Friday, June 5, 2015

Scrum Challenge - In a Pickle

Today's Scrum Challenge was a fun little game that I derived from the board game In a Pickle.  In the game you are given some cards with nouns on them and on the game board are four piles of similar cards.  You must play one of your cards, and justify it as necessary such that it either fits in the smallest item on the stack or that the entire stack fits in your item.  It's pretty fun and really stresses creativity and the ability to argue and sway people to your way of thinking.  As might be expected I excel at this game. 


  1. Leader picks an object of some sort.  Should start fairly large. 
  2. Next player must list the objects that come before them and add another item that will fit in the smallest item in the list. 
    1. As necessary the player must justify to the team and the leader that their chosen item does indeed fit inside. 
  3. Each player has approximately 3 seconds to come up with the list and item or they are out. 
    1. Missed items in the listing will also kick you out. 
  4. The game continues, going around the team circle, the list growing longer and smaller, until there is only one person remaining.  That person wins. 

The Results

I'm including the results of our first game. 

  1. Empire State Building
  2. A whale.
  3. A large plastic bucket
  4. A small dragon
  5. A small shark
  6. A muffin
  7. A pencil.
  8. Lead in the pencil. 
  9. A bug in the lead. 
  10. An amoeba in the bug. 
  11. A cell in the amoeba (entire team missed that an amoeba is already single celled)
  12. Martin Short shrunk microscopically as in 'Inner Space' in the cell
    1. We quickly realized that it was Dennis Quaid shrunk in 'Inner Space' into Martin Short but it didn't matter much for the game. 
  13. A Bucky Ball inside Martin Short
  14. A neutrino inside the Bucky Ball. 

This game was hard for some people because thinking fast isn't always easy, especially when you're doing something so outside of the norm.  In general however it was a lot of fun with much laughter.  Even the people who went out took it well.  The largest challenge ended up being maintaining the list. 

What Went Right
Eventually everyone got the game and how it was played, but thinking fast was often challenging.  Keeping the list going might have been the most challenging and fun part of the game for the team.  If we hadn't done the list part, I don't think that there would have been as much involvement and laughter. 

What Went Wrong
Start with a good 3 entry example so people know how it goes before they have to start.  Let people participate as a team in the justification discussions.  As the leader, go with the majority opinion about appropriateness of any particular entry.   Being creative in coming up with your smaller item might be just difficult enough that it's difficult to pick strategic entries that benefit your future team members.  ie - pick something just a little bit smaller than the last item so there are valid, non-difficult choices open to your teammates. 

Lessons/Team Benefits
I think that this is a pretty good team building exercise.  I witnessed team members helping each other to remember things for the list.  Good, lively, laughter filled discussions about entries and whether they were valid were numerous.  From the team perspective this is a very good thing, it teaches your team that they can disagree on items, have some discussion around these items and things still end positively.  As always laughing and succeeding together always help build the team. 

I will definitely use this exercise again.  I believe it is a very good little team building exercise to use on a brand new team.  You don't need relationships or to know people well to still have a good spirited result. 

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