I have recently started paired agile coaching with Jason Cheong-Key-You. Jason suggested this ‘game’ for an Agile Acceptance Testing Workshop I was leading. He first experienced as an introduction to agile session with James Shore and Diana Larsen.
I have dubbed it ‘The Presentation Game’. It takes a minimum of 90 minutes – here’s how it works:
I did this myself and it would have worked better with two facilitators. If you have two, I suggest that you each support one team during estimating and planning and so on.
[10 minutes] Introduction
I suggest a quick ice-breaker followed by a description of the how the workshop will proceed. You will need to establish two teams. With a group that already knows each other you could skip the ice-breaker and use additional time for debrief. Have each team select someone to ‘pitch’ their session. Identifying this person early will allow them to construct a mental model of their pitch in advance.
Each team will create stories where each story is a topic to be covered. Instruct people to write one topic per index card. if you are doing this by yourself rotate around and answer any questions they may have about the session. If the opportunity arises, try to get participants to break-down big presentation topics into smaller ones.
I was doing this session focusing on acceptance testing so I asked the group to define their acceptance criteria on the back of the cards. This proved to
be a little problematic as I could not easily see them. If you decide to include acceptance criteria I suggest you get participants to write them on separate cards.
Before starting, I suggest handing out three index cards with large H, M, L on them and instruct attendees to do T-shirt sizing based on the *value* of the topic. This helps because we can be sure to estimate the higher priority topics first – in case time gets tight. Go to each group for four minutes and estimates their stories via points. Write the points on the card – I used a red marker so the estimate stood out. I also used a scale of 1 point per minute of presentation time. Be sure to act like a development team estimating: ask questions, clarify, negotiate, challenge, try to split the story etc.
Based on the estimates and your target velocity each team should select the stories that they want you to present.
 Pitch and Vote
Each team should then pitch their presentation to the entire group – timebox this to 2 minutes each. Then take a vote from all attendees as to which presentation they would prefer to hear. Be ready for a tie-breaker if you have an even number of attendees – e.g. flip a coin.
Review the cards and arrange them in a logical presentation order. If you have a co-facilitator I suggest creating a quick task board with “not started”, “in progress” and “done” columns. Tape each topic card and its acceptance criteria to the task board.
Move each topic card as you go. For people new to agile this will help reinforce the use of a story, acceptance criteria, “done” and so on. Remember to ask after each topic is presented if the acceptance criteria has been met. Have someone, either a co-facilitator, or a volunteer run a timer for you and let you know at regular intervals how much time is left.
I debriefed using a simple fishbowl and this has mixed results. This format works great if you have people that are comfortable enough to share openly.
My Take-Aways from This Format
- arrange for two facilitators – this was hard to facilitate alone
- excellent demo of courage – look to underscore this in debrief it it comes up
- excellent focus on delivering value – I kept stressing that I would would estimate any topic they came up but theior presentation would be more likely to succeed if it was aligned with what was most valuable to *everyone* there.
- I found it hard to present concisely on some topics. For instance, one topic I spoke on was “What is Agile?”. It made me realize that we should have short mini-presentations available to answer such questions. Perhaps lightning talks would be a good way to sharpen the saw on this!