Key Learnings in Agile and Scrum - La Fosse Associates
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Scrum Lego City & Playing Lean - Event Summary and Key Takeaways

10/03/2017 By Heidi Anderson

Heidi Anderson, head of the Digital Media Contracts Practice at La Fosse Associates, hosted a Scrum Lego City and Playing Lean learning event aimed at teaching C-Suite executives and their senior leadership teams about the benefits of implementing agile methodologies throughout a company.

Guests around a table at the Scrum Lego City & Playing Lean event

Attendees chose between two fast-paced, interactive games: Scrum Lego City, which focused on all aspects of achieving Scrum at Scale, and Playing Lean: how to implement Lean Start-up. The event not only highlighted the power of agile to effect positive change in a company - but also taught leaders how to teach agile in a fun, collaborative way.

With special thanks to Tony Grout for facilitating ‘Scrum Lego City’ along with fellow agile leaders Chris Matts & Andy Oliver, and to Adrian Hall for leading ‘Playing Lean’.

Guests listen to a presentation at the Scrum Lego City & Playing Lean event

Tony is one of the UK’s top agile leaders and speakers, and is currently Director of Agile & Digital Transformation at Lloyds Banking Group across 18,000 people.

Chris & Andy are both Enterprise Agile Coaches working with Tony, both with over a decade of experience in Agile transformation, cultural change and scaled Agile delivery.

Adrian Hall is founder of Agile Principles consultancy. He is an Agile & Lean leader & mentor with over 20 years’ experience; pioneering distributed scaled Agile with thetrainline.com & BT back before the rule books were written.

In a fast-paced and exciting environment, this is how the night played out:

Scrum Lego City

A table laid out ready for the Lego City to be built

Setting the scene:

Developed by Tony with a behavioural psychologist, this game involves constructing a Lego city collaboratively, and players experience the behaviours that underpin agile working.

Multiple Scrum teams are set up with a Scrum Master, a Product Owner and a Development Team to deliver different sections of a Lego city to the City Owner, complying with building regulations enforced by the Regulator. A centralised Foundation Team provides the building foundations within the regulations, while a lead Scrum Master oversees the proceedings and coordinates a daily meeting with each teams' Product Owner and Scrum Master to manage cross-team dependencies.

Finally, to really complicate the entire project, they are based in Portugal and can only be communicated with via email.

The outcome:

A series of simulated sprints, sprint reviews and a retrospective sees the game move into full swing with each Scrum team working together to deliver one shared goal – a fully functioning Lego City.

With the City Owner, the Regulator and the overall Scrum Master playing their roles to perfection, players witness the challenges of working towards one shared vision within the enterprise.

Key Learnings:

• Agile doesn’t fix problems, it highlights them:
 this means a scrum is not the solution, but a way of finding it.

• Get some retrospective: when timing is tight, the most common event to be abandoned is the retrospective, yet this is the most important event in the implementation of agile; without it the opportunity to fix the problems is lost.

• Preconceived ideas are the enemy: your own preconceived ideas create your constraints. It’s interesting to note that students are always the best players because they have no previous experience, therefore no preconceived ideas.

• Free yourself (of constraints): return to your business with this question - "What is the one constraint I could remove?" Don't rush to implement Scrum before you have resolved some of the basic constraints to agility, if your system isn’t ready, it will fail.

• Look Deep Inside: Take a hard look at your organisation and ask yourself: “Who are my foundation teams?" The teams constraining the flow of value are actually the teams controlling the pace and value your system delivers.

• Communication is key: no matter how much you assume is going on within any methodology, never take communication for granted. Talk, talk, and then talk some more.

• Listen to the system: It's all about feedback, feedback, feedback.

 

Playing Lean

An example of a Lego city on a projection screen

Setting the scene

Simulating a make-it-or-break-it situation, this board game guides players as they attempt to move from simply having an idea,to creating a winning product. All along the way, players are forced to make difficult choices, without risking their life savings or the future of their workplaces. Worst case scenario is suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of your peers.

The game is, as one attendee put it “seriously fun and engaging,” in true agile fashion.

The outcome


Each team began with different strategies in mind: some focused on product development, some on experimentation and some on business foundation and culture. As you can imagine, such a variety of approaches resulted in very different outcomes…

One team, the founders of Friendsta, got off to a speedy start but were timed out by the countdown clock from the founders of Twitbook for too much deliberating after becoming caught up in analysis paralysis.

Industrial espionage was narrowly avoided...but business ethics did appear optional at one stage.

Overall the missions went extremely well and the competitive, but collaborative nature of the teams were well harnessed.

Key Learnings:

• Entrepreneurs are everywhere: How to enable innovation within a business stifled by risk and process.

• Don't undervalue analytics: tracking and measuring is important across every aspect of business & lean methodology is no different

• How to plan your product launch: market fit, timing and competition

• Experimentation versus elaborate planning: The importance of the minimum viable product.

• Customer feedback and quick responsive development

• Being less wasteful: How can we learn more quickly what works, and discard what doesn't!

A guest sits at a table, building the Lego city

 

Feedback

“Really great event, and came away with a much better understanding of Lean start-up”

“Thoroughly enjoyed the game and learning experience. Don’t think I’ll be getting it out at the Christmas table though...”

"I am sure that I will forever associate Lego for its merits as an agile tool for the enterprise!"

“I will now be running all my training sessions with beer and sweets”

 

About us

Heidi Anderson

Heidi has over 10 years’ experience in recruitment and currently leads La Fosse’s Digital Media Contract Recruitment Team, working as both a manager and recruiter within the agile leadership space. She takes great pride in obtaining an in-depth understanding of her clients' business needs and candidates' aspirations, and hosts regular events to add value for the wider community she serves.

She is also the organiser of the LinkedIn Group "Agile Addicts", a community for those interested or working in the Agile leadership space.

If you are interested in improving your delivery capability & culture and would like to partner with La Fosse and Agile Principles, please contact Heidi at heidi.anderson@lafosse.com

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