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There comes a time when you get to work on something that really makes you proud. Zach Bonaker and I made something about two years ago that makes me proud. It is a workshop that examines how the surrounding environment drastically affects a team’s performance.
Why we made it
Zach and I were working in the same company as Agile Coaches. We were approached by a manager who wanted help re-teaming her teams. She was looking for help building team agreements and starting discussions of safety. Zach and I knew that for safety to exist within a team, the team needs to acknowledge the external factors that are affecting them. There is no magic “agile” that can be sprinkled over a team to help them perform better.
How we came up with the idea
We spent all our free time for a week brainstorming ideas. The problem was nothing felt right. Everything was either boring or not relevant. We were both tired of simulations that did not closely match the way people work in software. All too many simulations play a game that simplifies the environment to a point, that is easy to dismiss. We wanted something different. We wanted something that was both fun and resembled real work.
Then one day walking back to our desks from some other meeting we started talking about the problem of simulations. Working with real code, was too slow to make our point and every game we ever saw did not mimic work closely enough. We were on the verge of giving up and just doing some generic workshop that you can attend at any conference. It was during this discussion that we hit on the point of game creation.
Why Game Creation
Board and Card game creation share a lot with software development. Each are endeavors of creative problem solving; that the end product must be usable by some person. They both have specific goals they are trying to achieve and rules the creators must follow. Lastly both can be tested.
This was a perfect combination.
Not all People in Programming Enjoy Games
Now we know that there are many people out there who do not enjoy games and may be at a loss when running this simulation. So, we help those people. First, the activities are team, or working group, sports. We then do our best of ensuring that the board gamers are spread about the groups. Lastly, but not least, we give clear goals to what they are trying to achieve, such that prior experience with a game type is not necessary.
Lots of Opportunity to Debrief
A good simulation needs to be relatable and mostly teach something. The goal of our simulation is to examine how important the rules of the environment are to a team, and team cohesion. This is where our simulation shines. The nature of the work being done, the environments the work is being done in, and the environment the work is being delivered into all cause friction. But what is so amazing about this workshop is that each team’s friction is different yet relatable to everyone else. The combinatorics here create an endless wealth of learning.
The last thing about this workshop is it is open source. It can be found here, and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This means you can download it and run it. There are instructions on the website. You must give credit to the creators.
Call to Action
Look at the workshop, see if there is anything you can learn from it. Maybe run it and let me know if the instructions are helpful. If they are not, reach out and I will try to help you with it.