January 24th 2019

MCiT Master Simulation Game in “Agile Methods”

A holistic approach for SCRUM

MCiT Master class 2018 @ Simulation Game in “Agile Methods”
MCiT Master class 2018 @ Simulation Game in “Agile Methods”

Agile Methodologies can be considered state of the art in software development and beyond. The term itself incorporates a certain fascination, which business does not want “the power of moving quickly and easily”?  At the same time, the term appears to be rather fluffy, not thoroughly definable within complex business contexts. Yet many companies feel obliged to “go agile” nowadays:  Increasing system complexities, fast-paced innovation cycles and constantly changing requirements or mere sexiness may stimulate the shift from classic linear approaches to self-organizing inspect & adapt oriented agile teams.  

The master course lecture “Agile Methods” wants to explore the multitude of dimensions of agile by travelling first to its core roots, where it is lived in its purest forms in start-up environments, and then transitions to larger corporation configurations.

Now, what is the magic in agile? What is its holistic nature? What does it differentiate from classic linear approaches like a waterfall, V-Model and cousins? 

Because of its holistic nature, learning agile only from textbooks may not lead to thoroughly understanding its manifold dimensions.  Therefore, students go through a fast-paced Lego-based simulation game to experience Scrum; nowadays the most widely employed agile approach. Scrum defines its own metaphor-based language. It fosters reflection on values and principles. It comes with a toolset of artifacts, ceremonies, sprint cycles, resource estimation techniques, burn-down graphs – those are some of the ingredients of the simulation game, which invite our students to get involved.  

In three time-boxed sprint cycles, restless students simulate what in a real situation may take months to build. The final “Paradise Island Resort” acts not only as a proxy for the “potentially shippable product increment” as agile people name what they produce, but also frequently appears brilliantly witty in its own way.

After debriefing, however, there is little time to rest, the next step is to upscale agile approaches from small teams to the enterprise level. What are the challenges? How to build an own approach?

“Software development is not a rational process. It's a process made by people with feelings with bodies and with thinking. And by putting all those together I can be a more effective software developer.” Kent Beck – Co-author Agile Manifesto