Monday, March 31, 2014

Scrum Challenges - QA Drawerings - Blue Submarine

QA Drawerings

The collaborative game problem solving game of drawing.
The Rules:
  1. The judge will draw on the white board an image.  This image will represent a starting point for the team.
  2. The judge will then provide to the team a problem that they have to solve.
  3. Once the problem has been revealed there will be no further talking until the challenge is over.
  4. One at a time the team will approach the whiteboard and draw either a single straight line of any length or a single circle of any diameter.
  5. They will then hand the pen to the next person in line and they will do the same.
  6. This continues for a set period of time, usually about 2 minutes before end of scrum so there's a bit of time to discuss the solutions.

  1. Judging the solution:
    1. There is no set solution for the problem.  Thinking out of the box is highly encouraged.
    2. There does not need to be only one solution, in fact it is more common, with the complete lack of communication, to have multiple partial and/or complete solutions.
    3. The solutions has to include a means for the solution to happen.  ie - if the problem is hanging picture and someone draws a nail in the wall, how did the nail get there?  is there a hammer, a hammerer etc.
    4. This is meant to be fun, so there is no real way to 'win' or 'lose'

QA Drawerings - Blue Submarine

The Hint
Often the team will ask on Thursday for a hint for Friday's Scrum Challenge.  I will produce very dastardly vague hints.  On occasion these have caused email speculation wars amongst the team on Thursday and even sometimes research to help them do better in the challenge. 

While the hints are kind of evil and super vague they are always groaned at or at least understand as to how they relate to the actual challenge the next day.  They have yet to figure things out from a hint though. 

The hint for this one actually stemmed from a joke someone made in scrum after somebody asked for a hint.  Someone else joked that the hint would probably be something like, 'blue.'  I took this as a challenge and produced a scrum challenge to match. 

The Problem
Paint my green submarine blue

Starting Picture

and the Finished Drawering

In the end they built a bubble around the submarine that they were going to fill up via a trough, tube and a truck.  Although there was also a blue cannon being arranged. 

Team drawerings are amazingly fun for the facilitator and relatively fun for the team.  They enjoy the speed of the activity and the creativity of drawing.  You can feel their need to cooperate on the solution and you can feel their frustration at their inability to communicate as part of that need.

What Went Right
This challenge is just one giant ball of learning for everyone.  

What Went Wrong
It's really difficult to stop the team from talking and communicating.  You have to police this well.  Also, they hate being constrained by the one line or one curve rule.  If.  They.  Could.  Just.  Draw.  One.  More.  Line.  They.  Could.  Solve.  Everything.....So hard. You can feel their frustration. 

Picking the right drawings for this game can be challenging.  Some work, some don't just because of how hard to pick a solution can be.  This one worked all right, as did the changing a lamppost light-bulb one. 

Lessons/Team Benefits
I learn so much about communication every time i see this game played.  So much about the need for design to be a collaborative and communicative approach.  Without someone to harness and direct energy you get multiple solutions.  Without words providing context to discussion you can see one person's solution co-opted and turned around completely before it's their turn again.  The truly successful participant in this game is the person who can be elastic enough in their planning to go with the flow of what happens to their drawing.  

It's a true moment of brilliance when you see a person understand what someone else is going for, if not their entire solution and just helping.  Stick figures happen like this a lot, you might not know what a stick figure will do when it's complete but your whole team might help you draw it to see.  You can also see frustration on people's face when that stick figure is complete and before you can get back to the start of the drawing line, someone else has taken it a completely different way. 

You're helpless to succeed on your own in this challenge.  It never works out that one person goes off and draws their own thing because other people just want to help.  When you start a new tactic for the solution other people will see this and contribute.  however, they may not contribute in a manner that fits your goals.  

This is simply an amazing game to watch and absorb.

Quality is _________? - Scrum Challenge

A few months ago ASQ (the American Society for Quality) sent out an email to its members asking them if they wanted some bumper stickers they were offering to support some ASQ quality anniversary (my apologies, i've forgotten which - probably World Quality Month).  I thought that it was a good offer and asked for 5.  And promptly forgot about them. 

Until last week when when they arrived in the mail.  The bumper stickers are plain, white, say at the top 'Quality is' and have a space to write in the ending to this statement.  They also have an ASQ emblem on the side.

Not wanting to fill them out all by myself and having more than 5 team members i had to get a little creative in figuring out what should be on each sticker.  So i came up with a little game for our Friday scrum challenge.  

The Rules

  1. The Team was asked the day before to bring with them to the Scrum Challenge 10 answers to the statement, 'QA Is __________(!)'
    1. response could be one word or a phrase up to 10 words.
  2. During the scrum all of the responses were handed in to the facilitator.
  3. Each participant is given 5 votes.
  4. The facilitator reads out the 10 responses for each participant. 
  5. After each 10 the facilitator asks each person if they want to vote for any of the responses.
    1. if a response is voted for it is written on the whiteboard and the number of votes are indicated beside it.
    2. multiple responses can be chosen, they get added to the whiteboard and tallied.
    3. participants are responsible for remembering their votes and not to use more than 5.
  6. Scoring
    1. The top five responses by vote will end up on a bumper sticker.
    2. Each vote for a response will give that person a point.
    3. Each response that is duplicated will give each participant a point.
      1. In the case of a duplicate, both participants score the votes.
    4. The highest scoring participant will win a prize. 

Here are the responses that got votes - in order of votes

    1. Quality is Never an Accident
    2. Quality is Above Quantity
    3. ​Quality is What Developers BELIEVE They Deliver
    4. Quality is A Creative Process
    5. ​Quality is Achievable
    6. Quality is Pricey /Costly
    7. Quality is Not a Finishing Move in Mortal Kombat
    8. Quality is Defined by the Customer
    9. Quality is a Song by Paul Simon
    10. ​Quality is One of the Best Words Starting with Q. 
    11. Quality is Everyone's Responsibility

and here are the actual winners in order - most votes at the top.  (oh, the 5th one was a write in vote by the facilitator - ie me)

We have not yet figured just where we are going to put the bumper stickers.

This game was well received by the team.  Some very healthy debate was had during the reading out of the selections that people had made.  Whether quality really was accidental or creative and some good team camaraderie was had discussing what developers really believe quality to be.  The discussion was lively enough that i had to stop it in order to get through the reading of everyone's submissions.  We picked the discussion up again in a lunch & learn meeting that we have biweekly and it took up most of the hour. 

What Went Right
  • Excellent discussions about what quality really is.  

  • The team enjoyed the challenge quite a bit. 

  • What Went Wrong
    • Timing was a little tight for the number of submissions. 

    Lessons Learned
    There's a lot of passion in QA's about quality.  There's also some wiggle room about what the word really means.  There still isn't true agreement about whether or not Quality is Never an Accident - a division that my wife and i also hold.  For the record, i think that it is never an accident.  In any product you build no matter what the circumstances of the moment of creation are, the tools that you use in creating have already had quality discussions as part of their makeup.