Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scrum Challenge - QA One Uppers - Sofa

A few months ago i came up with a new scrum challenge i've been calling 'One Uppers.'  This one has been a big hit with the team.

One Uppers - Travis Sofa

  1. Start with a random person assigned by Judge.
  2. That person has 10 seconds to come up with a response to this game's challenge.
  3. The next person around the circle then has to come up with a response that in some way one ups the first person's answer.
    1. one upping can mean anything that is bigger, better, more extreme, more interesting, more dangerous, more complex.
    2. use your imagination.
    3. things can be additive.  for example if i'm going to have a glass of water, then you might have a glass of water with ice.
    4. additive can continue almost endlessly but it is not a requirement. 
      1. ie a glass of water with ice and a straw.  a glass of water with ice, a straw and a salted rim.  but then the next one could be an ice cream cone.
    5. the judge can rule against any one up and the person has 10 more seconds to either convince mike he's wrong (next to impossible) or come up with a new response.
  4. This repeats around the circle, the one upping becoming larger and larger.
  5. If a person can't come up with something that the judge likes within 10 seconds the buzzer sounds and that counts as a strike.
  6. After 3 strikes or 10 minutes the game is over.
  7. The number of one ups is counted and the score entered into the annals.  

Here's an example of one of these that we did recently. 
Travis, one of our co-ops was leaving to go back to school.  School being in Victoria, across the straight from Vancouver.  

The Question:
How Travis can get his girlfriend's sofa back to victoria?
The One Ups:
  1. Carry it herself.
  2. Help her carry it.
  3. Use a dolly with flat wheels.
  4. Use a trailer.
  5. Use a horse with the trailer.
  6. Tell Paul about the kitten shortage in Victoria - he'll tow it with his bike to get there.  (Paul fosters kittens for adoption)
  7. Use 2 horses and Paul.
  8. Harness Paul's kittens too.
  9. Swap in a tractor for all livestock.
  10. swap in a RUSSIAN tractor.
  11. Swap in DM riding a Russian Bear for tractor.
  12. Add Pontoons to the Bear to help it swim.
  13. Add 2 canoes under the couch to aid in floating.
  14. Add trained sharks chasing the DM/Bear combo.
  15. Add salmon racing ahead of the bear to have something to chase.
  16. Add cookies in salmon's mouths to encourage DM to motivate bear and paddle himself.
  17. Add a helicopter with a tow rope for DM to hold.

The team has really enjoyed the one ups.  as the team wins or loses as a team (the goal is to get the most one-ups on the board in 10 minutes) it's very collaborative.  Suggestions are often shouted out but people are able to go their own way as well.  It's pretty rare that someone has to default on their choice.

What Went Right
This challenge went very well right from the start.  Team was quite willing to work together towards a goal.

What Went Wrong
It can be second nature to jump to an extreme right away cause that's more 'fun.'  In the introduction i cautioned against that because if you go to extreme too fast it's going to become harder and longer to come up with the next list item.  The end goal, after all, is the longest list, not the most extreme ending.

Lessons/Team Benefits
This game provides really good interactive, collaborative activity time.  It's always very good-natured and you can feel the team gelling together as they work through the 'problem.'   You can also feel the team using team dynamics and peer pressure when people make choices that make the game harder.  A good example was the very first list item on the very first play of the game.  The question was 'how do you stay cool on this hot summer day,' and the first response given was 'go to a waterslide.'  the team vocally rebelled against that individual and forced him to alter his entry to 'drink a glass of water.'   it worked out far better in the end and go to a waterslide was eventually used.  I'm a big fan of using team dynamics and peer pressure to encourage better team behaviour.   One of the most powerful things for QA in running agile teams is the ability of QA to gently mock a developer for making the same mistake repeatedly.

As it is a timed event it also provides exercise in thinking fast and problem solving.  Given that things get silly and you never know what the person before you is going to say you have to respond quickly with an intelligent response.  It also provides a very good exercise in thinking outside of the box.  There is no box for the way these one uppers generally go.

We've played 3 times now and it has yet to get old.