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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Apr 12, 2019

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by co-collaborator, Sam Falco! Sam is an agile coach and Certified Scrum Professional with an extensive background in leading agile development teams.


Today, they’re going to be talking all about games and why they are an important part of agile. Sam illustrates why games are not just time-wasters, but are actually powerful learning tools that help teams come together and solve problems.


Sam and Dan discuss what constitutes a game, why they’re important to agile, the difference between games and simulations, and the importance of doing a debrief with simulations to ensure the learning objective is achieved. Sam also gives some examples of different games, how to use them in training, and some sources of resistance to games that may show up in the workplace and how to solve them.


Key Takeaways

Why are games important to Agile?

They help build relationships

They have goals, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation (very similar to Scrum which is why it can be so powerful to leverage)

Cooperative games build team rapport

They allow time for a break on difficult work-related problems while still building problem-solving skills

Games that Sam recommends:

Hanabi, the card game

The Penny Game

The Ball Point Game

The Rope Game

Escape: The Curse of the Temple, the board game

Rory Story Cubes, the dice game

Apples to Apples, the card game

How games can be used in training:

Hold retrospectives to discuss how to get better within these games

Tie these games back to how to work better together as a team over time

Use them as a learning tool to learn about individual team players and how they function within a team

Bring games into the retrospectives to shake things up

Debrief after the game to reflect on key lessons

Sources of resistance to games that may show up in an organization and how to solve them:

Someone senior in the organization may not understand and consider it a waste of money (Solution: explain the value that both the company and the teams will be gaining)

An internal barrier within the group where someone may perceive an activity or game as weird or uncomfortable (Solution: you can adjust the game or allow people to opt out)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Sam Falco (LinkedIn)
Global Game Jam

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,

by Jane McGonigal

The Grasshopper — Games, Life and Utopia, by Bernard Suits and Frank Newfeld

Hanabi (Card Game)

Penny Game

Ball Point Game

The Rope Game

Escape: The Curse of the Temple (Board Game)

Rory Story Cubes

Apples to Apples (Card Game)

Lead True: Live Your Values, Build Your People, Inspire Your Community, by Jeff Thompson

Agile Coaches’ Corner, Ep. 20: “Dr. Jeff Thompson on Values-Based Leadership”


Sam Falco’s Book Pick

She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity,

by Carl Zimmer


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