If you’ve ever looked at photos from a Planit training courses, you may have noticed some participants playing with LEGO. Although it may look like a fun way to spend a lunch break during training, the LEGO is actually used in class to teach about the importance of managing a backlog to deliver real value to a development project. It is also key in demonstrating the importance of soft skills in Agile teams where high levels of collaboration are critical.
Interactive, hands-on training
LEGO is often used in introductory Agile courses. These courses may include activities such as LEGO building so participants can experience real-world Agile, whole-life-of-project practices and maximise learning outcomes.
The LEGO activity is popular for both Agile trainers and the participants themselves to demonstrate and learn about the benefits of teamwork and delivering real business value to an Agile project. The goal is for teams to build the Product Owner’s (PO) vision of a town using LEGO as the building material.
The first step in the LEGO activity is to divide the participants into teams. After a few moments to get to know each other, the groups then come to the PO, the trainer, to listen to the shared vision of the town.
The PO creates an initial backlog of user stories, such as building public infrastructure and private real estate, which they use to tell their vision of town to each of the teams. The backlog stories are already ranked by priority based on business value.
The teams then estimate the workload for every user story in the backlog. Estimation is an important part of Agile, where development teams try to figure out which tasks are needed to deliver the user story in a timely manner. This is one of the differences from traditional projects, as this estimation is for the entire team and not separately for development and testing.
When it comes time for the construction, teams are given a basic layout for the town, such as roads, train track, and a river. Using LEGO blocks as building materials, the teams build their towns as envisioned by the PO.
During the review stages, the PO compares the original vision for the town with what teams have delivered. Teams also receive valuable feedback on their creations from the position of business value.
When presented with a backlog, it can be tempting for teams to focus on the easier, lower priority user stories than working on the harder, high priority ones. However, successfully completing one high priority user story in the backlog may provide more business value to a PO than four or five low-level ones.
The next step is a product presentation, where teams showcase and explain their LEGO creations. Depending on the approach teams used for their backlog, they will find out whether they provided enough business value to the Agile project. Finally, teams are given time to reflect on what they have achieved and what they could have improved.
Leap into Agile
As you can see, one goal of the LEGO activity is to demonstrate the importance of working together to deliver real value on a development project, and avoid the pitfall of pursuing tasks that are quick and/or easy but not high priority. Explaining this concept in a training course is one thing, but letting people experience it first-hand using LEGO is both educational and fun.
If you are an experienced tester who wants to become a valuable member of an Agile team and/or get Agile accredited for recognition among employers, clients and peers, then our Agile courses will help you achieve that. We have classroom courses run by a certified industry professional, which culminates with an exam consisting of soft skills, practical and written components.
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