January 31, 2015

Counter pessimism

A team that I work with decided one day to improve the general mood in the team. A member of the team (David) bought the Snakes & Ladders board game for the team. By playing the game, his goal was to counter pessimism that was generally flowing within the team. As negative remarks about the project plagued the team, David wanted to end this. This was his way of doing it.

Snakes and Ladders

As the goal of Snakes & Ladders is to be the first to reach the end of the board, the team added a few rules of their own. Team members choose their own pawn (notice Caillou, R2D2 Tintin rocket to the Moon). Each day, every member of the team has to role the dice in order to know how many steps he moves his pawn. If during that day, this team member would show pessimism, he would move backward by rolling the dice again. He could move backward as many times as he was being pessimistic about the project. On the other hand, he could only move forward once on each day.

To confirm a person was being pessimistic, two other team members had to validate the remark. Sarcasms were also considered pessimistic remarks while negative news (Ex: build break, tests failed) were considered facts and not negative remarks. On the other hand, complaining about these negative facts was considered pessimistic, hence rolling a backward move on the board.

Honestly, the rules fitted on an entire page while the other side of the page had rules on how to change the rules.

Who won? The team obviously! Ok, it’s the technical lead of the team who won but chasing away pessimism was the real win in this team.