Experience Report: Running a 2-hour lego4scrum workshop

A few months ago, on November 13, 2018, I facilitated my first agile (& scrum in particular) workshop using lego bricks. Oh yes, that was something I wanted to do for a long long time and when I got asked from my company’s HR to deliver  2-hour session, oh boy did I say yes!

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My whole approach and session structure was heavily based on Alexey Krivitsky’s  (https://www.lego4scrum.com/) amazing work after years of  lego-scrum experimenting, as described in detail in his excellent book (https://leanpub.com/lego4scrum) – on its 3rd edition as of today – and which I highly recommend to scrum masters, agile coaches and facilitators alike. I won’t be talking too much on exact guidelines here as those are basically covered throughout Alexey’s book. I just want to share here only what did I learn and how much wiser I became after running it myself.

Ok, here we go.

  • Planning & good preparation: a) Read the entire guide as many times as needed in order to feel confident about your teaching goals, b) be crystal clear on conceptualizing what the flow of the whole session shall be like start-to-finish, c) make sure all logistics requirements (space, lego(!), stationary etc) have been meet, d) dissect the session in chunks and timebox them (I used the Time Timer iOS app to reference while delivering)

 

It is of  utmost importance to form a compelling product vision, one that you, the facilitator, must believe in deeply, while playing the Product Owner, since this will drive your pathos & energy, which in turn will drive the engagement of folks and the overall success of the session (hmm.. something for all seasoned Product Owners out there to consider..). This vision shall form the basis for the co-creation & discovery activities with the teams. So, it’s very important. I remember thinking about it all the time for a couple of days (while commuting, while having dinner etc) before coming up with it.

  • Try to limit the number of participants to max 25, split in 4 teams for one facilitator. Otherwise it will be very hard to deliver great results in two hours. With 29 people we managed to complete just one Sprint –  even though it went 30 mins off schedule. More on that (see time-faults) a bit later.
  • Know your audience: How familiar are those people you’re delivering for with agile & scrum? Do you need to allocate some time introducing those concepts? If yes then a short intro into scrum shall be enough (~5-10 mins) if not then a strict 20 mins intro shall do it. On that session, my audience were not very familiar and (time-fault no1) I got very easily carried away in discussing the agile mindset more than I had timeboxed (and expected).

 

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Keep a questions parking lot and do not be tempted to answer all questions raised (time fault no2) especially when your audience is not very familiar to agile and scrum and questions naturally get raised. Keep a ‘let’s-do-it-first,-if-this-does-not-become-clearer-or-get-answered-as-we-go,-we’ll-discuss-later’ stance in your responses.

  • While Sprinting, teams, at all times, shall be able to see their time remaining, so use some visible stopwatch or timer (I used https://www.online-stopwatch.com/) on my projection screen for everyone to see. Also frequently shout out checkpoints (2 mins remaining, 1 minute remaining and so on).

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  • It would be good to have some other scrum master or agile coach with you for support, co-facilitation & some post-workshop reflection, especially when your energy levels are starting to decrease, to act as a third eye in case you missed something important, but most importantly to provide you with constructive feedback after the session is over. In my case there was another coach with me who pinpointed to me the goods and the not-so-goods.
  • Next time, in order not to exhaust myself and for my dear participants to actually leave out the session happier, I would prefer to timebox the session at 3 hours. Or embed it somewhere midway as part of a full-blown 2-day Agile/Scrum training session. Feedback received later from participants was great and session was highly rated, but most of the them though wished there was more time for sprinting (and building stuff from the backlog, playing basically).
  • As in every good workshop, following up with participants is a must. Photos, lessons learned and reference material is the bare minimum.

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So, that’s it. All in all, that was a great workshop experience, demanding but rewarding at the same time. One that I strongly look forward delivering again.

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