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Chefs of Fruit Salad (Scrum Immersion Exercise)

Chefs of Fruit Salad immersion exercise is designed to give the participants a quick shared experience of Scrum sprinting in a domain (food preparation, presentations and delivery) that is familiar to everyone but slightly outside the expertise of many.  This domain requires most individuals to use similar techniques to battle the uncertainty of requirements and implementation details while allowing for great creativity within their skill sets.  In game design it is a leveling of the field of play - making most everyone an beginner, with some deep skills in the recesses of their experiences (hasn't everyone eaten a very decorative fruit salad at a fancy restaurant or conference)?

The exercise as a whole gives the participants an experience of using the Scrum terminology and practices (stand-up meeting, timeboxes, planning, reviews, retrospectives) within a safe environment to learn and play.  Within this safe environment people feel free to create the mental models they will use to think about mapping the concepts of Scrum into their daily lives of software development.  My experience is that this exercise while fun and productive, gives the participants "real-world" concrete examples of a positive example of "doing" Scrum.


My latest incarnation of this exercise was a wonderful experience with a distributed team from Bosnia and the US that had gathered in Chicago to kick-off a Scrum team.  On day one the individuals were behaving very much as individuals on a work group (lots of pleasant introductions and a very little bit of posturing).  This exercise was planed for day two and it was craftily planned to sneak up on the participants and be a surprise.  I introduced the exercise to Bob (Scrum Master) and Rob (Product Owner) in our workshop planning session and they bought into the idea of a shared experience as a learning and team building opportunity.  It took courage for them to agree to allocate more than 3 hours of a 3 day workshop to a game to make a fruit salad.  We could easily have purchased a fruit salad if that was what we wanted.  However these guys had the experience to know that building a team, was the primary goal of this game, and that there was no moratorium on having fun at work.



On day one we introduced the concept of affinity estimates with the Dog Grooming exercise, and then to reinforce the concept allowed the team the opportunity to try affinity estimation within a different domain - chiefs creating a fruit salad.  So the team estimated the effort to prepare each of about 20 different fruits.  While I bit my tongue, trying to hold the secret that they would use those estimates tomorrow.

On day two, after lunch, I gave the group the options to play a game (immersive simulation of Scrum) or continue with the chalk-talk on Scrum and its wonderful benefits to software.  The option was presented as their choice, but I required their group consensus, as it was a risk to me a coach and facilitator of the workshop if they had a poor experience.  This was designed to get the group to buy-in to the exercise, and to give them as a group some level of control of the workshop.  Had they chosen not to play the game, a lot of fruit would have stayed hidden away in a cabinet.  To their credit they engaged quickly, wanting to know the nature of the game, the rules, the boundaries, etc.  The energy level in the room rose by two orders of magnitude in about 20 minutes.

Note the B&W Apple Logo photo copy.


We played the game, the group experienced two sprints, the injection of last minute requirements and surprise dinner guest (Steve Jobs invited Bill Gates).  Over three hours the group designed and presented twice, then experienced iterative & incremental development, accepting change in requirements, evolution of the story with the line workers input and suggestions paramount to the stories ultimate value.




On day three the scrum master and I were chatting during a break, he pointed to a round table (four-top) it had 6 people crowded around 2 computers, people from the Chicago area (some originally from China, India, Africa), some flew in from Bosnia, and all deeply engaged in a conversation on the topic of their newly formed Scrum team's problem domain.  A new team was formed - we felt proud and grateful to have such a diverse group come together and gel in such a short time.



An last minute injected story.
Create a chocolate logo for Bill Gate's who is coming to dinner with Steve.
Note four piece Windows logo in chocolate.



Inspiration for the second sprint's story came from the Apple Fruit Logo but it was Rob (a true Product Owner) that made this suggestion his own.  He created a complete back story for inviting Steve Jobs to the company's offices and needed a center piece for the dinner.  Using a typical picture of Apple's logo he described the user story of creating the center piece.  The fruit salad center pieces above are the pure creation of the teams.  Only Rob had seen the inspirational photo of the Fruit Logo (below).


Inspiration photo:  Apple Fruit Logo
No one was a chef, but I did divide the group into teams with a technique that put the experienced cooks on different teams.  In this domain there were lots of chiefs in the kitchen, the team dynamics to get the tasks done exposed the group to many team building moments of Tuckman's model (forming, storming, norming, preforming).


Release Planning for Fruit Salad

Pictures of various fruits.

Team affinity estimates the work effort for each type of fruit.
Effort includes:  fruit is clean; fruit is selected; bad spot removed; sliced into bite size pieces.

Dialogue on the Definition of Done for a Fruit Salad Sprint.

Split group into multiple teams of 3 - 5 people each.

Introduction to Set Development
Organization needs guarantee of high quality best of breed product.
Selects multiple teams to perform dual development
Collaborates to refine best ideas, and selects one to produce.

Schedule
Release Plan - 30 minutes to size each fruit.

Introduction to Simulation - Planning:  20 minutes

Sprint 1:  30 minutes  (each sim-day: Standup 2 min.; Work time 7 min;  Night 1 min)
Release One Review:  10 minutes

Sprint 2:  30 minutes (each sim-day: Standup 2 min.; Work time 7 min;  Night 1 min)
Release Two Review:  10 minutes

Debrief simulation: 20 minutes.

Working Agreements
Don’t waste Food  (each sprint is independent and complete - no carry over)
No assembly line production
Kitchen Rules:  Safety and Cleanliness are required
Set Development is NOT a competition - it is a collaboration.
Assign one or more Observers (give observer cards and instructions)

Salad Preparation & Assembly
Proportion of various fruits
Color & texture
Size of pieces
Presentation

Review Stand-up Procedure:
Answer 3 questions
 Get in context, share with team to synchronize, plan the day.
Ask for help
Remind each other of the goal

Materials:
Constrain the materials to add challenges; for example one sharp knife per team, cutting boards, serving plates, or bowles.

Knifes
Cutting boards
Plates; bowls; spoons; forks;
Fruit (lots of fruit), some raw, some processed,  Odd items (tomatos, fruit juice, etc.)
Paper towels for clean up


Facilitation is made easy with a great back story - give purpose to the reason to create a fruit salad; add challenges to the back story; introduce whimsy and seemly impossible dinner guest for example.

My Experience:
Teams of 3 people can produce a nice sample fruit salad in the first sprint, therefore a PO will need to have a new story for sprint 2, maybe even two new stories.  Constraining the knives is a useful technique to cause stress and creativity and create some pairing and close cooperation within the teams.  Providing odd items, vegetables, juice, candy, toys, etc. can spark creativity that is beyond the facilitators experience and expectation therefore it is essential to add these items to refresh the experience for the facilitator.


Additional resources:
Credit due to:  Estimation and Release Planning with Fruit Salad by Lyssa Adkins
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