Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Escape an agile Backlog Management Game

Weekend Escape is an agile backlog management game where small teams collaborate to order a backlog with a specific business goal in mind. Once the team has produced their backlog, they review the output of another team and discuss the differences. Everyone participates and discussion plays a key part in the game. Participant’s eyes are often opened to the complexity of backlog prioritisation. The game has been designed for all staff, not just Product Owners. The Extended Version of the game ramps up the challenge. It is aimed at Product Owners, yet suitable for anyone with a little more time to spare.

Weekend Escape a backlog management game

Learning objectives

  • Experience the challenges of prioritising and ordering a backlog.
  • Understand how an agile team can help their Product Owner by making the backlog items easier to compare.
  • Extended Version: Experience how business goals impact the approach to prioritisation


  • People: 6 to 20. People will be split into an even number of teams of 3 to 5 people. 
  • Time for Standard version: ~30 minutes.
  • Time for Extended version: ~75 to 90 minutes.
  • Requires roughly 1m to 1.5m of table space per team.

The detailed instructions are available in PDF.

One example of a completed backlog, Weekend Escape, Backlog Management Game
One example of a completed backlog

I am interested to hear any feedback about the game, especially from those that have tried it out. So please leave your comments below...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lack of empowerment is making your project late

Projects become late one day at a time because small impediments occur and front line workers are not empowered to resolve those impediments on the spot. Those small impediments turn into day long or longer delays. Once that day is lost to delay it is near impossible to get it back. To reduce this we need to empower front line workers to immediately solve impediments and to exploit opportunities that present themselves. 

Opportunities are the flip side of impediments; each day our front line workers experience impediments and opportunities. It is how they approach those situations that determine the outcome of our project. On a daily basis opportunities to improve quality, deliver faster, boost morale and drive innovation arise. Is your team ready to take advantage of them? 

Waiting for input to solve an impediment increases the impact of that impediment and often increases the effort needed to resolve it. Waiting for input to take advantage of an opportunity diminishes the value of the opportunity and again can increase the effort needed to implement it. 

Our front line workers need the authority, information, tools and support to make empowered decisions quickly.

Examples of impediments leading to day long delays

  • Scrum Master waits for his Line Manager to approve the purchase a $30 license for a communication tool that allows the team to more easily work at home; instead of purchasing it out of his own money KNOWING that his Line Manager will support the decision, and pay the expense claim.
  • A Product Owner waits until the end of the Sprint before contacting another team to make a small change in their component because the process demands it.
  • An experienced team member feels that he must wait for the Tech Lead to return from the training course his is on before he can implement a framework change.
  • Anytime, anyone waits for test results overnight.

Link to Lean
All successful lean implementations incorporate an extremely strong idea generation and execution process that involves everyone. This empowers all staff and makes fast decision making an everyday occurrence. This is a prime example of empowering staff to drive success. For further reading: The Role of Front-Line Ideas in Lean Performance Improvement

Don't let your project become late one day at a time! Empower your people; so that they own and drive project success

Photo Credit: damn_unique