Since this original blog post, Build Your Own Scrum has grown substantially. It’s been used by Scrum Trainers to teach Scrum from the back of the room around the world at companies like Intel and Expedia, and in countries ranging from the United States to China. I am excited to see how it’s taken off, and what people have to say about it:
“Build Your Own Scrum is not only an effective tool for collaborative, interactive learning, but it’s also a starting point to deeper discussions about the elements of Scrum which challenge an organization the most. It’s one of the best tools in my coaching and training toolbox.”
~ Clinton Keith CST, Author of Agile Game Development with Scrum
I’ve created a facilitation guide that includes all the supporting materials to run the full 3-4 hour module. You can grab the original BYOS sheet, plus the facilitation guide and supporting materials for FREE:
Build Your Own Scrum
I’ve been working as a full time Agile Coach at Granicus in San Francisco. During my first month on the job I gave several Scrum 101 courses to the development organization. A month after that it was time to start building Scrum teams, and since I had already introduced the group to Scrum, I didn’t want to bore them with another lecture. Instead I created an exercise they could use to refresh their collective memory. I’ve since used it while co-teaching a CSM course as I pursue my CST certification.
The goal of the exercise is to get small groups of 5 to 9 people collaborating with each other to recreate the workflow of Scrum from memory, or by using Michael James’ Scrum Reference Card. I’ve found this works equally well if they’ve attended a lecture on Scrum, if I review the workflow quickly prior to the exercise, or even if the individuals have just read the Scrum Guide. The magic of the exercise is that a group of people, even Scrum amateurs, can work it out together. And isn’t that what it’s all about? :)
Each team will need:
- One printout of the Build your own Scrum worksheet
- Construction Paper (for use as the background)
- Scotch Tape
- Glue Stick
- Markers (not essential, but my teams have used them creatively)
I start by breaking the class into groups of 5 to 9 folks (depending on course size). I then hand a Build your own Scrum sheet to each of the teams, explaining that the sheets have everything they need to recreate the workflow. They should cut the elements out from the sheet and glue them down as they see fit. They’re timeboxed to 20 minutes. They’re free to talk to each other, but not the other teams, and while I may be in the room observing, I won’t be helping. I let them know that at the end of the 20 minutes they’ll need to share the work they’ve done with the rest of the class, explaining the workflow in their own words.
Show and Tell
During show and tell I have each of the groups present their work to the rest of the class. This is where you need to be on your game, drawing explanations out of the team, and facilitating others in the class to offer up suggestions or clarification if the team missed something. You of course can also jump in and offer up clarification, but I’ve found that most of the time the individual teams can help each other, which makes it even more powerful.
Ask the team about the impediment icon (if they used it) and how it’s handled. Ask them what they think about the size of the team on the sheet (you’ll noticed something is a bit amiss with the number of members ;). In one case, I had to ask why they drew horns and a tail on the ScrumMaster: “Remember though, in Scrum the ScrumMaster is a servant of the team, not a traditional project manager”. Good stuff.
I’ve been really amazed with how well this exercise works. It gets people participating right off the bat, fosters collaboration, and shows just how intuitive and clear the framework is.
Give it a Try
Download a copy of Build your own Scrum for your next course. While the guide and supporting materials are copyrighted and may not be altered or made in to derivative works, I’ve released the worksheet itself under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. You’re free to use it in a course you’re teaching, even if you’re charging money for said course. I’d love to hear how you’ve used it, and if you have any improvements for the exercise. I just ask that you contact me to request permission before reusing or remixing any of the content into coursework you’d sell.