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Michael Norton (doc) is Director of Engineering for Groupon in Chicago, IL. Michael's experience covers a wide range of development topics. Michael declares expertise in no single language or methodology and is immediately suspicious of anyone who declares such expertise. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 41 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Lost in Translation - An Agile Game

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One hour, but this can be extended or contracted as needed.

Pencils, paper, timer, and a collection of pictures (royalty free).

One person is the facilitator. The facilitator keeps time, makes sure the rules are being followed, and facilitates the retrospectives.

The rest of the people are broken up into teams of three; a product owner, an analyst, and a developer. The product owner is provided a picture chosen at random from a collection.

The product owner is not allowed to show the picture to anyone else.

The team needs to create a hand-drawn depiction of the picture.

Round One:
Requirements (10 minutes)

  • The developer leaves the room.
  • The product owner describes the picture to the analyst.
  • The analyst captures the requirements.
  • The analyst may ask as many questions as needed in the time allowed.

Delivery (10 minutes)

  • The developer returns and the product owner leaves.
  • The product owner needs to remain nearby for questions, but not in the room
  • The analyst provides the written specification to the developer.
  • The analyst may provide answers to any of the developer's questions.
  • The analyst may ask the product owner as many questions as necessary, but must leave the room to do so.
  • The developer draws the picture.

Retrospective (10 minutes)
What went well? What did not go well? What would have made it better?

Round Two:
The product owner is provided another random picture.

Delivery (15 minutes)

  • Everyone stays in the room.
  • The analyst and developer work together to create the picture.
  • The analyst and developer may ask the product owner as many questions as necessary.

Retrospective (15 minutes)
What went well this time? What did not go well? What would have made this better?

How does round one compare with round two?

Learning Points:

  • Working face to face is easier and more rewarding
  • Working together in real time produces a better product
  • Documentation is less valuable than communication
  • Roles are not so important when it comes to getting the work done
Published at DZone with permission of Michael Norton, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)



Emma Watson replied on Fri, 2012/03/30 - 3:11am

Very nice. Simple. Clean.
How about adding one more rule to the second round (or you could make a third round if you have the time).
At the 4, 8, and 12 minute marks, the analyst and developer are allowed to show their "drawing in work" to the product owner for 15 secs. of feedback.

java program

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