Goldilocks, Agile & the Three Bears

BearMy web team are used to getting some crazy requests for resolution, but this one was weirder than the average digital project we work on.

Eager to take a collaborative and effective approach to managing digital content development, we are in the throes of introducing Agile methodology. We kicked this off with a workshop that saw us creating a comic book of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This fun exercise is based on Mark Levison’s Learning Scrum Through Games.

The exercise is a fabulous way for a team to experience Scrum ceremonies, practices and roles, from the ground up. I acted as Product Owner and provided the team with the following unprioritised backlog:

  1. As a parent I can be excited by the book cover, so that I will open the book and read it to my child.
  2. As a child I can see colourful pictures of the characters, so that I can understand the story without having to read it.
  3. As a child I can count the characters and items, so that I can develop my counting skills.
  4. As a sponsor I can showcase my advertisement for home security so that parents will contact me for my services.
  5. As a parent I can get appropriate content for my 4-6 year old child so that they are able to understand it.
  6. As a sponsor I can see my public service announcement about being kind to animals, so that the next generation will improve on our generation.

The team were given the following schedule for a two day sprint. They needed to complete the comic book in two sprints:

5 mins         Sprint Planning (decide how much to do)
10 mins       Sprint Day 1 – Standup (what did you do, what you will do, obstacles)
10 mins       Sprint Day 2 – Standup (what did you do, what you will do, obstacles)
5 mins         Sprint Review (show the work)
5 mins         Sprint Retrospective (what went well, what to improve, what’s still puzzling?)

After the team ran through the first sprint, as Product Owner, I explained that there was another story that I desperately needed to add to the backlog: As a child, I want to see a page in the book that shows what the bears were doing while they were out, so that I can once and for all know what they were up to when they left their house unattended and unlocked that morning!

The exercise was fantastic fun and the learning outcomes were similar to those that Mark Levison reported:

  • Utillise the Product Owner – The team forgot to ask the Product Owner questions, but after the first retro they corrected this. This lead to some great discussion of Acceptance Criteria and Walkthroughs.
  • Chaos reigned – We learnt that the forming stage of a team, can be pretty chaotic, but that it’s possible to still develop product
  • Working software is the only measure of progress – The team didn’t get through all stories in the backlog. Even when a late breaking story entered after sprint 1, they still didn’t ask what might have to come out of the backlog. What they did do really well though, was prioritise which items in the backlog would add value. This lead to a great discussion about Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
  • Roles within the team – The Scrum Master did a good job of checking in with the team if they had any obstacles. We also discussed how to best utilise a team with a variety of skills. I even saw some informal pairing happening!

Most importantly, the team learnt that Agile values satisfying the customer though early and continuous development.

I’d love to hear other Agilists experience at having a go at this exercise, or getting a team up and running. My team were really fired up from the activity, and the very next day we put it into action with our actual backlog.

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