Monday, August 1, 2011

The Scrum Ball Point Game - Tennis, anyone?

You know when you're having trouble keeping all your balls in the air? There's a game for that..

The scrum ball point game is a very popular lean game in scrum/agile programming circles, and it has nothing to do with pens.

The rules are simple. Like most lean games, it depends on breaking people's preconceptions.

The goal of the scrum ball point game is to pass as many balls as possible through your entire team in two minutes. Actually, the goal is to introduce scrum, facilitate teamwork, adaptation and continuous improvement.

Scrum is a development method commonly used in software creation. It depends on a check and adjust cycle, an iterative process of the PDCA method Teams inspect their work and adjust accordingly. The concept of self-adjusting teams is what's introduced in the scrum ball point game.

The rules:

1. You are one big team.
2. Balls must have air time.
3. No ball to your direct neighbour.
4. Start point = end point
5. Play 5 iterations of 2 minutes, with 1 minute inbetween.

That's it.

Boris Glogner, the creator of the scrum ball point game, maintains a blog with more information, or you can check out this direct link to the .pdf

Often times, people will start off in a two lines and will adapt with each iteration and end up moving closer, which improves each team's flow. Just like other lean games, it's important to have some sort of debriefing afterwards to explain to everyone the relevance or the game.

Here's a video of a massive group playing the scrum ball point game. You can see the progression through the 5 iterations and improvement with each step.



The scrum ball point game is not just for programmers! Its an excellent game to illustrate Lean concepts. PDCA and improving continuous flow and crucial to the success of the game.

 What about you? Have you played the scrum ball point game? How did it work for you?

 I've added this game to my humongous list of Lean games and simulations. 

Check out Martin's link in the comments below showing a video of the game played with ping pong balls. 

Karl has posted a link to his version of the Ball Point game with details for how to progress through each round. He's also created an excel spreadsheet to track data and calculate control limits. Check out his version!

2 comments:

  1. We've played it - with Table Tennis balls!

    Works *really* well to get people into the improvement milestone.

    http://writing.easyweb.co.uk/table-tennis-ball-game-a-lesson-in-improvemen

    What I didn't capture on video was one of the team members quite seriously saying after round 1: "No, this is perfect; we can't improve on it"

    Clearly the team proved him wrong, but that's so often the mindset we work with.

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  2. Awesome video Martin! I love how you highlighted the different stages and the improvement after each one. And great video production!

    I think the use of table tennis balls might make the game even better, since they are inherently a little more cumbersome to deal with.

    Thanks for sharing!

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