Agile / Games

GBL for Agile Coaching: Planning Poker Zoo

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about game-based learning to support agile coaching. I’ll write a series of articles on my thoughts.

Games are already used a lot in agile training. In my CSM certification course the trainer used two games: the XP game and the Planning Poker Zoo game. The planning poker game was used to exemplify how the process of collaborative effort estimation with planning poker and similar techniques work.

The game itself was pretty simple. It was played in groups of 4 or 5 people. Each player had a set of planning poker cards, with values of 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20 and 40. We had a number of tasks to estimate: the effort to acquire certain animals to the zoo. Each round we picked a different animal from the list to estimate and used the planning poker process to come up with a shared estimate.

The game quickly showed the consensus-driving effect of the planning poker process. At first our estimates varied wildly but very quickly we agreed on a common set of assumptions and boundaries for the estimates. We also were able to come to agreement on individual estimates based on the conversations we had. It also showed that if the estimates would have been left to any one people in the game the outcome would have been a lot different.

Mountain Goat software has a free online implementation of Planning Poker software on its website. Along with a chat program (irc, IM, Skype etc.) it could be easily used for online multiplayer sessions of Zoo Poker Planning game to learn about the process and benefits of Planning Poker.

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