Drawing Carousel at Agile2006

The drawing carousel Marc and I ran at agile2006 did not run as expected (in a good way) I called Vera Peeters, who originally designed the workshop, to tell her how it went. So far every drawing carousel we have ran is interestingly different in some way, we are puzzling on causes, so we can get more people to experience the flow resulting from promiscuously pairing in short episodes.

We had a somewhat smallish audience, so we assembled one team. Team dynamics were great. After strictly facilitating iteration reviews and standup meetings the team started to self-organise these. The team started to quickly decide pair rotation, and many decisions were taken through osmosis – as pairs rotated, information was spread around, so not everything needed to be discussed at the reflection and standup meetings.

One of those things, as we discovered during the session debrief, was that the team did not deliver a drawing, but more of a collage made of cutouts. We asked how that had happened, because we had been present at all of the iteration reflections and standups, and we were still surprised by the result. Cutting was not mentioned during the meetings (or at least, we did not notice…). The team said consensus on cutting was reached within the first three iterations, solely through pairing.

The team also asked difficult questions before the first iteration (I won’t mention the questions here, as that may spoil a future run…). Having one or more experienced testers, who are skilled in looking for holes and asking critical questions, in the team present at the first planning meeting helped in preventing rework early on.

The team had gotten into the zone / flow, where the team operated as one.

Factors that may have contributed to this:

  • good mix of experienced agilista’s and ‘newbies’ – getting the ‘innocent newbie questions’ often expose holes in product and process – it also makes the debriefs easier to facilitate, as what happens in the simulation is,through the questions, easier to tie to real life
  • Running it with only one team gave Marc and me ample time to discuss facilitation strategies during the drawing episodes. We were also able to pick up more keys from observation.
  • Lynne Azpeitia was in the room as well, mostly observing, that gave us even more information to steer the session.
  • There was no competion on resources with other teams (if there are more teams, the limited number of scissors, glue sticks and sticky tape rolls leads to resource competition and wait times – teams are not allowed to change tools while drawing, only after the standup and before restarting drawing.).

In hindsight, I did get a key for the team making cutouts. At one point, the team ran out of scissors. We had about five pairs, and four scissors… If they were mainly drawing, they would not need that many scissor.
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pair drawing

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switched pairs
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drawing and cutting a prototype

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standup with list of tasks on the flipchart in the background

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Editing the task list

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drawing signed with business cards (some business cards were created on the spot with mini-index cards)

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The team proudly presents their result

See also Other entries about drawing carousel, mainly photos from previous runs.

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