25 Agile Games to improve team performance and collaboration

on on 18 min read 0 comments

Whether you’re a seasoned Agile coach looking for effective Agile games, or a facilitator borrowing the Agile framework for team projects, I invite you to bookmark this page. Done? Thank you! Let’s read on.

The Agile methodology has revolutionised the way teams approach project management by emphasizing the importance of flexibility. This 2022 report states that after adopting Agile, companies have experienced a 60% growth in revenue and profit. Agile teams are reported to be 25% more productive, and 88% of workers believe Agile improves their quality of life.

But is it hard to adopt? When I first studied Agile, my main concern was that it would be complicated. After all, the Agile manifesto comes from Agile software development. Would Agile be like learning a new language? No, thank goodness.

Agile empowers teams to self-organise and collaborate on solutions between themselves and with customers. Agile encourages learning, growth and continuous improvement to deliver value. Teaching the principles is straight-forward, but putting them into practice is the challenge.

This is where Agile games and activities come out to play!

Playfulness and gamification are no longer seen as frivolous but as powerful tools to enhance positivity, learning and application, and team collaboration. Positive emotions like excitement, curiosity, and enjoyment have been linked to increased attention and improved learning outcomes. Games are a wonderful way to learn and integrate Agile principles.

In this article, you’ll find 25 Agile games and activities that teach Agile principles and support the Agile manifesto. Many of the games will teach three or more of the principles and are often designed with real-life scenarios in mind. You’ll find activities grouped into the five key stages of the Agile process alongside facilitation tips and advice for engaging team members in the process.

What are Agile Games & Activities?  

Agile games are interactive activities designed to enhance a team’s understanding and application of Agile principles, practices, and values. An experiential approach allows participants to learn Agile concepts that they can use in their day-to-day work.

Agile games reinforce key principles, such as the importance of collaboration, iterative development, and continuous improvement. By incorporating Agile games into coaching and facilitation sessions, teams can gain a deeper understanding of the methodologies and strengthen their Agile mindset.

Many of the agile team building games and activities here are specifically designed with Agile concepts in mind, or have been selected from the SessionLab library as they facilitate Agile learning. They’re a great way to teach Agile concepts or to use in your Agile projects.

You’ll find clear instructions on how to implement and integrate Agile principles and how the learning objectives align with the scenario. To maximise the benefits, it’s best to allow time for feedback and a meaningful debrief.

Taking this space to bridge learning about the agile production process and how the techniques can be practically implemented can ensure your team is fully prepared for your next project.

When you’re ready to run an Agile kickoff or retrospective, it can be helpful to create an agenda that you and your team can follow.

SessionLab makes it easy to build a complete workshop agenda in minutes. Start by dragging and dropping blocks, add activity timings and adjust your session flow to create an effective session.

A complete workshop agenda created in SessionLab.

Agile games for improving team self–organisation

Self-motivated and self-organising teams are the foundation of any successful Agile project. In this section, I’ve grouped together introductory activities that set teams in good stead to self-organise. They teach the Agile principles and facilitate team interaction.

You’ll also find games that introduce Kanban and Scrum, two processes designed for organising workflows.

Scrum comes from rugby-lingo where teams huddle together to move the ball forward. In the context of projects, the team comes together to move the product forward. Cross-functional teams work in sprints and gather in a daily stand-up meeting to discuss progress, plan work and address any obstacles. Scrum emphasizes flexibility and continuous improvement, enabling teams to deliver value throughout the project.

Kanban was developed by Toyota in the 1950s and adopted by Agile teams to better manage workflow collaboration. It uses a visual board with columns representing different stages of work, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”

Work items are represented as cards, and move across the board as they progress through the workflow. Kanban focuses on limiting work in progress (WIP) to improve flow and ensures that teams can complete tasks efficiently.

There are many other Agile frameworks to explore though for a solid foundation, playing agile games such as those below are a great way to get started.

Kanban Pizza

Step into the busy kitchen of an Italian pizzeria to learn the principles of Agile and Lean in the most delicious way possible! This educational cooking experience introduces the concept of Kanban and can help teams transition from their current process to a more efficient system. By comparing the workflow with and without using the Kanban process, the team can see the benefits of using a visual workflow.

Create pizza parlour names for each team and show an example of a pizza slice you’d like them to produce. Don’t tell them how long they have, but set a timer for 8 minutes. The challenge is to make as many as possible without waste. When you shout, “Stop!”’ quality assess and score each team on their pizza-making skills.

Next, you’ll introduce Kanban principles: 

  • Visualize the Workflow
  • Limit your Work in Progress (WIP)
  • Manage the Flow
  • Implement Feedback Loops
  • Make Process Policies Explicit
  • Improve Collaboration

Teams will work for a second round, this time tell them they have 8 minutes to make pizzas. Before they start, they’ll have five minutes of planning using the Kanban principles. Teams reflect individually and share in the group to discuss behaviours, feelings and workflows.

Using Post-its or a digital whiteboard, they should see the impact of visualizing workflows. Limiting the work in progress and managing flow improves team organization and efficiency! By making the Kanban process as easy as pizza pie, it won’t feel intimidating!

Kanban Pizza Game #team #agile #hyperisland #remote-friendly 

This Pizza Game is a great way for new or established teams to understand the principles of Lean & Agile by diving into Kanban in a quick and fun way that is hard to communicate through words alone. It teaches you how to get from an existing process to a Kanban system, how to visualize the system, and start modifying it.

The Pizza Game enables the teams to have a hands-on experience feeling the pains, gains, frustrations, and fun throughout the process – and to reflect on improvements that the participants can share back in their workplace. Bonus: you get to make (paper or digital) Pizza!

Presto Manifesto

Success can be measured in different ways. Is it simply about meeting deadlines and staying within budget? Or should customer satisfaction be a key factor as well? This exercise introduces participants to the Agile manifesto and encourages teams to find their own path to success.

Participants are divided into groups and asked to draw upon their project experiences to identify critical elements of successful projects. Each team member signs off on the criteria that they agree with and the lists are compared for patterns. 

And hey Presto! Regardless of their Agile experience, teams recognize the importance of customer collaboration, communication, and team dynamics. These criteria align with the fundamental principles of the Agile manifesto, highlighting its intuitive and practical approach!

Presto Manifesto #agile 

Begin by defining what success on a software development project means. Is it only about being on time and on budget? What about customer satisfaction?

Goal of this session is to introduce participant to agile manifesto.

Daily Scrum Meeting

Even without a comprehensive Agile strategy, a simple morning meeting like the daily scrum can help team members align and remove bottlenecks for better project organisation. 

The daily scrum is a concise, 15-minute exercise that revolves around three fundamental questions: What did I complete yesterday? What will I do today? And what obstacles, if any, are impeding my progress? 

For remote teams like ours at SessionLab, a daily scrum can be invaluable. We have an asynchronous daily stand-up on our Slack channel to allow us to stay connected, aligned and support each other. This practice serves as an efficient high-level to-do list, ensuring clarity and team cohesion. It not only saves time but also provides a platform for quick updates across the entire team.

Daily SCRUM meeting #practice #empowerment #agile #meeting #framework 

Even if you don’t apply the full SCRUM framework, you can adopt some of its practices.

The daily SCRUM meeting is a short (15 minutes) meeting quite often held at the beginning of each working day with the full team.

Personal Kanban

Teams are often faced with the challenge of juggling multiple projects at once. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and try to tackle everything, but this is not the most effective approach. 

The personal kanban gives teams the autonomy to self-organize and prioritize their own projects. By focusing on a smaller number of tasks at a time, team members can dedicate their attention and effort to a manageable workload. This method not only enhances productivity but also leads to higher-quality outcomes. 

Visualising a backlog and accepting it as a normal part of a time-boxed project helps relieve the pressure of trying to address everything. A Kanban board provides a structured system for managing priorities, bringing order and balance that lead to successful results!

Personal Kanban #gamestorming #action #agile #project planning 

Personal Kanban is a tool for organizing your work to be more efficient and productive. It is based on agile methods and principles.

Agile Clock 

To facilitate the understanding of the Agile principles it is helpful to visualize them and be able to explain them briefly in a few words.

Each team is given a copy of the Agile manifesto and the goal is to distill each principle into three words or less. Words should be written on stickers and hung within the circle on a flip chart. The clock is created with each number corresponding to one of the twelve principles. 

You can also incorporate the corresponding icon from the Bikablo set (or draw your own if you’re feeling creative). Adding a fun visual element to your clock helps give a quick reference point for each principle. 

So any time you’re stuck or unsure in your Agile practice, take a quick glance at your trusty Agile Clock.

Agile Clock #agile #agileprinciples #self-management #project management 

A proper understanding of Agile Manifesto is VERY important for the introduction of Scrum. The twelve agile principles are less abstract than the four values of the Agile manifesto and can be easily understood.

The game is based on an exercise Pocket-sized Principles.

Agile games to improve team collaboration

When teams are aligned and transparent they are far more likely to succeed in their projects. With effective communication and collaboration, groups of any size are able to overcome bottlenecks and avoid siloing.

In this section, you’ll find games and activities that improve team collaboration. These games are immersive and will give participants a taste of what an Agile project could look like.

While playing, teams will organically learn other Agile principles, such as welcoming changing requirements and promoting sustainable development. Use these activities whenever trying to bring a new team up to speed or simply improve how team members work together in an Agile production process.

The Marshmallow Challenge with Debriefing 

Discover the power of collaboration in this well-known exercise developed by technologist, designer and facilitator Tom Wujec. The Marshmallow Challenge is a key activity for demonstrating the Agile framework and has been played by hundreds of teams around the world. 

The goal is to build the tallest freestanding structure using spaghetti, tape, string and a marshmallow in 18 minutes. Afterwards, facilitate a debriefing. This challenge builds teamwork and encourages self-reflection and improvement.

The discoveries in the debrief highlight how teams can improve their planning processes, and how prototyping and testing play a part in forming the right solution. Teams will improve their collaborative skills, such as active listening, valuing others’ ideas and co-operating. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing #teamwork #team #leadership #collaboration 

In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.

LEGO Challenge

Finding the equilibrium of cooperation and problem-solving can be challenging. In this game, teams come together to construct a LEGO masterpiece, but there’s a twist: each person is assigned a secret mission! 🕵️ 

One individual may be responsible for ensuring that adjacent bricks have different colors, while another person aims to build the entire structure using only blue bricks! To add an extra layer of challenge, participants are not allowed to communicate verbally during the 20-minute game.

Reflection is crucial to any Agile game. Following the LEGO Challenge, participants can identify their blind spots by asking:

  • What transpired during the task?
  • How effectively did they function as a group? 
  • How did the experience impact their emotions? 
  • What valuable insights did they gain about themselves and group dynamics? 

Go further by identifying parallels between the game and how your team communicates and collaborates.

LEGO Challenge #hyperisland #team 

A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

Ball Point Game

The Ballpoint game, invented by Boris Gloger, is a well-known Agile game that can help a scrum team improve collaboration and deliver effective solutions. Teams pass as many balls as possible through the group in 2 minutes following specific rules. The game is played in five iterations, recording estimates and actual scores.

Teams reflect on how they self-organize and communicate, and perhaps how their estimates become more accurate as they change their process. The lesson is that all processes have a natural velocity, and changing the process is often more effective than working harder or faster.

There are many parallels with Agile, and the game poses several questions: 

  • what happened? 
  • which iteration felt best? 
  • were there improvements achieved by working harder or faster? 
  • were there any bottlenecks, and how were they identified? 
  • how well did the team self-organize?

Demonstrate the value of Agile and have fun while doing it!

Ball Point Game #agile #scrum #warm up #collaboration #teambuilding 

A popular Agile game to remind companies of their Agile roots, to harness collaboration and participation. Discover parallels in Agile and lean in a reflective discussion

Penny Game

This activity teaches us the importance of iteration and how to self-organize to deliver value. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a coin collector to join in!

Through play, teams will discover that size of the batches has a direct impact on delivery. With larger batches, there’s more pressure to get the batch to the next person. With smaller batches, the pressure is lower but more constant. It’s all about finding the right balance.

But it’s not all about speed. The Penny Game also teaches us the importance of customer feedback and iteration. By delivering the product in batches, we have the opportunity to make changes and improvements along the way. 

The Penny Game #agile #team alignment #iteration #process 

The “Penny Game” allows the team to learn through self-organization and observation; specifically, that smaller batches can deliver value to the customer faster. In addition, the game demonstrates that the size of the batches has a direct impact on the delivery. With a large batch, the Workers feel more pressure on themselves to get the batch to the next Worker; with smaller batches, the pressure is lower but more constant.

Open Space Technology

When working on complex challenges, the traditional set-up of meetings can stifle collaboration and creativity. 

Open Space Technology (OST) gives Agile teams the opportunity to choose which challenges they need to solve and how. It encourages autonomy and ownership by creating a space for workshop agendas and solutions to emerge. Participants discuss relevant issues, follow their passions, and take action together. 

The “Law of Two Feet” principle guides engagement. If a participant is not learning or contributing in one session, move to a more relevant one. This exercise provides structure while allowing for emergent ideas. OST encourages active participation and leads Agile teams toward relevant outcomes.

Open Space Technology #idea generation #liberating structures #problem solving 

When people must tackle a common complex challenge, you can release their inherent creativity and leadership as well as their capacity to self-organize.

Open Space makes it possible to include everybody in constructing agendas and addressing issues that are important to them. Having co-created the agenda and free to follow their passion, people will take responsibility very quickly for solving problems and moving into action. Letting go of central control (i.e., the agenda and assignments) and putting it in the hands of all the participants generates commitment, action, innovation, and follow-through. You can use Open Space with groups as large as a couple of thousand people!

Agile games designed to improve prioritisation

Agile values adaptability and flexibility to respond to changing requirements, customer feedback and market conditions. Through the processes of prioritisation, timeboxing and iterative development, every team member can deliver high-quality results and navigate any changes to a project. Sounds ideal, right?

Prioritization helps teams focus on what matters most. By effectively allocating time and resources teams can focus on high-importance items. Agile teams can quickly deliver valuable increments of work and meet customer needs.

Timeboxing is a short block of time allocated to getting things done, usually lasting 2-4 weeks. Within that block, teams can make course corrections and incorporate new insights at the end.

Through feedback and continuous improvement, teams can refine their processes, enhance efficiency and deliver higher-quality results. In this section, you’ll discover games that uncover the power of processes and prioritisation in Agile!

Ecocycle Planning

A pre-project discussion ensures that only projects that align with both business and solution requirements are started. But what about ongoing projects? Ecocycle Planning enables teams to collaborate, organize and prioritize each project.

The primary objective is to identify areas that require additional attention and resources, as well as areas that impede progress and hinder the overall performance of the company.

What I find appealing about the exercise is its emphasis on transparency throughout the entire organization. Everyone gains a holistic view of both the larger organizational landscape and its individual projects.

This visibility enables teams to see both the broader context and the specific details of ongoing projects. The result is a shared understanding that facilitates better decision-making!

Ecocycle Planning #action #liberating structures #strategic planning 

You can eliminate or mitigate common bottlenecks that stifle performance by sifting your group’s portfolio of activities, identifying which elements are starving for resources and which ones are rigid and hampering progress. The Ecocycle makes it possible to sift, prioritize, and plan actions with everyone involved in the activities at the same time, as opposed to the conventional way of doing it behind closed doors with a small group of people. Additionally, the Ecocycle helps everyone see the forest AND the trees—they see where their activities fit in the larger context with others. Ecocycle Planning invites leaders to focus also on creative destruction and renewal in addition to typical themes regarding growth or efficiency. The Ecocycle makes it possible to spur agility, resilience, and sustained performance by including all four phases of development in the planning process.

Paper Plane Game

Timeboxing is a process of providing a clear time frame for task completion. It helps users estimate future work based on past performance and helps stakeholders know when to expect results.

The power of timeboxing is demonstrated in the Paper Plane Game. The goal is to build quality paper planes that fly 30 meters in 3 minutes. Each iteration lasts 9 minutes: 3 for planning, 3 minutes to build and test, and 3 minutes to review. Only planes that fly 30 metres count as successful constructions.

Teams then propose improvements during retrospectives. The game encourages reflection and prompts discussions on design decisions and waste reduction for better performance!

PAPER PLANE GAME #agile #scrum #iteration #team 

How many can you build in three minutes?

The goal of the game is for each team to create as much high quality tested planes that can fly a distance of at least 30 meters . The world record holder last checked in June 2016 was in Germany.

Impact and Effort Matrix

Agile is all about keeping things simple while making informed decisions. This exercise covers both concepts and helps an agile team prioritorize possible actions.

The matrix design invites participants to map possible actions based on the effort required and the potential impact. By categorizing ideas along these lines, teams are obliged to balance and evaluate actions before committing to them.

Facilitate the exercise by giving the group an objective. This can be as simple as asking: “What do we need to do to reach our goal?” Everyone generates ideas individually on sticky notes before presenting their ideas back to the group. Ideas are discussed and placed within the two-by-four matrix organised by impact and effort. 

The Impact and Effort Matrix allows teams to effectively prioritize and achieve successful outcomes!

Impact and Effort Matrix #gamestorming #decision making #action #remote-friendly 

In this decision-making exercise, possible actions are mapped based on two factors: effort required to implement and potential impact. Categorizing ideas along these lines is a useful technique in decision making, as it obliges contributors to balance and evaluate suggested actions before committing to them.

Estimation Game – Cup of Tea

Even the simple task of estimating the time it takes to make a cup of tea leads to varying results. This playful estimation exercise highlights the importance of not making assumptions when estimating. 

For example, assuming that everyone has access to the necessary tools to make a cup of tea – hot water, a kettle, a cup, a spoon, sugar, and tea bags. When it comes to estimating time for tasks in a team setting, it’s important to have these conversations and not assume everyone has the same information or tools at hand!

Estimation Game can be applied to many areas of business, from estimating the time it takes to write a blog post 😶‍🌫, to estimating the time it takes to develop a new feature (such as SessionLab’s new sharable agenda!) It is important to take into consideration all of the variables to improve accuracy and better manage time and resources!

Estimation Game – Cup of Tea #agile #estimation 

Estimation Games are great for starting conversations and honing and tuning estimations before an estimation session. This exercise helps a team to get into the right mindset for estimating and planning for the sprint.

The White Elephant Sizing Game

Estimating timelines, resources and effort is crucial for project success. This exercise focuses on sizing user stories. Shuffle story cards and have team members take turns picking, reading, and assigning them to size columns (XS-XL). They provide reasoning based on expertise, past experiences or observations. 

Iterative adjustments allow moving cards between columns, providing a reason to support the decision. The game ends when all cards are on the board and team members signal that they agree.

The obvious elephant in the room is the lack of a reference point. But once the cards start being assigned, the team can see the bigger picture. Encourage everyone to share their expertise and observations. In real-life scenarios, prioritisation enhances estimation skills and helps everyone understand what’s most important.

White Elephant Sizing #agile #estimation #agile principles 

Reach a consensus by grouping user stories according to scope.

Agile Games for building effective solutions

Iteration and delivering value are two core principles that play a pivotal role in any project.

Agile promotes short iterations, known as sprints, which allow teams to adapt and respond quickly. The iterative approach allows groups to gather user feedback, validate their assumptions and pivot if needed –  all while maintaining a shorter time-to-market.

Delivering value refers to meeting customer needs and effectively improving user experience. The emphasis on delivering value fosters a sense of purpose with Agile teams to take ownership of their work and make a positive impact

In this section, you’ll uncover fun activities and games that will help teams understand and apply the Agile principles of iteration and delivering value through experiential learning. Some of the activities weave in techniques used in Design Thinking to create a user journey and work on iterative development. Let’s dive in!

Resort Brochure

Dreaming of far-flung destinations or campervan escapades by a lake? Let’s turn those daydreams into a Resort Brochure! This fun game uses the Scrum process to work on a mini-simulation that can help teams improve their incremental building skills.

First, decide on a wishlist for your ultimate resort. Capture initial user stories on index cards and prioritize them. Each story is broken down into a task list, for example, they may need to find a picture of a sandy beach or choose a resort name. 

By using a progress board, teams can simulate a scrum scenario on a smaller scale before tackling bigger processes. Each participant has a sense of control and visibility into all the work that is going on.

After the rounds of iteration, the team holds a retrospective where they list what they did well and what they can improve for the next iteration. Try it out for a fun and engaging way to apply Agile processes while creating a resort brochure for the ultimate holiday of their dreams!

Resort brochure #agile #scrum #product development 

Point of this game is to practice with participants incremental Product building

Design Sprint for any team

Design sprints are a fantastic way to iterate and deliver value through ideating, prototyping and testing new concepts! Inspired by Google’s design sprint process, this seven-step workshop provides structure and tools to help teams work creatively and quickly.

First, teams create a visual representation of the challenge, write a brief, set a goal and add sprint questions. Next, target five experts and note down their insights and perspectives. 

In the sketching stage, individuals come up with solutions to the challenge and pick one to sketch in more detail. Translate this final design into a storyboard and prototype the solution.

Finally, test the prototype, collate the feedback and wrap up the sprint with your team. This process encourages rapid prototyping and testing that will improve your team’s creativity and agility.

Design Sprint for Any Team #hyperisland #team #design 

Inspired by Google’s design sprint process, this workshop provides a structure that teams can use to rapidly prototype and test new ideas. Use this workshop to rapidly ideate, prototype and try out a new concept and practice working creatively and quickly with your team.

Four Step Sketch

The 4-Step Sketch folds in elements of design thinking to help teams improve their iteration process.

The first step invites participants to take notes and look at write-ups and drawings from previous activities. Next, they turn their own ideas into sketches. These sketches don’t have to be perfect, they just need to capture the essence of the idea.

The part of this exercise that demonstrates how teams can iterate, is when participants draw their idea eight different times, spending one minute on each square. The goal is to keep sketching and moving forward, asking themselves what could be a possible solution.

Finally, participants move on to a solution sketch, where they sketch a potential concept onto a storyboard. They must ensure that their sketch is self-explanatory and clear, using an explanation next to the sketch.

Remember, this isn’t a drawing competition. The goal is to collaborate, share ideas, and create clear and concise solutions. The value of the 4 Step Sketch is that it helps teams improve their iteration process and generate innovative ideas!

Four-Step Sketch #design sprint #innovation #idea generation #remote-friendly 

The four-step sketch is an exercise that helps people to create well-formed concepts through a structured process that includes:
  1. Review key information
  2. Start design work on paper, 
  3. Consider multiple variations,
  4. Create a detailed solution.

This exercise is preceded by a set of other activities allowing the group to clarify the challenge they want to solve. See how the Four Step Sketch exercise fits into a Design Sprint

User Day-Parting

What I love about Agile and Design Thinking is their human-centred approach. In this exercise you’ll create an imaginary user, also known as a persona, mapping out their average day and identifying challenges they experience. 

Once the teams have mapped out the user’s day, they should identify the biggest pain points that the user encountered. The teams should then brainstorm ideas for products or services that could help overcome challenges and increase efficiency and happiness.

Finally, you’ll present your ideas for feedback and reflection. Teams will create innovative solutions that are focused on the user’s needs and challenges. It’s a great way to develop a user-centred approach to product and service innovation!

User Day-parting #hyperisland #innovation #issue analysis 

This exercise supports a user-centred approach to product and service innovation. Teams create an imaginary user (a persona), map out an average day in his or her life, and identify the challenges that he or she experiences. Teams then use this to brainstorm new products or services that could help with those challenges. Finally, sketches or prototypes of the best ideas are quickly developed presented back to for feedback.

Chocolate Bar Game

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “A chocolate bar game? Is this really helpful for my practice?” This scrum simulation game can teach teams a lot about product ownership, feedback and customer value. 

The challenge is to create the most attractive chocolate bar for your customers within a certain set of constraints. In the role of product owner, participants practice listening to customers and taking their feedback into consideration. 

The game also teaches the importance of iteration. You may not get the perfect chocolate bar on your first try, but by taking feedback and making improvements, you can create a product that truly satisfies your customers.

The game concludes with a debrief. Participants discuss how they made design decisions, how useful the feedback was, and how they measured the value of the chocolate bar. You might end up with a delicious new product idea!

Chocolate Bar Game #agile #agileprinciples #product development #iteration #feedback 

Become a product owner and get feedback on your ultimate chocolate bar.

Agile games for reflection and continuous improvement

A lot of workshops or processes end with a reflection. But in Agile, we ensure that we regularly review throughout the process. The Agile principle of reflection is often referred to as “Inspect and Adapt.” It emphasizes the importance of regular evaluations of the team’s work, processes, and interactions to identify areas of improvement and make necessary adjustments. 

Read on for games and team building activities that create a safe environment for teams to openly discuss their challenges, successes, and potential improvements!


What if you could identify and prevent risks before they derail your project? This exercise is a reflection technique that taps into your team’s collective experience to proactively mitigate risks.

Begin by laying out project goals and ask, “What will go wrong?” 🤷 This simple question uncovers potential risks and pitfalls, so you can intervene early!

Encourage open discussion as team members voice their concerns. Create a list of identified risks, ensuring that all perspectives are heard. Then, prioritize the risks and define actionable steps to address them. Pre-Mortem is a proactive approach that minimizes the likelihood of failure and paves the way for project success!

Pre-Mortem #gamestorming #agile #project planning #issue analysis 

Often in projects, the learning is all at the wrong end. Usually after things have already gone horribly wrong or off-track, members of the team gather in a “postmortem” to sagely reflect on what bad assumptions and courses of action added up to disaster. What makes this doubly unfortunate is that those same team members, somewhere in their collective experience, may have seen it coming.

A pre-mortem is a way to open a space in a project at its inception to directly address its risks. Unlike a more formal risk analysis, the pre-mortem asks team members to directly tap into their experience and intuition, at a time when it is needed most, and is potentially the most useful.

Start, Stop, Continue

Regular review and adaptation are key components of success. This method is a simple way to demonstrate how to regularly assess and develop next steps.

Ask the group to consider the current situation or goal and individually brainstorm in these three categories:

1. Start: What are the things that we need to start doing? This category is all about identifying new actions or behaviors that will help the team move forward and achieve their goals.

2. Stop: What are the things that we can or should stop doing? Here, the team recognize and address behaviors that are hindering progress or causing problems.

3. Continue: What are we doing now that works and should continue? This category is about acknowledging and reinforcing the positive behaviors and actions that are contributing to success.

Once everyone has completed their brainstorming, the group shares their results and works together to prioritize and implement the suggested actions. By regularly incorporating Start, Stop, and Continue into their processes, Agile teams can continuously improve and adapt to achieve better outcomes!

Start, Stop, Continue #gamestorming #action #feedback #decision making 

The object of Start, Stop, Continue is to examine aspects of a situation or develop next steps. Additionally, it can be a great framework for feedback

Alignment & Autonomy

Groups reflect honestly and openly on previous projects using Peter Smith’s model of alignment and autonomy. Alignment refers to shared goals, clear communication and a common understanding of the project’s objectives. Autonomy is the degree of freedom and empowerment given to the team to make decisions and execute their work.

Start by asking the team to identify the actions for a successful project. These actions may include improving communication channels, clarifying project objectives, fostering a culture of trust or empowering team members to make decisions. Improving autonomy and alignment can hugely increase company productivity, and better navigate change:

As Peter Smith saysSelf-organising systems are adaptive, in that they do not just passively respond to events, the way a rock might roll around in an earthquake. They actively try to turn whatever has happened to their advantage” 

Let’s make sure your team doesn’t roll around. Empowering people to find the best possible solution, is a huge part of Agile. This exercise demonstrates both the value of regular reflection and the power of self-organisation!

Alignment & Autonomy #team #team alignment #team effectiveness #hyperisland 

A workshop to support teams to reflect on and ultimately increase their alignment with purpose/goals and team member autonomy. Inspired by Peter Smith’s model of personal responsibility. Use this workshop to strengthen a culture of personal responsibility and build your team’s ability to adapt quickly and navigate change.

Actions for Retrospectives

This activity uncovers ways your next project, meeting or conference can be a success by allowing teams to generate ideas for future improvements.

Players write their thoughts about puzzles, risks, appreciations and wishes and cluster related ones together. As a team, they discuss the novelty, feasibility and impact of the ideas and analyze how they can be applied to the next event. The process is a brilliant way to create practical and efficient actions!

Break free from boring retrospective analysis strategies and create a more productive and enjoyable experience for your team!

Actions for Retrospectives #gamestorming #idea generation #project planning 

 The exercise allows teams to examine multiple aspects of an event or project in order to form original ideas on how it can be enhanced in the future. Break free from the barriers of boring retrospective analysis strategies to discover how you can make your next project, meeting, conference a success.

Challenging Team Agility Using White Elephant Principles

We all know that good enough is never really good enough, this exercise helps teams kick things up a notch! This reflection activity is designed to challenge your team’s agility and inspire them to continuously improve. It’s ideal for retrospectives or any time you want to reinvigorate how your team works together.

To start, print out a set of Agile principle cards and create a poster for the team to arrange them on. Each team member will take turns doing one of the following actions:

1. Pick up a card and place it somewhere on the poster, indicating an area where the team needs improvement. Provide a one-sentence explanation of why.

2. Move a card that has already been placed on the poster. Again, provide a one-sentence explanation for the move.

3. Pass, indicating that you are satisfied with the current placement of the cards and believe it accurately represents the team.

In the beginning, teams may have a tendency to play it safe, but set the expectation that the more they put into this exercise, the more they’ll get out of it. Real growth comes from new challenges and understanding different perspectives!

It’s totally okay to disagree. The purpose is to learn and encourage different opinions. If you’re using this activity as part of a retrospective, consider following up with a round of lean coffee to discuss the principles that emerged. Together, you can come up with experiments that will help conquer any stale vibes and challenge team agility!

Challenging Team Agility using White Elephant Principles #agile #agileprinciples 

This can be used as a retrospective activity, a team reset activity or any time you want to spark some reflection on how you work together as a team.

Share your Agile games & facilitation tips 

I hope you’ve found some inspiring ways to weave Agile principles into your team projects and create a more Agile team. Try bringing these activities to your next sprint to help your scrum team get off to a good start and improve their collaboration and project management skills.

Do you have any favourite Agile games and activities you use in your workshops? Why not add them to the SessionLab library and share them in the comments?

And before I go here are some facilitation tips from me to you: 

1. Make it fun: Agile games are meant to be playful and engaging, so don’t be afraid to get creative! Use props, role-playing, and other interactive elements to make the experience enjoyable for every team member.

2. Focus on learning: While it’s important to have fun, don’t forget that the ultimate goal is to learn and improve. Make sure each game has clear learning objectives and debrief afterwards to discuss key takeaways.

3. Keep it brief: Agile games are meant to be short and sweet, so don’t drag them out for too long. Aim for 15-30 minutes per game to keep participants engaged and focused. This is especially important when working with remote teams!

4. Stay positive: Remember, the goal is to foster a collaborative and positive environment. Encourage open communication, active listening and constructive feedback throughout the game.

Do you have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Play Demo Video

Design your next workshop with SessionLab

Join the 150,000 facilitators using SessionLab

Sign up for free