their part gets rejected by the PO on Sprint Review meeting. Everyone will need to learn how to communicate so that the plots are coherent and story characters aligned with the product vision.
Once the teams introduce the improvements, the quality of the story sprint over sprint will be tremendous! It will again energize the team and motivate them for further optimizations.
The first challenge that the teams will come across is integration – just like with software development. Creating the story plots, describing the events and characters while organising it as a logical set of paragraphs is a challenging task. Especially when multiple people are working on it at the same time. That is why a common pattern is that after the first sprint, the teams are failing to do so: The paragraphs are unrelated to each other and are full of logical errors (bugs). Additionally, some parts of the story are well written, some not.
Important lesson is that continuous integration is costly and is a whole team’s effort.
Integrated product (story) requires every team member to follow a common standard. They need to agree on the style, humor, tense, indentation, etc. In the simulation there are two teams workingon separate tales, so it’s even harder to reach the goal to create an impression that the book series is written by a single author.
The fact that during a sprint demo the product is read out loud helps to achieve coherence of the product.
If you want to experience a simulation that captures the real challenges of software development, try ScrumTale. It offers a multi-dimensional experience where participants become a part of a real Agile team. It will be a demanding exercise to deliver a story collaboratively, under business and time pressure but very satisfying too. Come to one of our facilitation training (if you are still not convinced) or buy ScrumTale and write the next chapter of your Agile journey with us!
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