Skip to main content

3 Player Ball Point Game

The Ball Point Game (or Tennis Ball Factory, as I like to call it) is one of the most popular games for learning Scrum. This game encapsulates the essence of Scrum like no other: Team-Work, Planning, Retrospectives, Estimating. Continuous Improvement. Everything. But as defined by Boris Gloger, you need 5 people to play. Teaching to a small class, I needed a version which would work with three people. I almost gave up, until I realized that most people have two hands.

The rules of the ball point game are simple: To score a point, everyone in the group must touch the ball once. The ball must have "air time" when the ball is not touching any player. No one may pass the ball to their immediate neighbor. The objective is to score as many points as possible in 2 minutes. The team gets several attempts to improve their score, with a retrospective between each attempt.

If the team is 4 people or less, these rules don't work. The immediate neighbor rule can't be satisfied with 3 people and with 4 people, that rule produces two closed loops.

I modified the game as follows:
  1. The restriction on passes to your neighbor was removed
  2. Each player must touch the ball twice, once with the left hand, once with the right.
  3. A player may not pass the ball to himself
  4. The rest is unchanged.
I tried it out at a Practical Product Owner Training last week,  and it worked just fine. As usual, the team moved closer together between the first and second attempt. The team improved it's performance dramatically from the first to the fourth attempt. Using the left hand was a challenge, but not insurmountable (lost balls were a topic in the retrospective). An important fun factor for the Scrum Training was preserved, even in the small group.

How did it work: Here is the team in action on their final attempt:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Explaining Story Points to Management

During the February Scrum Breakfast in Zurich, the question arised, "How do I explain Story Points to Management?" A good question, and in all honesty, developers can be an even more critical audience than managers.

Traditional estimates attempt to answer the question, "how long will it take to develop X?" I could ask you a similar question, "How long does it take to get the nearest train station?

The answer, measured in time, depends on two things, the distance and the speed. Depending on whether I plan to go by car, by foot, by bicycle or (my personal favorite for short distances) trottinette, the answer can vary dramatically. So it is with software development. The productivity of a developer can vary dramatically, both as a function of innate ability and whether the task at hand plays to his strong points, so the time to produce a piece of software can vary dramatically. But the complexity of the problem doesn't depend on the person solving it, just …