Optimus Prime: a Game to understand the relationship of Optimization, Prioritization, Throughput, Impediment removal, Metier, Utilization, and Sizing
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Optimus Prime: a Game to understand the relationship of Optimization, Prioritization, Throughput, Impediment removal, Metier, Utilization, and Sizing

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This is more advanced game based on my basic Agile game; it focuses on understanding the relationship between Optimization, Prioritization, Throughput, Impediment (removal), Metier (or......

This is more advanced game based on my basic Agile game; it focuses on understanding the relationship between Optimization, Prioritization, Throughput, Impediment (removal), Metier (or specialization), Utilization, and Sizing. It is the instructions for an experiential game to help people realize how the choices teams make can greatly affect their means to deliver. It applies lean concepts into iterative development.

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  • Questions to ask:
    What do story points mean? (look for common understanding through the ability to estimate and that it is relative in nature)
    How would you really go about deciding story points?
    Could a split story’s points be greater than the original story’s?
  • Facilitator Notes:
    The loss of a point is the context switching the person is doing; this occurs each time a person moves from one task to another.
    Remember: the average # of points that is calculated for a person to work per day is 5.4; this means that there are 28 (29 if the deck has the recommended 3 Jokers) below that (impediments mean no points work), while there are 26 above this value.
    After several iterations have occurred, it may be worth noting whether they are pairing on stories (more likely to complete them) and/or whether the story size is too large. If these are being noted… Ask the following questions:

    What could you do to help get work to done
  • Facilitator Notes:
    The loss of a point is the context switching the person is doing; this occurs each time a person moves from one task to another.
    Remember: the average # of points that is calculated for a person to work per day is 5.4; this means that there are 28 (29 if the deck has the recommended 3 Jokers) below that (impediments mean no points work), while there are 26 above this value.
    After several iterations have occurred, it may be worth noting whether they are pairing on stories (more likely to complete them) and/or whether the story size is too large. If these are being noted… Ask the following questions:

    What could you do to help get work to done

Transcript

  • 1. Simulating (OPTIMUS) Optimization, Prioritization, Throughput, Impediments, the Relationship between Métier, Utilization, and Sizing Optimus Prime aka
  • 2. Optimus Prime Goals: Understand how choices on what people work on and how these decisions impact a team’s delivery of stories (or tasks). Overview of the Game: Optimus Prime is a cooperative worker placement game where the team’s Iteration (Sprint) Board is the game board. The set-up simulates chartering and release planning where the team is selected and the number of stories and their overall story points are determined. Iterations (Sprints) are the turns of the game where the work to be completed during delivery is cooperatively selected during the Iteration (Sprint) Planning. It ends with an Iteration (Sprint) Review/Retrospective. Within the Iteration turns are daily rounds consisting of the team pulling work to be done and placing their workers (during daily stand-up) on the stories or impediments to be worked and then performing the work by pulling cards from the Productivity or Impediment Deck as appropriate.
  • 3. Optimus Prime Supplies (and what they represent): • Flipchart, Blue tape and stickies; some very small to record points, and some 3x5 sized • One set of pawns (chess pawns), one larger pawn (king or queen) to represent the product owner, and a pawn that represents a specialist (bishop, knight, or rook); these are the folk that do the work [different colored pawns also work] • A set of tokens in 3 different colors to indicate blocked work due to impediments; one color represents only work a product owner can resolve, one color represents only work a developer can resolve, and the last anyone • One additional token to keep track of the days we work in our iteration. • Two standard dice for determining story points, story points, and # of split stories
  • 4. Supplies, continued (and what they represent): • Three card decks (preferably with different designs) – One deck, the Story Deck, represents the stories to be worked in the release (suits are all that matter as they represent Epics or Features to be completed). We don’t need Jokers in this deck. – One deck represents work (in points) completed by workers; this is the Productivity Deck. It also controls when impediments show up. It I preferable that this deck be one with 3 Jokers, though 2 can suffice. The Jokers represent impediments only a product owner can resolve, Suicide Kings represent only impediments a developer can resolve, and Jacks represent impediments anyone can resolve. For the remainder, the value of the card is the # of points worked (1-10, Queens = 12, Kings = 13). Impediment cards (Jacks, jokers, and Suicide Kings) never remove points of work. – We’ll only use the Jokers, Kings, Queens, and Aces from the last deck as our impediment removal deck; place the rest aside; Jokers & Aces indicate the impediment is not removed, while a King or Queen remove the impediment; Aces from this deck = Epic/Feature priority
  • 5. Optimus Prime Chartering & Release Planning/Set-up: • Use the blue tape and stickies to mark out our release backlog, sprint backlog, in-work, and done columns as a work board • We’re going to start with a simulation of an un- or mis-prioritized backlog; – Create the story deck; for each suit, roll two dice and add one to the roll; the result is the # of cards to add to the story deck from that suit. This is done four times, once for each suit; count out the cards from Ace  King. – Shuffle the story deck and deal out into the release backlog face up • Determine the size of the development team, consult the following table after rolling two dice and then add one for the product owner: • Place our team (pawns) above the board; select someone to represent the product owner. Die Roll 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Dev Team Size 4 4 4 5 5 6 7 7 8 8 8
  • 6. Chartering & Release Planning/Set-up (continued): • Determine what the priority order of the Epics/Features for the release are; roll two dice and consult the following table: • Reroll repeats • Once 2 are selected, you only need one die • Suits = Epics/Features • Record this order with the Aces from the 3rd deck We’ll be setting due dates based on this order… Die Rolls 1-3 4-6 1-3 4-6 -- 1st Die -- --2ndDie--
  • 7. Release Planning/Set-up (continued): • The flipchart will be used to record our release burndown; we need to determine the # of points each story has; roll two dice for each story and consult the following table: • Record these on small stickies and place on each card • Sum the total and record this on your flip chart • The # of available work days for your project is calculated by the following formula: # work days = [Σ(story points) ÷ (team size x 5.4)] + 1d6 - 1 for a mgmt reserve 5.4 is mathematically the average of points each person can work per day • As a team, decide how long you want your iterations. Make a row of boxes on a sheet of paper for the # of days in your iteration and blacken one for your ceremonies # of iterations for your project = Round to nearest integer (# days ÷ iteration length) Record this as your horizontal axis on your chart and show a linear burn of story points per iteration (this is your initially planned burn). Die Roll 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Release Story Pt Value 3 5 5 8 8 13 13 13 21 21 34
  • 8. Release Planning/Set-up (continued): • Due dates for each suit are now set; the suits are due at iteration end in rising priority from last to first iteration. If the 1st suit is due first iteration end, place it in the second iteration and slide the 2nd and 3rd priorities back; making the 3rd and 4th both due in the last iteration. Examples: Suppose the order was and there are only four 3 week iterations; then the would be due at the end of the 2nd, the at the end of the 3rd, and the and at the end of the 4th iteration If there were six iterations 2 weeks in length, then the due dates would be the end of 3rd through 6th iteration in order • Use blue tape to hold the Ace cards below the iteration they due on the burn chart • Shuffle the work deck and shuffle the impediment removal deck; place work deck above the in-work column and the impediment removal deck below it You are now ready to start doing your iterations!
  • 9. Optimus Prime Iterations/Game Play: • Each Turn starts with the Iteration (Sprint) Planning Phase: – Select candidate stories to commit to for a sprint (hint: as a team develops a velocity, use this) – These go from the release backlog into the sprint backlog – To start with, we are going to assume the stories in the release backlog have been prioritized; in the first sprint or two, we are not goingto change this order within the Sprint – Decide if you want to split any of the stories or not. If you do, roll a die; divide the die roll by 3 rounded to the nearest integer (die roll result: 1=0, 2,3&4=1, and 5&6=2). Add +1 if you are splitting a 13 point story, +2 if the original story is a 21 point story, and +3 if the original story was 34 points. The result is the # of stories to add to the original story.
  • 10. • Continuing with the Iteration (Sprint) Planning Phase: – If you split a story, determine the new story points for each story using the following table: – You may further split a story that has already been split; subtract one from the size die roll if you do so – As a team, decide when to stop pulling stories and make a commitment for the Iteration (Sprint). Die Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Split Story Pt Value 1 2 3 3 3 5 5 5 8 8 8 13
  • 11. • Daily Round Phase: – Daily Stand-Up: the players now collectively review what they were able to accomplish the day prior, what they want to work on the next day (and place their pawns), and what impediments they want to remove (assigning pawns to it). – Once the stand-up is completed, it’s time to do work! Draw a card one by one from the productivity deck for each pawn assigned to a story to work, mark off the points the card shows from the story points on the stickyWhen an a Jack, Joker, or Suicide King is drawn, place an impediment marker on the card. No further work can be done on this story today; any workers on it lose their ability to play a Productivity card.  Suicide Kings indicate impediments that only a developer can resolve, Jokers are ones only the product owner can, and Jacks any worker may be assigned. – Workers assigned to an impediment will draw from the impediment removal deck; when a King or Queen is drawn, the impediment is removed. Aces and Jokers keep the impediment in place.
  • 12. • Some notes on the Daily Round Phase: – When a card is completed and there are points remaining, the worker may go work on another story, the remaining points minus one may worked off another story. If no stories are in the in-work column another story can be pulled from the Sprint backlog. If there are no stories in the Sprint Backlog, then no further work can be done. – If there happens to be two workers working an impediment and the first worker removes the impediment, the second worker can begin working on that story and draw a card from the Productivity deck, subtracting one point of what ever the value is that is drawn. The worker can also go work on a different card, but subtract two points from the card’s value (a negative number is treated as zero). – If either deck runs out of cards, take the discard pile and reshuffle it.
  • 13. • Iteration (Sprint) Review Phase: – Record the story points off of the completed cards. – Update your burn down chart based on this number. – Reshuffle the Impediment Removal discard back in to form a new deck regardless of whether it ran out or not. • Iteration (Sprint) Retrospective: – Discuss with your team mates if you need to rethink how you pull stories for commitment, whether you need to size them differently, or how you assign workers. – Your facilitator may make some observations or introduce new rules at this point. • Return to the Iteration Planning Phase.
  • 14. Optimus Prime Debrief Some Simulation Points • The randomness of the story points and splits of stories simulates that a team can’t control story complexity, though they estimate it. • What would happen if you pushed a team to change their estimates? Does it change the actual nature of the work complexity? • The Productivity values simulate good days and bad days. Every day is different. • Can you make a person perform better? • Impediments, can they take longer than a day to remove?
  • 15. Optimus Prime Debrief Some Simulation Points • Why did you you have to assign a worker to remove the impediment? • What does losing a point when moving from one card to another represent? • We started with a random order on the story cards representing poor prioritization; has this happened to anyone? • The team size was established randomly; can you control how small or large teams are? • What becomes a problem when a team becomes too large? • The Epics (Suits) had a set order; what would it mean if these were Projects?
  • 16. Optimus Prime Debrief What choices did you make during release planning? Iteration planning? How did these effect your ability to deliver? Did you discover anything about story sizing that caused your team of workers problems? Did you discover anything about assigning workers that either helped or hindered your team of workers? What other things did you notice?