Experiencing Play 4 Agile



“I am just about to take off from the Frankfurt airport after 3 and a half days of intensive game experiences and social interactions with awesome people who you notice as soon as you arrive at their conference that enjoy a lot what they do. I undoubtedly will intent to attend next year”. This is roughly the first thought that comes up to mind just after opening Word. It’s been an exhausting learning experience that is worth the hassle when Vueling decided not to allow me to check in when I got to the Barcelona airport 45 minutes before the flight took off. But, this is not what I want to talk about…

“Be brave”

Someone at some point during the open space said” I need to be brave enough to try this with teams that I work with…” and I just began to reflect on that. If I step back on last few years, I must say that I’ve left my comfort zone and got into the stretch zone many times. I’ve tried many different approaches so far: system thinking and metaphors for retrospectives, brainstorming sessions, popcorn, personal coaching, however, I have never tried to explore teaching and learning through playing games.

So, next lines contain in a few lines what conclusion I got after playing these games.

Fluxx: This quick game changes its basic rules and the main goal almost every round. As if we were working for a company that is trying to improve through countlessly feedback loops, we have to adapt to the new target and change our strategy accordingly.

I cannot find a better way to explain to the teams the principle “Responding to change over following a plan” or We accept changes even late if it helps our customers to maximize its competitive advantage”.

Escape: Funny and frenetic game in which you and your team has to escape from a mine with the higher number of diamonds you can collect in a certain amount of time. It’s time-boxed (iteration) and players decide before starting the best strategy to accomplish the goal (planning) and execute in an uncertain world (the mine rooms and the exit room is discovered as players explore its rooms).

Scrum Cards: An easy to play game which exposes to newbies concepts like sprint, estimation, uncertainty, collaboration, teamwork and many others.

Black stories: In this game the facilitator describes a situation and invites people to ask him/her questions about it. The only single rule is that questions need to be replied with either yes or no. A useful game for training lateral thinking.

“#P4A16 it’s not only about Agile… but people”

I also had time to attend a promising session about NVC. Even though the game needed some refinement, I got some ideas I’d like to explore in future workshops.

Following with the topic, I played a Feedback Card game from the company: open cards

This game visually provides some clues about abstract concepts you can use to give feedback. A subset of the deck of cards depicts feelings you can use to express how you feel during the feedback session. As an NVC practitioner, I’ve seen these cards a very useful resource due to the fact we usually use a limited amount of feelings every day.

An awesome session led by the Agile Master Olof Lewitz invited us to dig into Confidence. I got the following list of games to play with:

  • Dixit
  • Rhetoric
  • Personality Poker
  • Delegation Poker
  • Nobody’s perfect
  • Secret Hitler
  • Macchiavelli
  • Werewolf
  • Open space
  • Dojo’s and fishbowl
  • Powerpoint Karaoke

“Lego is everywhere in this conference”

The first two days of the open space we explored with Lego different situations. I participated in a couple of sessions however I was mostly focused on the facilitation script rather than the output of the session itself. My takeaway is that most important thing is the question you ask the group to build.

“Patterns for Creativity”

The last session I attended aimed to explore how creativity can be facilitated through patterns. What could happen if you remove the main function of one thing you have on your desk and combine it with another one? Why would anyone want that new thing? @ilmirajat challenged us using different patterns to create radically different things very far away from what they were originally designed to.

“Hilarious moments”

Ellen Grove helped me to win the only single point I got in cards against humanity in 1 round like this: photo took by Jordann Gross

You can win a round of Fluxx while ordering a bise beer with the worst cards in your hand.

Petra Liesmons demonstrated her coaching skills and patience while guiding me through different rooms of the mine in the Escape.

The plane has just landed and I want to close this post giving thanks to organisers and all people who actively take part of this special community.



Thank you ever so much.

I hope to see you next year in 2017


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