Serious Games to Teach Agility

There are a few games and exercises that you can use to help teams understand the why and the mechanics of being agile. Take a look at:

  • Rival Effort – a three-to-five person game that explores process optimization and efficiency strategies, asking players to allocate their effort between projects. Through the game participants become managers in a company competing to make as much revenue as possible, and thus winning a promotion. After playing the game, an open discussion and debrief with all of the players ensure a solid understanding of the key principals and learning of the game.
  • getKanban – the quickest, most effective way to teach the principles and mechanics of Kanban. Ideally played with multiple teams of 5-6 people to keep it moving along and make it competitive.
  • 8 Great Short Games for Groups – a compendium of games for teams to play.
  • Scrum Lego City – simulate every aspect of the Scrum process in a fun way.
  • Penny Queuing Exercise – understand the efficiency that can come from moving away from a waterfall or large batch process. The exercise can be done with 20 pennies, 5 people and a clock with a second hand.

Have you got a favourite game that you play with teams to help them understand agile and lean practices and principles? Reach out on Twitter @VelocityCounts and let us know.

Measuring Engineering Performance

Just got a great query from an Engineering Director. Love it.

I’d love to pick your brain about engineering team performance measurement. How do you do it? Do you have any experience with what works/what doesn’t work?

I’ve got lots of thoughts on measuring the performance of engineering teams. No doubt you do too, so please Tweet @VelocityCounts and share your perspective. Okay, onwards…

Long story short: if you measure it, and the team is aware you are measuring it, they will game it. So, if the team is going to game the number (as you are measuring it) then you’ll want to make sure it is a metric that, when gamed, leads to the behaviour you want to see. For instance:

  1. Estimates: some teams may think it is about getting more story points completed in a sprint, so they inflate their estimates over time to make that metric look better. Measuring story points leads to poor behaviour as teams inflate estimates at the expense of consistency and predictability. Estimates are for the team. Consistency from sprint to sprint is the key. And you can not compare output between teams due to a different baseline for the estimates.
  2. Code Reviews: a great way to lower the cost is to catch bugs before they hit production, right? Code reviews are one way to do that. Some teams like to measure the time spent awaiting code review, not a bad idea. Just avoid measuring the time spent in code review as teams will optimise for lower time, which may mean lower the quality code reviews and lead to the team missing things.
  3. Incidents: one thing that incidents measures is the direct impact on our customers (outcomes). I see no downside to measuring incidents and I see a positive impact when people try to game this – less incidents, makes the team look better, better for the customer. Also, you may like to ask yourself: can you leverage this alongside code reviews to see who are the people that give ShipIts to deploys that lead to incidents.

At present I’m really interested in measuring outcomes for customers and maximising for that, rather than engineering team performance specifically. For instance, a small change does not mean much output in terms of code, story points, etc, although it may have a massive outcome in terms of customer experience, conversion, etc.

That make sense? What metrics are you thinking of measuring? Let me know @VelocityCounts.

Velocity Counts in 2014 – A Preview of our Backlog and Commitment to You!

VC’ers –  Happy 2014 from Nick and I.  First off, we’d like to thank all of you for all of your encouragement, support and fellowship in 2013.  We are thankful for your steering and guidance and we are moved by your actions.  In 2013, we felt part of your Agile practice and part of your everyday experiences.  What you shared with us was wonderful and what you delivered back to your organization was great, and, in 2014 we can collectively do better!

Before I go any further, let’s take a minute to thank our fantastic sponsors that allow us to provide all of you with valuable content free of charge!

Appfire - North America's most trusted provider of Atlassian Enterprise Services

Appfire is North America’s most trusted provider of Atlassian Enterprise Services


Enterprise Tester by Catch Software helps teams deliver high quality products


Practice Ignition is the #1 tool for the modern accounting practice

What an exciting year ahead!  2014 is going to be nothing short of electric.  During the holiday break, Nick and I were hard at work coming up with an editorial calendar that will finally help you and your organization deliver against the intended promise of your Agile implementation.  We both know that you are not delivering your best and we aim to change that.

Thanks to our sponsors the free content we provide will:

  • allow your Agile implementation’s to become more stable and scalable,
  • make teams more predictable,
  • increase quantity and quality of output,
  • strengthen intra and cross-team collaboration,
  • increase team velocity,
  • allow individuals to achieve peak performance (their Nirvana state), and
  • help teams deliver substantial value back to your customers

Our Definition of Done for 2014 is simple:  Nick and I want to see an immediate and sustaining increase in your velocity.  Dare I say the obvious:  Velocity Counts!

Nick and I have never been this excited to write about content in the Agile space.  There is quite honestly so much going on in this space, that it’s hard to pick areas of focus.  Sadly, we must.  In order to keep our promise and deliver against our definition, we need to be laser beam focussed on the development of content in our areas of expertise.

In early 2014, Nick is focussed on creating content that will help: your teams take shape, move directionally, and create environments that inspire the very best from your teams.  This year, I’ve got my mind wrapped firmly around content that will grow individual performance.  I want 2014 to be your best, which requires you to be at your best – in order for you to deliver against the commitments you are making to your teams.  I’m going deep inside you and that giant brain of yours to make some much needed adjustments.  I’ll help improve your personal velocity and in doing so, your health and behavior.  Definition aside, expect nothing but one hell of a year at Velocity Counts! 

Now, more than ever, Nick and I are interested in hearing what you and your team are up to.  If you’re stuck on something, have a burning question that’s been haunting you, or have an ingredient of your own that you’d like us to share, simply Tweet @VelocityCounts or comment below.

Randall and Nick

Agile 2013 – that’s a wrap!

Nick had a grand ‘ole time in Nashville for the Grand Ole Oprey Agile 2013.


Take a look at his posts highlighting the sessions he enjoyed most. If you haven’t been already, make sure you grab a ticket for next year, the conversations in the hallways are worth the price of admission alone!

Technical Debt meets Agile

Agile Coaching

Agile Metrics – Velocity is not the Goal