Retrospectives Toolbox – Non musical chairs game

chuzzeteAgile Games, ScrumLeave a Comment

Later on, at the beginning of my journey with one of the teams that I have been working with since February 2013, I wanted to use a game to add some fun to our first retrospective together. So what I proposed to the team was that we would be playing a game to tackle one of the 5 dysfunctions of a team, which arises during the iteration, I’m talking about the “Absent of Trust”.

Here is a summary of the experience that I’m happy to share with you:


We planned to play the [ Non musical chairs] game, extracted from our friends [ Tasty Cupcakes] which was designed to tackle 4 objectives:

** Self-Organized team is really efficient (no manager needed)
** Team should find a quick and simple way to communicate (short verbal word)
** The strategy has to be very simple (no time for thinking or organizing the team during the play)
** Each member should trust other members (for taking care of the chair he left)

 Materials required to play the game 
* One chair for each team member and another one for the facilitator
* A chronometer to measure each iteration
* The team
* A facilitator
* We put into the room wall, 3 big white papers with:
** Game Instructions
** Game Rules
** Game Iterations

* How long we play it? 30 minutes’
* How many iterations the team played before having a Winning strategy ? It take the team up to 8 iterations before reaching the winning strategy
* Does the team have fun doing the exercise? A lot of fun !!!

== Results ==
* The first and second iterations were pretty short, because the facilitator could sit almost immediately after the chronometer started.
* After that, the team started during their retro, to find a way to cover the empty chair.
* Then the third and forth iterations lasted for more than 15 seconds but again the empty chair was took by the facilitator.
** At this point of the game, communications were out loud and quite inefficient between team members.
* Then something magical happened, the team asked for time along, which means no facilitator in the room, to plan better their strategy regarding their empty chair.
* Once the team refined their strategy to protect the empty chair, then fifth, sixth and seventh iterations last longer than 30 seconds, the communication improved a lot, there were just words no phrases between them to protect the empty chair, self organization was taking place, short messages to communicate appears, and some trust was build but not enough to protect the empty chair for the whole minute.

====Nice things happens====

* By the eighth iteration, after a productive team retro, ”’the team was able to win”’. They were so happy to reach the goal, the team was really excited about it.
* Next iteration the team kept their winning strategy and again the empty chair couldn’t be occupied by the facilitator during a minute.
* We were all tired by the end of the exercise, I mean physically, because working in a productive team requires a lot of effort but the recompenses are infinite when that happens.

Final Thoughts

This game is one of those activities that you can re-use by time to time, to refresh team communication, reinforce trust and self-organization.  I challenge you to try it, I assure you that it would make a break within the team dynamic  and it would help them realize the importance and responsibility that each one of them has as being part of their team.

Thank you for your comments.


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