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January 17, 2017

Simulating Scrum by Building a LEGO City

3 mins read

At the January Games for Agility, Learning, and Engagement (GALE) Meetup, we ran a version of the Scrum Simulation with LEGO described by Alexy Krivitsky.  I’ve used this simulation many times to introduce people to Scrum in an interactive, fast-moving, and team-based way.  It’s also a great wrap-up at the end of training, as it’s interesting how hard it is to remember to apply all the concepts we’ve learned once the clock starts ticking!

How to Play

The simulation kicks off with a Visioning phase lasting approximately 20 minutes.  During this time, I acted as the Product Owner, sharing my vision for the city and providing the team with my product backlog.  The rest of the time was the team’s to use to decide how they wanted to work together and to gather any additional details they needed about the backlog items.


From there we launched into 3 7-minute Sprints, along with 3-minute Sprint Plannings, Sprint Reviews, and Sprint Retrospectives.  During each Sprint, the team delivered as many stories (city elements) as possible, so that we could launch our MVP city by the end of Sprint 3.  They also had to handle some surprise stories that appeared part way through the simulation!


Reflecting on What Happened

Much like a team’s real experience, the simulation feels somewhat chaotic initially, with everyone jumping to start quickly and still trying to figure out the best ways to work together.  Each run through is unique, but there tends to be clear improvement over the second and third Sprints, as teams take advantage of the built-in Sprint Retrospective.

Even more important than the simulation is the debrief that follows, as it allows participants to reflect on what happened and why.

This time, our debrief included topics such as:

  • Early prioritization
  • Backlog refinement / Gathering clear acceptance criteria
  • Splitting larger stories into smaller ones
  • Visualization and the use of mock-ups
  • Asking for quick feedback from the Product Owner (even prior to Sprint Review)
  • Effective use of the retrospective
  • Setting realistic expectations with the Product Owner


Try it Out

Interested in trying it out?  The facilitator’s guide created by Alexy Krivitsky provides a good starting point and plenty of info regarding supplies, set-up, and facilitation.  All you need is a willing group, about 2 hours, and a bunch of LEGO!  You can also easily adapt the Scrum simulation to introduce specific concepts that you may want to reinforce.

If you try it out, please tweet @excellaco and let us know how it worked!  We look forward to hearing about your experiences.

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