How I used lego to teach AGILE

If you’re from a web development background you are more likely to be familiar with agile, however speak to people outside of our bubble and there’s still an education required.  I was asked at John Lewis to find a simple way to explain agile to graduates, and other teams around the business.  I wanted to find a fun, interactive way to teach people the basic principles.

Firstly I introduced some basic concepts to people, about the concepts of sprints, retros and testing.

Introducing the brief

I explained that everyone is going to experience a “child-friendly” version of working in Agile. They’ll be put into groups, where they’ll each chose a role at random. Using the tools provided, they will need to work together to;

  1. Build a house out of Lego,  to keep a ‘paper person’ living inside safe.
  2. Make sure the house provides them shelter, as there is a rainstorm coming!
  3. Ensure the house is aesthetically pleasing.
  4. Build over a series of sprints until we run out of time!
  5. The house must keep its user dry from unexpected torrential downpours!
  6. Depending on your role, you’ll only be able to work in certain ways….

Selecting a role

Each team member needs to pick a role from one of the following;

Kicking off the first 1 min sprint

  • The Product Owner needed to give a broad sense of the vision for the small house.
  • The designer sketched out a design and selected the first set of bricks
  • The BA wrote the first few user stories on post its
  • The developer put the bricks together closely examined by the team

30 second retrospectives

  • At the end of the first sprint we had a quick retrospective.
  • Each team then reflected on what had been built and planned the stories they could commit for the 1 min sprint

The next few sprints

  • Over the next few sprints the teams slowly built their lego houses.
  • They focused on their ‘MVP’ which was a house with a roof.
  • One of the teams found their house had ‘broken’ during the build.  This was a great opportunity to demonstrate the ability to iterate and write new stories.
  • Some teams who had got quite far during the process were then able to go onto building stories further in the backlog.  These focused on aesthetics e.g. plants and windows on their lego house.

Final testing

At the end of the session, I took each house and with the paper man inside and pour’d water on-top to see if it could withstand the ‘rainstorm’.  I also critiqued each house for it’s aesthetics.

See video below of the whole event..