Situation

Snakes and Ladders is a classic board game. On the way to the finishing point, the players meet with hurdles in the form of snakes and opportunities in the form of ladders. Replace the game with work in an Agile team setup where teams play the game of snakes and ladders to meet the set goals. However, unlike the regular game of Snakes and Ladders, all the team members have to reach the finishing point together to call the project a success.

Name and Description-  Snakes and Ladders

Snakes Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is an ancient Indian board game regarded as a classic worldwide. This game usually involves two or more players, and they take turns to move up a grid by rolling a die. On the way to the finish, the players meet with hurdles in the form of snakes and opportunities in the form of ladders. Whenever a player encounters a snake, he is thrown back to an earlier position, impeding his success. Whenever a player encounters a ladder, he gains an opportunity to skip blocks and climb to a higher position.

As I watched my two little girls play this game with their friends at home, I could correlate the experience to agile teams as they go through iterations to meet set goals. However, unlike in the game, it is not enough if one person wins. When it comes to an agile project, the game would be really successful only when all the team members and functions climb the ladders and reach the iteration goal. There will be unfortunate setbacks on a team’s journey, just as in the game, but it is important that we face them together.

During another of our team retrospectives, I said, “Imagine we are all playing a game of Snakes and Ladders. How do we propose that all of us reach the top block at the same time?” Imagine the snakes to be the impediments teams face during their iterations. Think of the ladders as the best practices we should continue following and would help us realize our iteration goal.

Simple in its approach as it might be, the basic concept of gamification in retrospectives does two things, brings in a lot of fun and excitement and brings out ideas which would not have come out through conventional approaches.

Instructions:

In your Retrospective ceremony, ask team to compare their project to a game of Snakes and Ladders. How do they reach the finishing line together?

  1. Imagine the snakes to be the impediments which teams face during their iterations.
  2.  Think of the ladder as best practices we should continue following, which could help us realize our iteration goal, in increments.
  3. Fire torch could indicate the precautionary measures or things to help the team improve and meet the iteration goal.

 

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