Home > Articles

Agile in General

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Goodbye, My Friend

After 3 years of running the Scrum Punkin’ Chunkin’ Simulation exercise in my CSM and CSPO courses, the time has come to move on.

I first conceived of this idea back when I was going through my CST application process. I had done smaller simulation exercises in my classes, being a big proponent of Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room approach. The idea of bringing something unique, fun, and yet educational to Scrum courses was very appealing to me, and I began to think about what would distinguish this classroom experience from others.

As a resident of Delaware, I find that many people are unfamiliar with our culture. Other than being the FIRST state and the second smallest, the place where everyone incorporates, and the home of Joe Biden, what is it that really puts us on the map??

And then it hit me:

The World Famous Punkin’ Chunkin’

If you have not heard of this fantastic event, then you have truly been missing out on a concentrated dose of Americana.

Delaware (“De La Warr”) is roughly bisected by the Delaware-Chesapeake canal. Above the canal is Wilmington, which is home to many financial institutions and pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Newark (pronounced “New-Ark,” not “Newrk,” like in Jersey) is also above the canal and is home to the University of Delaware. Below the canal are massive tracts of farming land before arriving at the renowned Delaware Beaches.

Back in the mid-80s, the farmers would celebrate the harvest by having a pumpkin-
throwing competition. As the years passed and one-upmanship prevailed, the competition began to include increasingly more powerful and elaborate machines to throw the pumpkins.

In recent years, the competition has grown to be a three-day weekend event, which is sponsored and featured by the Discovery Channel’s Myth Busters syndicate. The air cannon class of machines can shoot a standard 10” pumpkin almost a mile ... yes, that’s right, almost a mile. Those machines can also cost almost $500K and are a huge marketing opportunity for various firms around the world.

I have also been a huge fan of constructive toys over the years having grown up on a diet of Erector Set, LEGO, Tinker Toys, etc.

Then it came to me: “How about a mini Punkin’ Chunkin’ in the class with different teams building scaled-down models with LEGO?” I set about trying to build a machine with the massive collections of LEGO we have using various rubber bands and some stress pumpkins I had ordered online. The result was like a nuclear explosion of LEGOs all over our living room.

Back to the drawing board ...

Tinker Toys were too expensive, fragile, and heavy. Erector Set: WAY too heavy. “What else is out there??” I thought. And I went searching.

Enter K’NEX.

I had never played with these because they were a little after my time. They have various different mechanical structures and longer pieces with a bit stronger interlocks than LEGO. They still have interlocking blocks, like LEGO, but pieces that are more suitable to the task at hand.

These totally ROCKED!!

I bought a bunch of K’NEX, rubber bands, more stress pumpkins, and some banker bags to assemble kits for the class. A Scrum Team would compete with other Scrum Teams and would include three to nine Dev Team members, a ScrumMaster, and a Product Owner, depending on the size of the class. With five kits, I have been able to conduct the exercise with classes of up to 55 people.

The whole point and goal was to practice Scrum by building a machine in three condensed sprints of 1 hour each; reflecting on the progress, lessons learned, changing requirements, etc.; and culminating in a RELEASE (literally) by way of competition to see who could shoot the farthest.

The results have been phenomenal.

Initially, I didn’t know what to expect. A team shot 8 feet, and I was really impressed. Even more importantly, I observed that the exercise surfaced team dynamics, impediments, and dysfunction that perfectly emulated product development efforts in the organizations I have coached.

Some folks jump right in with a positive attitude and a mind toward the Art of the Possible: “What CAN we do here???” Others focus their efforts on blaming: lack of “technical” knowledge, not enough parts, not enough time, and so on. ScrumMasters have been command and control in their efforts, and Product Owners have been completely disengaged.

Subsequent classes have set records for shooting the pumpkin, all using the same kits, which were randomly shuffled periodically. A team shot 15 feet. Then another team hit 28+ feet; their launch hit a window that was 28 feet away, about 3 to 4 feet up the window. For this facility, there was no larger space to see exactly how far they were launching overall. So, we called it 28 feet.

Finally, a team shot 34 feet using a very simple design at a CSM course I did for VersionOne in Alpharetta, Georgia. The team members were average people, not mechanical engineers. Not engineers at all, really. I think there were some sales folks on the team. But they had a really great team dynamic and working relationship with each other. They didn’t let themselves be daunted by conflict or egos. They followed Scrum practices and used the learning and feedback loops to improve. I was so happy and proud of the team.

I also noticed something else:

The other team felt pretty crappy in the wake of the team that shot 34 feet.

In fact, what started off as a friendly, light-hearted competition aimed at teaching Scrum has evolved into a bitter, intensive rivalry with a “win at any cost” theme. I have noticed teams ignoring my coaching and training throughout the exercise. They don’t bother with what they have learned the previous 1.5 days, etc. I suppose that this in itself could be parlayed into a teaching moment ...

However, I have lost my passion for the exercise itself.

The kits have seemed to become VERY heavy. I feel like I am more impatient with the excuses I have heard over and over about not enough parts, not enough time, and so on. Most importantly, I don’t like that people feel bad that they didn’t produce a machine that shot anything at all, let alone firing 8, 15, 28, or even 34 feet.

I began to brainstorm again on what might be MORE meaningful on multiple levels for the classes. What would involve a low barrier of entry in terms of technology? What is something that EVERYONE around the world could draw upon in their experience? What would be fun but is not perhaps being done by EVERY other trainer out there?

How about a Scrum game?

Yes. That’s it. We will use Scrum to build a game that teaches people Scrum. And the students will be responsible for ensuring that the minimum viable product (MVP) for the entire exercise teaches all elements of Scrum at some level. The Shippable Product Increment (SPI) for each Sprint would be some form of playable game that evolves iteratively and incrementally until they have the MVP.

I have been running this now for the last 5 months in the CSPO class as a pilot, and the results have been very favorable.

ALL teams can produce some kind of game. There isn’t the pressure of a competition that shifts focus away from Scrum. In fact, the focus most definitely stays on Scrum because the game itself must teach Scrum (Bowman, 2008). What a fantastic concrete practice!!

Furthermore, from a logistical standpoint, the supplies are much lighter and can be much more flexible, depending on variations in availability around the globe. That is, in some countries, construction paper is not available. Neither are the traditional Post-it notes, voting dots, etc., that I am familiar with. However, we can still definitely run the game.

I bring multisided, multicolored dice; little plastic gaming pieces in the shape of pirates, skeletons, army men, orcs, elves, Star Wars characters, etc.; rulers; scissors; tape; and glue sticks. All of these things weigh less than one kit for the Punkin’ Chunkin’ simulation.

I also bring construction paper and my standard array of Post-its, drafting dots, voting dots, etc., which are consumed during the class so I don’t have to transport any of that back with me. Thus, this is a much more adaptable simulation for the class and can accommodate even larger classes. (I have used this successfully with classes as large as 75 people.)

And so it’s time to say goodbye to a good friend who has served me well over the last 3 years. I am left with many fond memories of the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Scrum Simulation exercise. Perhaps someday, I will have a reunion or a larger opportunity for some team, somewhere, to break the 34-foot record.

Thank you to all my students who made this an awesome experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from you all!!

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020