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.

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