April 29, 2018

Enhancing Sprint Review With The Speed Boat Game

I often use innovative games as a useful addition for Sprint Reviews. They help clients better understand and thus improve the product. One of my favourite games is the Speed Boat.

The Speed Boat game explores user’s pains and jobs. The heart of the game is a metaphor of a Speed Boat (product). It has anchors: current problems and pains in using the Product that prevent it from moving forward. The stronger the anchor, the higher amount of customer pain, the more anchor slows the boat down.

First - Make A Rehearsal

Create a poster with the game metaphor. You can do it yourself or ask a professional designer to do it for you. Ask the Product Owner to invite users to the Sprint Review in advance. Some of them will not show up so if you expect to have ten users, invite at least fifteen of them. Plan a rehearsal with your team a few days before the Sprint Review. You can take a fake product that everyone knows (f.e. Uber) and show how the game will be played. Agree on who will record information during the actual game at the Sprint Review when users will express their opinions.

Now Play At The Sprint Review

So, your Sprint Review has started and several product users has arrived. Give them stickers markers and let them to sit in a semicircle in front of the Speed Boat poster. Explain the metaphor and give them five minutes to write down all the problems and issues they experience when interacting with the product. Ask users to write down the ideas silently.

Then, facilitate an open discussion and ask users to read their stickers loudly and cluster similar ones. This is the key point of the game. Ask open-ended questions, clarify every tiny detail, and try to understand the meaning of what is written. Dig deeper into customer jobs by consistently asking why.  Show sincere interest. If necessary, make notes on the flip-chart and use stickers. Other Sprint Review guests should stand silently behind the semicircle and listen carefully to what is being said.

How To Make It A Success

I have found several important points that make the Speed Boat game successful. Make sure you address them:

  • Use high-quality materials for the game (stickers, markers, Speed Boat poster).

  • Prepare a thorough facilitation plan.

  • Invite more users than you need as some of them will not arrive.

  • Create a safe space for your guests. Listen to them without interrupting. A good idea to start with an icebreaker.

  • Involve no more than five people at one instance of the game. People will talk about their experience, problems, and they expect facilitator to listen to them carefully. That takes time. If you expect a large number of users, organize several game stations and ask other Scrum Masters to help you.

  • Make sure each station has clients of the same profile or user segment. Otherwise it will be hard for them to cluster stickers because their experience is different.

  • It makes sense to focus on one user profile at a time during the Sprint Review.

Innovative games can help you to understand your customers and create better products. Sprint Review can be an place where the Scrum Team can do a continuous product discovery. Start with the Speed Boat game to identify your customer pains and jobs with your Scrum Team.

Scrum ON!