Friday, June 21, 2013

Stories, poker, and funny money

Have you ever noticed that, along with big visible charts and frequent communications, agile teams tend to HAVE FUN?

Playfulness and creativity go hand in hand with productivity and motivation. So of course there are lots of activities within the agile world that aren’t boring, run-of-the-mill meetings and stodgy workdays. 

User stories – We’re all pretty familiar with the concept of user stories. But maybe the next time the product owner is introducing a new set of stories to the team, call the meeting “story time” and serve cookies and milk.

Planning poker – How many of you get to say that you play poker at work?! Okay, so it’s planning poker, used to estimate level of effort on deliverables, but still… I think planning meetings are more light-hearted simply because of the cards (physical or electronic).

Team and other names – I’ve been on teams named The Simpsons and NCC-1701-D. I’ve worked with teams named after cars. I’ve used colors, Simpsons character names, and extinct or near extinct animals for iteration names (who can talk about the Dodo iteration without breaking into a grin?!). And while second or third attempts to release the same code may not be fun, I can now kind of laugh about release 56.5. Then there’s the Platypus project…
Buy-a-Feature – Product owners can even enjoy the fun! The next time your team of product owners and/or stakeholders can’t agree which deliverable takes priority, have them play “buy a feature” with funny money – either monopoly cash or scrip you create on your computer with pictures or the CEO, CIO, and CFO in place of presidents. More information is available on Innovation Games.

Food – Sweets and fun just seem to go together. And while I know it’s important to watch caloric intake, red vines, cookies, and mini-chocolate bars will add a certain amount of levity to any gathering.  A big bunch of grapes or cuties (those little, easy-to-peel oranges) are also great options.  

How else do you have fun at work? What brings levity and helps creativity flow?

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