Unlike Monopoly – The Best Scrum Simulation Game for Workshops


I have been teaching Agile workshops since 2007. I have experimented with various games over the years. In 2014 or so I modified the Scrum Simulation game which I do in day 2 of my workshop and found that people got hooked into this.
Some twists this game has makes it a real learning This article is a facilitator guide on how to run this game. I have played this game more than 100 times and always had amazing results.

Name of the Game – Unlike Monopoly – A Scrum Simulation

Length of this game:  3 hours 

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn how to use the Scrum Framework
  2. Learn the power of Timeboxing
  3. That architecture evolves over Sprints.
  4. The power of working increment at the end of every sprint
  5. Experience high-performance teamwork
  6. Learn about how learning about the product in each sprint is essential to build better products
  7. Learn how early  Customer feedback is critical to the success
  8. Learn that even adults can have some fun and draw, paint, dance etc

Supplies needed:

  1. Something for board
  2. Glue sticks
  3. Playdoh
  4. Voting Dots
  5. Crayons
  6. Clear Tape
  7. Scissors
  8. Rubberbands
  9. Any kinds of Arts Supplies


Rules of the game: 

In a flip chart write down the following simple rules for this game:

  1. The game should be unlike Monopoly.  Monopoly is still one of the most sold board games. However, it has its own issues, long gameplay time, a winner in this game takes time etc.
  2. The game should have a clear start and end.
  3. Minimum game time should be 10 minutes at the end of three sprints.
  4. There must movement in the game for the players. For e.g, they could be jumping, running, moving around the table etc.
  5. Each team can come with its theme for the game. For eg. One version of a game they built Woofopoly – a game for dogs
  6. Once we build the game,  people in the workshops including invited guests will play the game for at least 15 minutes.

There are three parts to this game:

Part 1 – Ideation– 1 Hour 10 minutes

Part 2 – Build And Ship – 1.5 hours  Three sprints to get the game ready to ship

Part 3 – Play the game

Part 1:  Ideation –  1  Hour 10 minutes

This part when I have skipped ended up in more mess in the actual sprinting process.

Step 1- Pick a theme – 10 minutes Tell the team that they should pick a theme that can compete on the shelves with Monopoly. Encourage them that first they collect all ideas on sticky notes, and then pick one concept from the list.

Step 2- Product backlog Refresher. – 15 minutes Explain What is a Product Backlog, That each item should be an increment of value ( for e.g.) if they write an item called to build a dice, that is not of value as by just building a dice. Introduce Epics, Theme.

Introduce what is a user story and concept of Acceptance Criteria

Step 3 –  Write backlog items and get some of them ready.  Let the team sit down and write product backlog items – 45 minutes

Given the team time to write some of the stories, have the Product owner in the team order the backlog, and they write acceptance criteria for at least 3 -4 items to start with. One template to use for acceptance criteria is –

  • What does it look like
  • How does it behave
  • What should it not do?

Tell them to capture the discussion around these three questions as acceptance criteria.
Challenge the team if you see stories that do not add an increment of value or look more like tasks. I have them completely restart at times.

Part 2 – Build and Ship 

Setup – In this phase, the teams will build the product in three sprints. Each sprint has 27 minutes.

  1. Sprint planning –   3 minutes
  2. Day 1 – 8 minutes
  3. Daily Scrum – 2 minutes
  4. Day 2 – 8 minutes
  5. Sprint Review – 3 Minutes
  6. Sprint Retro – 3 Minutes

Keep a visual indicator for this.

Also generally playing some lively music during the sprints day 1 and day 2, will keep the energy high, ALso before starting sprints take a break. That way you can go all the way

Giving instructions: Tell them how the time would work. Identify a facilitator in each team and tell them to self-score and tell them to follow all the Scrum Practices they have learned so far. Show them how the big timer works. See timer eg below

Start a timer( google one is good)  for 27 minutes on a big screen

Let the teams start Scrumming. After the first sprint is over, I give a coaching report of what I observed about how the teams did as far as following the process goes. Not more than a minute per team.


Part 3 – Play –  Tell each team to pick a marketing person on the team and do a 30-sec pitch and answer one question – “Why should we play their game”. Once every team has pitched, asked everyone to move to some game and start the timer for 10 minutes. After 3 minutes ask those who played the game their instant feedback to those who built on what they liked about the game and any ideas they see for improvement.

That is it, the simulation ends.  As a coach observe for these things

  1. Did the do their stand up? Did impediments emerge
  2. Did Scrum Master remove impediments
  3. Were they following the Scrum Process, sometimes in the fun they have they forget completely about the main reason for this simulation is to practice Scrum.
  4. Did they create a working at the end of every sprint?



Meetings – From Hell – Part 1

If you take any average size company meetings are a given.

Be definItion ( dictionary.com )

a meeting is an assembly of people, especially the members of a society or committee, for discussion or entertainment
I wish here what it said was something like

  • A meeting is a pointless gathering of employees in a room or phone, where we discuss reasons for why another meeting is to be created
  • A meeting is a place where leaders try to force their agenda on employees so that it looks like they are forcing collaboration
  • A meeting is a gathering of wandering minds who are not sure how to come to decisions and they need someone else in the company to take the risk so that the blame does not come on them

Here are some common dysfunctions of meeting that we all have seen

– Safety Shanker wants to decide if a certain decision is a right thing to do. He wants to make sure he does not get someone later blaming him for the decision he could have taken. So he calls a meeting of all the people he thinks to weigh in on this topic. His goal is simply to make sure that he tells this groups what he is about to do

– Panic Mike finds out that the project schedule has slipped. Instead of going to the team room where work is happening, he calls the entire team to a meeting to get status. His agenda is clear he wants to put pressure on the team so that when the project eventually fails for some reason, mikes boss Clara does not point fingers at him.

This problem of THE MEETING has now become an epidemic. I know people who feel their day was useless if they are not in back to back meetings.

In a typical meeting from hell, there is some sort of conference room, either physical or virtual and more than 8 to 10 people and one person who is  trying to get their agenda through.

Why have we created such organizations where we allow these dysfunctions. Do we really understand the cost we are incurring in meetings and not creating an organization where decisions can be taken without calling a meeting?

What if we create a culture of Collaboration without meetings.

Calling a one-hour meeting of 10 employees is an exceptionally expensive affair. If you were the owner of this company would you tolerate your employees sitting for hours together in meetings?

Collaboration is important but not committees and meetings. The last decade of me leading teams, coaching organizations shed light on some basics

Collaborations are often like a daily standup, huddle. These are more informal and done as needed only. They are also  not done in a conference room

Telling a bunch of people to decide on their own does not work, neither forcing them to decide.

What you need to create in teams is a sense of ownership. They need to own the problem and the solution. They may go wrong many times but they are making decisions quickly. A good measure of understanding an organizational agility is how quickly a new employee gets productive i.e

  • gets a laptop, login credentials
  • Starts to learn from his peers what he or she is supposed to do

Delegate Decisions down. Here is a way to start

  1. Write down for one week all that you do. Write down all the meetings you went to and how you contributed to this meeting
  2. Notice how much of the work you did that week is actually what you were hired to do. How much was a value-add?
  3. Observe what may have happened if you did not to the meeting. I am guessing they may have gone ahead and done something about it.
  4. Last step. Write down all the things you do
    1. Go to the Planning meeting
    2. Weekly Design session.
    3. Cross-team planning.
  5. In the list above mark the ones that are customer facing vs just internal process.
  6. Put a plan to simplify all the work that is an internal process.

Help remove the Meeting Epidemic. Be the change in your organization..