Category Archives: *All Games*

The Coffee Game

Overview: This game lets players experience the burden of being a Product Owner, backlog management and having to choose between stakeholders. Players will form a team responsible for everything related to coffee and will try to create as much business value as possible for their organisation while keeping stakeholders happy.

Timing:  60 minutes

Materials needed:

  • enough room to form teams with their own space
  • per team (pref 5 or 6 people per team) the game materials (team description, role description, userstory cards, scorecard and 1 dice)
  • some candy to be used as reward/bonus  for example bag of mixed chocolate minis. It’s more fun and perhaps provides some nice insights if some of the rewards can be shared (like M&M’s and Rolo’s) and some can’t be shared easily (Mars,Nuts).
  • visible timing device


Facilitators guide is in the game materials provided. The facilitator explains the games, runs 3 rounds of backlog refinement and sprinting as well as keeping and comparing scores between teams :) . Between every sprint the teams can do a retrospective to improve and the facilitator can use this to teach concepts touched by this game.

Learning Points:

  • Basics of backlog prioritizing
  • It’s smart to have some sort of business value model as guide to base your backlog ordening on
  • Refinement doesnt need to be perfect right away and isn’t a one time thing. Timebox, start and keep refining as you go
  • How do you keep stakeholders happy while adding as much business value as possible

Materials download:

English version v1.1 (20161208)

Dutch version v1.1 (20161104)

  • simplified some of the stories and their dependecies
  • enhanced layout of the storycards, improved font & color for story ID and extra remarks on card
  • seperated handout/facilitators guide/presenter slides

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Filed under *All Games*

To Plan or Not To Plan


The game is organized around two activities, drawing a picture and telling a story. In both of these activities, the group will be split into separate teams, with one team given specific time and instructions to plan ahead. After both activities have been completed, the facilitator assesses and leads discussion around the team’s work, and the teams will have a chance to compare their experiences.


30min – 45min

Number of participants

Ideal 6 – 8, enough for two teams of engaged participants.


  • Drawing surface
  • Red, green, and blue markers
  • x1 printed text of “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, large enough for the entire team to read. (you could also display it on a tv or projector)
  • x2 printed booklets of instructions. This booklet should have the following instructions printed one per page, in the following order.
  1.  Draw a red square
  2. Draw two green squares and a green rectangle inside the red square
  3. Draw a dog
  4. Draw a triangle
  5. The triangle should be on top of the red square
  6. The dog should be blue
  7. Draw a flagpole
  8. The two green squares should look like windows
  9. The green rectangle should like a door
  10. Draw seven birds
  11. The triangle should be red
  12. Draw some grass
  13. The flagpole should be flying a banner with the 23rd line of the “Jabberwocky” on it


Split the group into two teams, Team 1 and Team 2. Tell them they will be participating in some group exercises, where one team will be given time to plan, and the other will not.

Activity One – Draw Me a Picture!

Tell the teams they will be given a booklet of instructions for drawing a picture. Ask Team 1 to leave the room, and start the activity with Team 2.

Team 2

  1. Tell them they will be given one minute to review the instructions in the booklet, and four minutes to draw the picture.
  2. Hand them the booklet and start the clock on the planning minute. Do not allow them to begin drawing. Observe how they plan and divide up labor. See if they are able to identify that they are drawing a house before they start.
  3. Once the planning minute is over, start a clock for four minutes and instruct them to draw the picture.

After the drawing time is complete, allow the team to step back and discuss their work for a moment or two. Then cover the picture, ask them to leave the room and invite in Team 1. For Team 1, follow these steps:

  1. Tell them they will not be given planning time, but that they will get a bonus minute at the end to make up for it.
  2. Hand them the booklet and start the five minute clock on the drawing time. See if the team naturally plans, or simply barrels right into drawing shapes. Observe if labor is being shared, and if they are having to do rework.

After the drawing time is complete, allow everyone a brief time to catch their breath, and then cover the drawing, invite the other team back, and begin the next activity.

Activity Two – Tell Me a Story!

Tell the two teams they will be doing a five minute literary analysis on a famous poem. This time, ask Team 2 to leave the room, and start with Team 1.

  1. Tell them they will be given one minute to plan a presentation that identifies the hero, villain, and plot of the piece. Start the clock off. Allow them to use whatever material is at hand, including laptops.
  2. After the planning minute, display the Jabberwocky poem and start the timer for four minutes. Do not allow people to use their phones or laptops to look up answers to the questions.
  3. Once the four minutes are up, have the group give you their presentation on the hero, villain, and plot of the poem. In addition to the correct answers, pay attention to the other details the group adds in.

Hide the poem, invite Team 2 in, and repeat the process, this time with no explicit planning time at the beginning but with a five minute clock.


  • You may need to play around with the amount of time the teams get to complete their activity. You want enough time for the planning group to be able to complete their task fairly well, but without going back and refining their work.
  • If you want to make things extra tricky on the picture drawing activity, remove the blue marker from the room. When the team finds out they need a blue marker, either watch them improvise or tell them “blue markers are on backorder,” and deliver them the blue marker a minute after they asked you for one.


You should notice a difference in the two different activities and how the teams handle them. The drawing activity is specifically designed to be trip up people if they don’t read all the instructions first, whereas the story activity is more straightforward. Just like in software projects, sometimes planning is important and sometimes it only provides minor gains, and the team should reflect on these things if possible.

A couple specific questions to ask

  •  What kind of obstacles did you run in to?
  • If a team didn’t plan, ask them why.
  • Did you fully understanding the picture instructions before you started drawing?
  • Did you have to do any rework?
  • Where there any differences between the two activities? Did one require more planning?
  • Does planning lead to better outcomes? Compare the two pictures, and recount the presentations.
  • Can you relate this to an instance in your day-to-day work? Where is planning effective, and where can we roll through things at face value?
  • What kinds of things are causing us delays or rework in our development? How can we better plan for them?

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Filed under *All Games*, communication, development, lean, Team Dynamics

Pitfalls & Possibilities

This is a simple construct for having potentially difficult conversations about what went wrong and deciding on a plan going forward.

1. Start with a Lean Coffee format to gather the topics of conversation.

2. As the group discusses each item, capture the pitfalls and possibilities on the board using a a two column chart with horizontal line having double arrows to signify looking back and looking forward. Label the first column PITFALLS and the second POSSIBILITIES.

3. End with Action Items on a matrix to the right of Possibilities labeled PLAN.

PPP.jpg (53 KB)

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Filed under *All Games*, communication, meeting, retrospective