The object of the game is to provide insight into the consequences of organizing in component- or end to end feature teams.
Total duration: 15-30 minutes
Playtime: a few minutes
Reflection: about 15 minutes
Requirements (on the basis of 6 players)*:
- A Duplo floor plate
- 36 Duplo bricks (size 2×2) in six different colors
- Something to keep time
- A flip-over or whiteboard and a marker to write down production times
- 2 pictures of different Duplo structures (such as the ones below)
*it is practical to match the amount of colors to the amount of players. I would recommend a minimum of 5 players. Should you have more than 10 players, I would recommend to let them play against each other in groups.
Tell the players the object of the game is to build the Duplo structure you will show them on a picture as quickly as possible. The structure consists of six stacks of Duplo bricks that all contain bricks of every color (see picture below). Each player can only touch his/her own bricks.
Explain to the group that each player is analogous to a team in an organization. The different colored bricks represent the people (i.e. skills, capacities, etc.) needed to build a product. Time stops when the entire structure has been correctly completed and all the towers are in the right place on the underfloor.
The game consists of two rounds. Before every round the the group has one minute to discuss how they will build the structure. Exchanging Duplo bricks is not allowed.
Playing the game
Round 1: component teams
- Divide the Duplo bricks over the players. Each player receives 6 bricks, all the same color.
- Show the group a photo of the desired structure (such as the one below). Give the team one minute to discuss how they would like to build it. No building is allowed yet.
- Build! Time how long it takes the group to build the structure correctly. Write down the time it took the team.
An example Duplo structure for round one. Keep it simple, but make sure every stack uses all colors. Positioning also matters!
Round 2: End-to-end (feature) teams
- Divide the Duplo bricks over the players. Each player receives 6 bricks, one of each color.
- Show the group a photo of the desired structure. Give the team one minute to discuss how they would like to build it. No building is allowed yet.
- Build! Time how long it takes the group to build the structure correctly. Write down the time it took the team to build the structure.
An example Duplo structure for round two.
Discuss the game and results with the group. Ask them to share their own findings and observations before also sharing your reflections as an Agile Coach/Scrum Master/Facilitator.
Questions worth asking:
- What caused the difference in production time?
- Which dependencies do you see in either situation?
- How much coordination between teams (players) is required in each situation?
- What does that mean for the role of managers in both situations?
- What would happen in both situations if you would disrupt a single teams production? (take away one player’s bricks)
- How would you approach this assignment if you would build the product with only a single team? (one player)
Interesting subjects to discuss relating to this mini-game:
- Independent path to production
- The merits of feature teams compared to component teams
- Building a ‘scale free’ team of teams
- Ease of coordination
- Impediments to a single team hit a team of component teams much harder than a team of end-to-end feature teams
- End-to-end feature teams are more independent and require less coordination among them than component teams
Have fun playing! And should you have any feedback to help improve the game, let me know.