Agile coaches and scrum masters can turn to several tools for the efficient dispensation of their roles. Remember, these coaches and masters are tasked with ensuring that the agile teams succeed, making them an important part of the organization.
These people will tell you that one of the hardest things to do is help teams internalize cultural changes. Making people who are used to a certain status quo embrace new changes shaking the given status quo is not an easy task.
Therefore, whether introducing a small change such as timeliness or a much bigger one such as improved self-organization, a coach or scrum master must go out of his/ her way. You are probably wondering how this is relevant to our topic of discussion.
Well, agile gamification can be used as a tool to help change and reinforce behaviors in a fun and easy way, helping the company or organization achieve agility. In this article, we will cover more on this, furnishing you with all the information that you would like to know on the topic.
What Is Agile Gamification?
Agil gamification is made up of two words, and to clearly explain what it is; we ought to uncover the meanings of each. Agile is an iterative means of managing projects and developing software to increase the value that project teams deliver to customers. On the other hand, gamification is the employment of game thinking and mechanics to drive problem solving and impart the desired skills.
Agile gamification, therefore, is the use of game mechanics and rewards aimed at increasing team engagement and imparting on team members the desired behaviors, especially in an agile software environment. Remember, agile methodologies have a manifesto and values that are more focused on human elements and behaviors, which are not usually easy to change.
One of the core gamification strategies is giving points and badges to players who have completed valuable tasks as a reward. This is a fun-filled approach that prepares and helps agile teams to be responsive to changes.
How To Start Agile Gamification
You need to have a clear plan and a well-rolled out procedure before the commencement of agile gamification. There are several questions that you will have to ask yourself and answer to ensure success. Let’s guide you through that.
1. Defining Target Behaviors
Agile gamification is all about imparting new behaviors to agile team members in a fun-filled way. Therefore, you ought to ask yourself the behaviors you desire as an agile team and some of the activities you can simulate. The answers should align with the business goals.
An easier way to uncover the target behaviors is first to go back to your business objectives. Afterward, think about the project that the teams aim to solve and lastly, the practices that ought to be boosted to solve them.
Alternatively, ask yourself what you need the agile team to do before thinking of the behaviors you want to simulate.
2. Seek Approval
You should seek approval from your seniors and the expected players before running a gamification program. Remember, the success of any game you come up with greatly relies on the acceptance of the players and the goodwill of your superiors.
You cannot force a team member to be part of your program, given that the decision to play or not squarely rests on them. You are therefore expected to bring your negotiation and convincing skills into play at this point. Inform the target players what they stand to gain if they take part in your gamification program. You can also promise them rewards to win them over.
Also, convince your superiors that the target game comes with several advantages to the organization.
3. Know The Players
Our guess is that you have interacted widely with the intended players if they are your team members and know a lot about them. We advise you to make them feel valued by asking them what they expect from your gamification program.
It is also wise to run the Bartle test of gamer psychology, which will help you better understand your team’s characteristics.
4. Customize The Games to Reflect the Needs of Your Team
You need to build your gamification game in a manner that takes care of the needs you defined in the first step. Luckily, there are several websites and tools that you can use to select the games and tools that you need as an agile coach.
Do not settle for a conventional game that does not reflect the specific needs of your team. Ensure that whatever you go for creates friendly competition and drives collaboration with other teams in the organization.
Remember, you also have the choice of building or buying your gamification program. If you intend to build it, leverage all the possible gamification frameworks that help you focus on your business objectives.
If this does not excite you, then consider trying Agile Leagues.
5. Run Your Program
Once you have bought or built a gamification program, it is now time to run it and measure the actions performed by all the players. This is normally easier if you use a piece of software, which helps you track multiple attributes and players’ behaviors.
Keep in mind that you may not be able to track everything. In such cases, make sure that you meet and interview the players and ask for their input. Also, remember that players should report their actions manually by informing the program of their actions.
However, this raises one major concern: How will you know whether all the activities have been executed as agreed and that the participants are not cheating? Simple. The team members should be responsible for that. Remember, agile methodologies greatly rely on teamwork, and therefore, having a manager supervise participants goes against its core principles.
Ensure that there is a peer activity review program in place. This boosts self-organization and trust and ensures minimal time is spent on activity reviews since the team members know what their counterparts are doing.
Peer activity review also boosts self-regulation since the players have the liberty of coming up with their standards surrounding the acceptance or rejection of activities.
6. Make Adjustments
Your work does not stop at running the gamification program. You need to make adjustments constantly. The best way of doing that is by inspecting, adapting, and constantly improving the experience. We, therefore, advise you to add new content, increase feedback, fix any bug or even change the rules, making the program more difficult.
However, remember to consider all the metrics and attributes obtained in step 5.
7. Come Up with Areas of Improvement
You need to define all the activities you expect your colleagues and coaches to perform regularly before grouping them into areas of improvement. These are various domains, including collaboration, meetings, communication, software engineering, or even collaboration.
8. Focus on intrinsic Reward
Given that software development is not an easy task, people prefer intrinsic rewards over extrinsic ones such as money, stocks, prizes, and commissions. It calls for lots of creativity and complexities, and therefore, the best you can do to reward people is offer them recognition, status, mastery, purpose, altruism, or honor.
In-game elements used in gamification, we mainly have points, badges, and leaderboards. Most gamification programs revolve around these three, given that they are highly effective and may play an important role in achieving your business objectives.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at these three rewards:
Points are normally given to people encouraging them to do certain activities to collect them. By giving points, one assumes that people will work harder to achieve certain objectives. This reward especially favors those who like collecting things or participating in competitions as it gives them the motivation to do even better.
You can also use points as a means of collecting feedback quickly and easily. Therefore, ensure that you understand the nature of points and use them to achieve what you intended to with your gamification system.
You can consider badges an upgraded version of points. In gamification, a badge serves as a visual representation of achievement within the process. Some of the reasons why badges are used are that they offer a goal and provide a system of possibilities. They also detail a personal journey and act as virtual markers of what they are possible of.
Lastly, people with the same badges will feel a connection, thus building collaboration and improving teamwork. You can also come up with a new reward that fits every context. However, if you cannot, then badges and points will serve you well.
Advantages of Agile Gamification
There are several advantages that agile gamification brings to your organization. These include:
- It helps stimulate collaboration and build relationships among the team members.
- Playing games through gamification helps people socialize, self-express, and collaborate.
- It leads to new valuable insights by offering a different perspective and culture to the organization.
- An environment with gamification will make people feel free and speak up, be honest, and open.
- Gamification helps visualize whatever is happening in the organization and thus helps people in decision-making.
Agile Gamification Examples
It would be best to keep in mind that agile is mostly concerned with team alignment, mindset sharing, and streamlining of work to satisfy all stakeholders. Playing together builds team dynamics, helping you achieve some of the core principles of agile. Here are some examples of agile gamification:
This was invented by renowned scrum trainer Alexey Krivitsky who wanted better scrum simulations during his classes. In this creation, teams are allowed to role play and get hands-on product development. It happens in the space of 1:40 to 2 hours of play.
The trainer, in most cases, is usually the product owner. Another instructor or team member assumes the role of scrum master, even though the game can be possible even without the role. Th game’s main objective is to create a Lego City and is usually suited for classes of about 20 people.
The product owner, in this case, will detail the normal behavior and what they expect from the team remembers. Scrum masters are charged with facilitation, whereas the testers participate in the building process for the game’s success.
The class is first divided into teams, and the backlog is kept open so that the product owner and the team can collaborate. What follows is mindful product development via a value-oriented backlog. This happens over several tasks, after which metrics are collected.
2. The Scrum Board Game
This is normally played by a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 people. Th scrum team comprises the players who collaborate to find solutions to their problems and identify opportunities. It simulates a sprint to burn down a certain value of work before the 10th game.
This play is mainly focused on team discussion and agreement under different opportunities, problems, and a range of tool cards. Th player will get stuck when faced with an impediment, and a tool card offered to convince the other team members that it is the solution.
You can download this game from the mountain goat software’s website.
3. The Product Owner Game
The product owner is charged with guiding the agile team’s efforts to ensure that their work adds real value. This here is one of the games that can help these individuals in the dispensation of their roles.
It helps the product owner become all-rounded and grow and improve up to a point where they can balance variables such as scope, budget, time constraints, and stakeholder input.
4. Scrum Knowsy
This is yet another game that one can use in agile. It was created by James Coplien and aims at improving team alignment. It, therefore, ensures that the team shared priorities in different aspects. It further encourages critical thinking and solution-finding.
Gamification can help you align your team towards the same direction and also impart desired behaviors. I hope that our article has answered some of the questions that you had regarding this topic.