agile · Gamification

Innovation Games and the Agile-Budget-Problem

Serious games can help manage some challenges in transitioning from traditional/waterfall projects to agile projects. For example, in a traditional project, the scope is known up-front and the project budget is fixed, so the expectation is that all product features will be delivered within that known budget. The budget and time may be fixed in an agile project, but not the scope. There is a constant give and take overtime on defining the product features and agreeing on which features will be delivered within the given time or budget. However, project sponsors fear the budget will run out before all the features are delivered. So, they force agile projects to be managed the same as waterfall projects. Let’s call this the agile-budget-problem.

Serious games can be used to give the customer an opportunity for experiential learning about incremental, iterative scope delivery. For example, Innovation Games can engage stakeholders in collecting user stories. In his 2007 book Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play, Luke Hohmann describes 12 Innovation games that can be used for the team can collaborate with customers or users to understand their needs, requirements, and priorities. A few Innovation Games related to the agile-budget-problem are buy a feature, bang for the buck, and 20/20 vision. They engage the customer in a way that puts the customer in control of decision-making on how the scope will be iteratively approached within the project budget.

Many games are based on customers working together creating, negotiating, explaining, prioritizing, and envisioning the products and services that will enable them to accomplish their goals.

Luke Hohmann

‘Bang-for-the-Buck’ is a game in which the stakeholders collaborate to prioritize the product backlog based on value and risk. The goal is to have the stakeholders prioritize what’s important and valuable.

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In ‘Buy a Feature,’ stakeholders are given a fixed budget. They’re shown features and estimated prices, and the stakeholders must decide which features to purchase for that budget.

20/20 VISION
In ‘20/20 Vision’, customers negotiate the relative order of importance of product features. The goal is to order the features from most to least important.

Product Feature Care Built In Memory Work Points 10 Value 300

Our game, The Project Win GameTM, is a serious game that teaches the difference between agile and traditional projects. Furthermore, several game components can be used to play some Innovations Games.