Improving the Quality of Agile Meetings
V. Lee Henson CST
Improving the Quality of Agile Meetings
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✤ Founded in 2007 - Salt Lake City, UT
✤ Specialize in Public & Private Certiﬁcation Workshops
✤ Deep understanding of Agile & Traditional Project
Management, (PMP), RUP, Lean, Kanban, Scrum, (CST),
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✤ Proven Applied Agile Principles in Software, Hardware,
Financial, Insurance, Construction, Medical,
Marketing, Legal, Entertainment, Research, Military,
Government, Retail, Education, Law Enforcement, and
V. Lee Henson CST
✤ Certiﬁed Scrum Trainer
✤ Project Management Professional
✤ PMI- Agile Certiﬁed Practitioner
✤ Certiﬁed Lean Agile Professional
✤ Motivational Speaker & Executive
✤ Author of The Deﬁnitive Agile
✤ Inventor of Rapid Release Planning
✤ Information Technology / Psychology
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What Are We Trying To Solve?
The 3 most common downfalls
of meetings are:
The meeting has no purpose
or planned Agenda
The incorrect participants are
invited or not invited
The meeting goes exactly as
planned, without positive
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The Agile Manifesto
We are uncovering better ways of developing software
by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals & Interactions over processes & tools
Working software over comprehensive
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is , while there is value in the items on the right,
we value the items on the left more.
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Agile vs. Plan Driven
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Scrum vs. Waterfall
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The Why Behind the What:
• Teams struggle when they
have a Vision with no strategy
to get there
• Meetings can quickly dissolve
when the right parties are not
engaged and attend with a
• Once the vision and strategy
are clear, the needed
meetings fall into place
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Forming - Storming
• Forming represents
building of the team
• The Forming Stage is
Important as team
members get to know each
other and gel
• Storming occurs when the
team addresses how they
will function both
independently and as a
• Storming may be painful,
but is necessary for the
team to be successful
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Norming - Performing
• Norming happens when
teams adjust their
behaviors and begin to
work together as a
• Motivation increases
across the team as a result
• Not all teams reach the
• At this point teams are
able to handle both
conﬂict and decision
making without direct
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Get a Tool Kit!
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• Every Agile meeting should have a
purpose and goal
• Prior to holding a meeting, all key
participants should be invited
• The agenda for the meeting should
be distributed prior to the meeting
• The meeting goal & agenda should
be distributed prior to the meeting
• All resources should be reserved
and prepared for the meeting
• The meeting facilitation toolkit
should be well stocked and ready
• The team should establish and post
effective meeting rules
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Meeting Rules Continued
• The meeting goal and objective should be presented
• The time-boxed agenda should be presented
• The rules should be posted and all should be reminded
to take heed
• If at any time a discussion begins that is not part of the
agenda, the topic should be added to a running list for
• If the meeting ends and the goal has not been reached,
arrange for a subsequent meeting at a later time (do not
go over time in hopes of solving an issue)
• Once conclusive results have been reached, record all
risks, assumptions, and action items
• Insure that all list items have a party responsible to
address each topic outside of this meeting
• Post the results in a visible place for all to see
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Fist To Five
• Team makes decisions, ScrumMaster only
guides the decision process
• A ScrumMaster seeks consensus within the
team, a quick way to do this Consensus = “I
can live with and support that.”
• Fist to ﬁve:
• 5 = wild, unbridled support
• 4 = this is a ﬁne idea, wish I’d thought of it
• 3 = I can live with and support it
• 2 = I have reservations I’d like to think
• 1 = I am very opposed; we shouldn’t move
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Fist To Five
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What About Business Priority?
✤ We all know the business has a
3 point ranking scale for priority
of backlog items: High, Really
High, or Really Really High.
✤ The business needs to use tools
to help them understand that
not everything can be of the
✤ With the understanding that we
Two websites to assist with priority: would not be doing the work if it
http://dotmocracy.org were not important, which items
http://www.innovationgames.com have the greatest urgency? Can
we arrange them into High,
Medium, and Low categories?
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Time vs. Relative Complexity
✤ Let’s paint the room!
✤ How many hours will it take?
✤ Why all of the different answers?
✤ Have any of you painted before?
✤ Compared to something else
you have painted, would it be
easier to determine how difficult
it would be to paint the room?
✤ Is it easier to reach consensus?
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Planning Poker - Does It Work?
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Let’s Use a T-Shirt Size...
✤ Smaller Than XS = a Task.
✤ Extra Small = 1
✤ Small = 2
✤ Medium = 3
✤ Large = 5
✤ Extra Large = 8
✤ Larger than XL = an Epic
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✤ MoSCoW = more than a Russian Capital
✤ Must Have
✤ Should Have
✤ Could Have
✤ Would Like
✤ Every iteration should have a mix of
the above types of items.
✤ Stake holders LOVE the Would Likes.
✤ The Product Owner drives the product
backlog and creates the rank order
based heavily on the MoSCoW ratings.
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Create Five Stories
✤ Think about what you have learned about user
stories Take a few moments to create ﬁve Story
Cards that look like the ones we have created so
✤ 1) Make 5 cards each with a title & description.
(Bonus points for using roles & personas in the
✤ 2) Take the 5 cards and give them each a priority.
(Remember, this is from the business perspective.)
✤ 3) Take the 5 cards and give them each a MoSCoW
rating. (Remember, this is from the customer
✤ 4) Next, take the 5 cards and give them a T-Shirt
size based on relative complexity & scope.
✤ 5) Finally, take the 5 cards and place them in stack
rank order. Be certain to take all 3 corners into
consideration when placing them in order.
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✤ Here is the formula for correct placement of stack
rank order of your backlog items. Address risk by
performing the items with the highest complexity Must Have High Priority
earlier working towards the lower complexity items
later in the process:
Would Like H-M-L
✤ 1) All Must Have High Priority items should be
considered ﬁrst and foremost. Must Have Medium
✤ 2) Be certain to get at least one Would Like in every
sprint. Next should be one Would Like High Priority Must Have Low Priority
✤ 3) Next should be the Must Have Mediums and Must
Should Have H-M-L
Could Have H-M-L
✤ 4) The Should’s go next from High to Low Priority.
✤ 5) Finally, place the Could’s from Highest to Lowest All states are stack ranked from highest
Priority. to lowest risk unless the velocity of the
Sprint does not afford this as an option.
Team velocity always prevails.
✤ Note: Dependencies trump priority & moscow rating.
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Rapid Release Planning Checklist
• Product Vision Statement
• Product Roadmap
• Release Themes
• Release Timeline
• Important Dates in Release
• Team Identiﬁcation
• Prioritized Product or Release Backlog
• Team Velocity (or capacity)
• Technical ‘gotchas’ and dependencies that we
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Release vs. Sprint Planning
Release Planning Iteration Planning
Attendees Team, SMEs and Team, SMEs and
product owner product owner
required. Managers/ required. Managers/
customers optional. customers optional.
Lowest level of work User stories Tasks
Estimates Provided in Points, t-shirt sizes, or Hours
Output of meeting Release plan (= high Iteration plan (=
level plan for multiple detailed plan of tasks
iterations) for one iteration)
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Rapid Release Planning Instructions:
1) Print out all of the story cards you hope to be included in the release leaving
off the product owner t-shirt size. (After all, we would not want to inﬂuence the
2) Place all of the cards in a large box, bucket, or basket.
3) Invite all of the teams participating in the release to be part of the rapid
release planning session to gather around a large table.
4) Explain that in a moment you will be dumping out all of the cards. The team
will have a preset amount of time to ﬁnd a card they all agree is small in scope.
5) Once the team has identiﬁed a small benchmark item, explain they will have a
preset amount of time to place all of the remaining cards in columns on the wall
listed as small, medium, and large relative to the ﬁrst item and to each other.
6) If a team member picks up a card they are uncertain about, have them return
the card to the table for other team members to review.
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Rapid Release Planning Instructions:
7) If an item is smaller than small, make a column for extra small. If the item is
larger than large make a column for extra large.
8) If an item is placed in the wrong column on the wall, feel free to move it. Any
card can move except for the initial small benchmark item.
9) For the ﬁnal few seconds, I command silence and have the team carefully
study as many items on the wall as they can in an effort to allow for any ﬁnal
adjustments to be made.
10) Once the time expires, I excuse the team for an extended lunch and ask the
product owners to stick around for a while so we can do a quick comparison.
11) Any items with no disparity or with only one column of difference in either
direction between the product owner and the team is a good enough estimate.
The team will get better at estimating as they go and product owner will have a
lot fewer items for additional review. The teams estimate in this case is the
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Rapid Release Planning Instructions:
12) If there is more than one degree of separation in the t-shirt size between the
product owner and the team, this warrants additional discussion regarding that
item. In most cases this limits the number of items requiring additional
conversation to a much smaller number.
13) Outliers are marked with moth the team size and the PO size and placed in a
separate column for additional discussion.
14) When the team returns, we talk about the outliers for a time-boxed period of
ﬁve minutes each in an attempt to clarify scope.
15) The teams estimate stands and we move quickly through the items.
16) Before we exit the room, the team takes a sheet of round stickies and identiﬁes
any backlog items in the release that have an internal or external dependency.
17) Based on the teams projected velocity, the product owner places items into
future sprints to identify any items that could be considered at risk of not making
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The Sliding Scale
✤ The amount of time allowed for each step in the Rapid
Release Planning Process varies based on the number of
items you are trying to plan for, the number of people, # Of Items # Of People
and whether teams are remote or collocated. The scale at
right should be used as a guide and can be adjusted
according to what works best for you. Please remember: 0-99 (5) 1 Team (+0)
✤ 1) The times are intentionally FAST! This is to perfect
reaching a true grit gut decision instead of pondering. 100-199 (10) 2 Teams (+5)
✤ 2) Every team member may not get to see every card. This
is PERFECTLY ﬁne. They need to trust in the ability of the 200-299 (15) 3 Teams (+10)
team member that did see the card.
✤ 3) Movement of cards throughout the exercise is both 300-399 (20) 4 Teams (+15)
normal and expected.
✤ 4) Limit the number of people participating to no more
400-499 (25) 5 Teams (+20)
than 50 People.
500 (30) 6 Teams (+25)
✤ 5) Video Record your teams executing this and send it
directly to me or upload via YouTube for a chance to win
cool prizes! Times in Parentheses should be added
together to calculate the TOTAL team
✤ Note: Remote teams should add 50% to the times listed. time needed for the RRP
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At The Wall...
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Sprint Planning - Six Steps
✤ 1) Schedule items into a sprint making certain not to exceed the teams
projected velocity. (If you did Rapid Release Planning, this step is done)
✤ 2) Review Team member capacity to ensure that people will not be over
✤ 3) Detail Planning - Breakdown the work into tests and tasks. (No
estimating or signing up for the work should take place during this step.)
✤ 4) Member Planning - Allow team members to sign up for the work they
choose and give an estimate in hours as to how long each task will take to
✤ 5) Review open issues and impediments that may put any item in the sprint
at risk. Replace items as needed with approval from the product owner.
✤ 6) COMMIT to the sprint as a team! (Let’s do this!)
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Meeting Timeline Guide:
✤ Scrum Meetings should be
time-boxed according to the
number of weeks in the
✤ For example: If you are
doing two week sprints, the
sprint planning meeting
should last no longer than
two hours. Three weeks =
three hours. Etc.
✤ The same holds true for end
of sprint meetings.
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The Daily Standup Rules:
✤ Daily 15 minute or less ✤ Do not be late...
✤ Fines go to a reputable charity
✤ Same time same place
everyday ✤ Team stands in a circle
✤ No problem solving ✤ Chickens around the outside
✤ * No Electronics of any kind ✤ Chickens follow the same rules
✤ No pen and paper to record ✤ Stick to the three questions
✤ Team rules posted on the wall ✤ Always end on time
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Hold a Daily Standup
✤ Many teams regard the daily standup as a less than
desirable meeting. These teams have not fully embraced
what the standup is intended to do. Today we will hold a
✤ 1) Eight volunteers will participate in this meeting. Imagine
you are a team member developing an e-commerce
✤ 2) Take a moment to decide what you have been working on
and how you will answer the following 3 questions:
✤ What have you worked on since we last met?
✤ What will you be working on until we meet again?
✤ Are there any obstacles preventing you from making
forward progress that you cannot solve yourself?
✤ 3) The ScrumMaster will facilitate, not drive the meeting.
✤ 4) We will try hard to give a solid report in record time.
✤ 5) At the conclusion, we will review and discuss
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Review & Demo
• Delivered features
• Incomplete features
• Verifying ‘Done’ with the customer/
• Maintaining trust with customer by not
“hiding” undone work
• Team and Customer responds to the
• The Goal: Collaborative Decision-
Making about the emerging product
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• Project retrospectives help teams examine what went
right and what went wrong on a project
• Retrospectives are designed to:
• Find & ﬁx problems
• Find and Reinforce team strengths
• Address both people & technical issues
• Use tools and practices proven in the real world
• The retrospective is the perfect chance to inspect and
• Teams who perform meaningful retrospectives are
consistently better at completing work on time and
• Ask the 3 questions and record ﬁndings
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Sample Retrospective Agenda
✤ What were the major events in our timeline?
✤ What can we observe about the ﬂow of events?
✤ What were the sprint metrics like?
✤ What have we learned about the product as a result of the sprint?
✤ What have we learned about the team as a result of the sprint?
✤ What worked well in our sprint that we would want to do again?
✤ What do we wish we had done differently?
✤ What recommendations are there moving forward with our next sprint?
✤ Inspect the process not the people.
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• These interactive techniques let your customers
and prospects help you create the products they
want. Understand customer needs, identify
product functionality, learn how customers
interact with your products, and shape your
• Luke Hohmann has devoted his professional
career to creating environments where everyone
can work to their fullest creative and intellectual
abilities. He is a committed coach, working with
every individual and the organization as a whole
to achieve greater levels of performance
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✤ You now hold the keys to success!
✤ You have been educated and empowered.
✤ Visit often and drink from the well!
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Lee@AgileDad.Com- Twitter @AgileDad - LinkedIn firstname.lastname@example.org
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If you find that you are beat up at meetings, you are in the right place. The fact is many Agile teams struggle with why meetings are needed or if they indeed provide value. I am here today to tell you that MOST Agile meetings provide little or no value to the team or key stakeholders because of the manner in which they are approached and conducted. This session will help you identify why the meetings are important and what we can do to make them most effective. \n
Principles behind the Agile Manifesto\nWe follow these principles: \n\nOur highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. \nWelcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. \nDeliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. \nBusiness people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. \nThe most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation. \nWorking software is the primary measure of progress. \nAgile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. \nContinuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. \nSimplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential. \nThe best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. \nAt regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. \n
Nobody likes to be asked to do something because &#x2018;the book&#x2019; says we should do it. In fact, this is the ultimate turnoff! Teams need to be motivated to know the why behind the what and have some idea of the value add that the meeting provides. \n
Forming:\n\nIn the first stages of team building, the forming of the team takes place. The team meets and learns about the opportunity and challenges, and then agrees on goals and begins to tackle the tasks. Team members tend to behave quite independently. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves. Mature team members begin to model appropriate behavior even at this early phase. Sharing the knowledge of the concept of "Teams - Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing" is extremely helpful to the team.\nSupervisors of the team tend to need to be directive during this phase.\nThe forming stage of any team is important because in this stage the members of the team get to know one another and make new friends. This is also a good opportunity to see how each member of the team works as an individual and how they respond to pressure.\n\nStorming: \n\nEvery group will then enter the storming stage in which different ideas compete for consideration. The team addresses issues such as what problems they are really supposed to solve, how they will function independently and together and what leadership model they will accept. Team members open up to each other and confront each other's ideas and perspectives. In some cases storming can be resolved quickly. In others, the team never leaves this stage. The maturity of some team members usually determines whether the team will ever move out of this stage. Some team members will focus on minutiae to evade real issues.\n\nThe storming stage is necessary to the growth of the team. It can be contentious, unpleasant and even painful to members of the team who are averse to conflict. Tolerance of each team member and their differences needs to be emphasized. Without tolerance and patience the team will fail. This phase can become destructive to the team and will lower motivation if allowed to get out of control.\nSupervisors of the team during this phase may be more accessible but tend to still need to be directive in their guidance of decision-making and professional behavior. The groups will therefore resolve their differences and group members will be able to participate with one another more comfortably and they won't feel that they are being judged in any way and will therefore share their own opinions and views.\n
Norming: \n\nAt some point, the team may enter the norming stage. Team members adjust their behavior to each other as they develop work habits that make teamwork seem more natural and fluid. Team members often work through this stage by agreeing on rules, values, professional behavior, shared methods, working tools and even taboos. During this phase, team members begin to trust each other. Motivation increases as the team gets more acquainted with the project.\nTeams in this phase may lose their creativity if the norming behaviors become too strong and begin to stifle healthy dissent and the team begins to exhibit groupthink.\n\nSupervisors of the team during this phase tend to be participative more than in the earlier stages. The team members can be expected to take more responsibility for making decisions and for their professional behavior.\n\nPerforming: \n\nSome teams will reach the performing stage. These high-performing teams are able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision. Team members have become interdependent. By this time they are motivated and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team.\n\nSupervisors of the team during this phase are almost always participative. The team will make most of the necessary decisions. Even the most high-performing teams will revert to earlier stages in certain circumstances. Many long-standing teams will go through these cycles many times as they react to changing circumstances. For example, a change in leadership may cause the team to revert to storming as the new people challenge the existing norms and dynamics of the team.\n
The meeting facilitation toolkit should include: \n \n Whiteboard & Markers\n Pens\n Index Cards\n Sticky Notes\n Agile Planning Poker Cards\n Toy or Widget to be held by the only person speaking\n Timer or Stopwatch\n List of Meeting Rules which should be posted\n Team Defined definition of Done (which also should be posted)\n Painters or masking tape\n Bell or Chime to alert when time is up on a topic\n
All agile meetings should follow a set of rules or guidelines used to facilitate and keep the meeting on topic and on time. Below you will find a helpful list of items that will help you be prepared for a meeting and moderate it in an agile fashion. \nBe Prepared: \nEvery agile meeting should have a purpose and goal\nPrior to holding a meeting, make certain all of the key participants are invited\nThe agenda for the meeting should be well defined and published at least 24 hours in advance\nThe meeting goal and agenda should be sent to each attendee prior to the meeting\nAll resources should be reserved and prepared for the meeting\n\n Do you have the room scheduled? \n Do you have a projector in the room selected? \n Will you have at least one participant with a laptop to project the backlog and record issues, actions, and assumptions? \n Is your meeting facilitation toolkit ready? \n
Only one person should speak at a time during the core focus of the meeting unless time is set aside for group collaboration on a specific topic. \nMeetings should follow a specific time-boxed flow. Below I will provide a sample standard meeting workflow:\nThe meeting goal and objective should be presented\nThe time-boxed agenda should be presented\nThe rules should be posted and all should be reminded to take heed\nIf at any time a discussion begins that is not part of the agenda, the topic should be added to a running list for later discussion\nIf the meeting ends and the goal has not been reached, arrange for a subsequent meeting at a later time (do not go over time in hopes of solving an issue)\nOnce conclusive results have been reached, record all risks, assumptions, and action items \nInsure that all list items have a party responsible to address each topic outside of this meeting\nPost the results in a visible place for all to see\nTake the time to allow the team to formulate meeting rules and make certain all meeting participants are clear on what the rules consist of and who is responsible for enforcement. Remember, if it is not written, it is not a rule. \n
Are you looking at me? This is where the real finger pointing begins. The fact is we need to assess the level of management oversight vs. the level of helpful management. This follows the Servant-Leader Principle. It is far easier for managers in these roles to stick to removing impediments and steering clear of the everyday nature of the work the team does. \n\nLikewise, a good Product Owner / Manager can learn to stay focused on the customers needs and the direction the product takes to get there. The Project Manager should be focused on the success of the team and should really work to gain the team&#x2019;s trust. This role should serve more as a consultant and mentor. The greatest fall any manager level position could take is to dive too deeply into roles outside of their own. \n\nThe fact is effective managers manage from the outside in. Worry about the bare minimum that you need to in order to insure the project&#x2019;s success. Focus on removing impediments and providing the team the tools they need to be successful. In return you will receive the greatest level of visibility into the project. \n
There are at least 12 unique innovation games (and any number of new games derived by combining elements of these 12 games).\n20/20 Vision: Several potential product features appear on a shuffled set of note cards, one feature per card. The facilitator tapes the first card face-out onto the wall and displays each of the remaining cards one at a time to the participants, asking if the feature on the card is more or less important than the feature on the wall. No two features are allowed to be of equal importance. \nBuy a Feature: Participants see a list of proposed product features and a cost (expressed as development effort or street-level pricing) associated with each. Each participant &#x201C;buys&#x201D; a desirable feature; participants may also pool resources to buy features too expensive to be purchased with individual funds. \nGive Them a Hot Tub: Several potential product features appear on a shuffled set of note cards, one feature per card. Some of the proposed features are completely outrageous, such as a &#x201C;crush rocks&#x201D; setting for a new food blender. Observers note what happens when a customer uncovers one of these outrageous features. \nMe and My Shadow: Observers carefully record a participant using a product or service. Observers sit next to the participant to watch for and listen to actions, expressions, comments, and suggestions. Observers ask questions of the participant, such as &#x201C;Why are you doing that,&#x201D; or &#x201C;what are you thinking at this moment&#x201D;. \nProduct Box: Participants imagine that they&#x2019;re selling a vendor&#x2019;s product at a tradeshow, retail outlet, or public market. Participants use plain cardboard boxes, glue, paint, crayons, and other scraps and knickknacks to design a product box that they would buy. \nPrune the Product Tree: A very large tree (representing a system or product) is drawn on a whiteboard. Thick limbs represent major areas of functionality within the system. The edge of the tree&#x2014;its outermost branches&#x2014;represent the features available in the current release of the product. Participants write new features on several index cards that are shaped like leaves, and then they place these feature-leaves onto the tree, revealing which branches (product features) are important to customers for future improvements. \nRemember the Future: Participants imagine a time in the future when they will have been using the product almost continuously between now and then. (&#x201C;Future&#x201D; may be expressed in months, years, or some other time frame.) Participants then write down exactly what the product will have done to make them happy, successful, rich, safe, secure, etc. \nShow and Tell: Participants bring in examples of artifacts created or modified by the product or service. Participants explain why these artifacts are important, and how and when they are used. \nSpeed Boat: A drawing of a boat appears on a white board or sheet of butcher paper. Anchors &#x201C;attached&#x201D; to the boat prevent it from moving quickly through the water. The boat represents a product or system, and the anchors are features that the participants don&#x2019;t like. The lower the anchor, the more debilitating the feature. \nSpider Web: A product name appears at the center of a circle drawn in the middle of a whiteboard. Participants draw other products and services, explaining how, when, and why they are used. Participants then draw lines that link these additional services to each other and to the product&#x2019;s circle. \nStart Your Day: Participants describe their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly events related to their use of a product. Descriptions are written on pre-printed, poster-sized calendars or timelines taped to the walls. Participants include events with time frames that match the product&#x2019;s expected lifecycle or release cycle. Participants may also include one-time events (particularly horrible days where everything goes wrong) and describe how the product helps or hinders as the event unfolds. \nThe Apprentice: An engineer or product developer uses the product as an end-user. For example, if the system is used for data entry, the developer enters data for a couple of days. Observers record the engineer&#x2019;s actions, expressions, comments, and suggestions. \n
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