This game is a co-creation by Craig Smith and Renee Troughton. It has had some minor tweaks through the years but has been an actively used game for over three years.
The Scrumheads game is a quick game to practice the Daily Scrum activity in a safe to fail environment where constraints have been setup to result in a challenging Daily Scrum to facilitate as a Scrum Master. Built somewhat like the ‘Celebrity Heads’ game, participants are aware of what their behavioural persona is, but it is not shared with the rest of the group. The aim of the game is to get through the Daily Scrum in 10 minutes and determine the personas that each person is representing. The game is run once with an additional component at the end to retrospect and discover the personas.
This game is normally done in a forty-five minute time block: 5 minutes upfront for instructions, 10 minutes for the game, 5-10 minutes for the team reflection and 20 minutes for the debrief.
8 pre-written cards and one A3 (or larger if desired) mock wall are required for each team of 8.
On each card is written a behavioural persona. For the benefit of the retrospection it is valuable to also assign a fake name to the persona. The eight pre-written personas are:
- The Scrum Master – JD
- Reports to the Scrum Master – Jen
- Isn’t working on anything – Mike
- Quiet and mumbles – Sue
- Talks and talks and talks and talks… – Trish
- The joker, interjects all the time when others are speaking – Frank
- Never answers the three questions – Bob
- The superhero, working on lots – Dave
The A3 (or larger wall if desired) is pre-printed in advance. It contains a basic wall with a set of columns – eg backlog, in analysis, in dev, in test, ready for production. To get the most out of the debrief it is additionally recommended to have “ready for” columns to demonstrate that work is ready to be pulled. Critically Mike should not have any cards assigned to him on the wall and Dave would have a large number of work on the board, some in done (ready for…) and some in progress.
The A3 walls should be setup in advance of running the session.
A large clock set to countdown 10 minutes is also advantageous.
The audience should be split up into teams of eight and position themselves in a concave circle around the A3.
Each team is instructed to read a behavioural persona (distributed to them by the instructor). They are to try their best to excel in being that persona as they conduct the Daily Scrum. Furthermore, they should not reveal to others in their team what persona they have been given until near the end of the debrief.
The teams are then expected to answer the three Daily Scrum questions:
- What they did yesterday
- What they plan on doing today
- What roadblocks they have
If teams are new to this activity it would be recommended to either write these questions on a whiteboard or place a poster of them next to the A3. As the walls are mocked up team members should be aware that they will need to ad lib or make up content suitable for the activities they are listed against on the A3.
Teams should be instructed to start answering the questions from the left of the circle all the way to the right. Teams are given 10 minutes for the activity.
For the purpose of the game, the teams should be aware that within the ten minute block of time the instructor will be acting the part of their senior manager.
What should occur is a very chaotic Daily Scrum, a headache for any Scrum Master.
Midway through the Daily Scrum the instructor should pretend to take a phone call and loudly talk to the phone disrupting the team. At the end of the call the instructor (senior manager) then attempts to pull the Scrum Master away for a very important issue. The instructor will then reveal that there is a severity one defect in production and someone needs to immediately resolve it.
At the end of the ten minutes the teams are then asked to reflect on what occurred in the Daily Scrum and write up what worked well, what didn’t work well and describe the types of personas that they observed.
Reflections that the instructor should ensure are brought to light are:
- How far through the ten minute timebox did the team get? If they didn’t get through, why not?
- Did everyone answer the three questions? Ask Bob to comment on how it was handled.
- Who was providing their answers to the team versus who was talking to the Scrum Master only? Ask Jen to comment on how it was handled.
- Was it clear to everyone who was working on what? Ask Mike to comment on how his persona was handled.
- Could everyone be heard? Ask Sue to comment on how her persona was handled.
- How did the Scrum Master handle interruptions to the flow? Ask Frank to comment on how his persona was handled.
- Did the Scrum Master find a balance on having just the right amount of information flowing, how did they handle offlining Trish
- Was Dave really a super hero? Was he potentially pushing items through without following any quality steps?
- Was anyone working on something that was in the “Ready for” column or on items in the backlog?
- How was the noisy bystander handled?
- How was interruption to the Scrum Master handled?
- How was the urgent item handled?
An additional 15 minutes are usually taken by the instructor to cover off other elements to the Daily Scrum that this game does not handle including:
- How to represent blockers
- The importance of touching the cards
- The purpose of the Daily Scrum (What’s in it for me?)
- When to update the board
- Who is really responsible for the Daily Scrum and board maintenance
- The importance of answering the questions going from one side to the other in the circle.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.