Scrum simulation games


I am shortly going to be training up 6 teams who are going to start using Scrum for a new project. These are people from the wider business who have never been exposed to Scrum, and are only on this new project for 60% of their time (I know, not ideal, but it is what it is!) Also, this isn’t a software project, but more of an implementation / customisation project.

What I’m after are some ideas for simulating Scrum in the initial training so that these people have a better idea of the events and inputs / outputs that Scrum mandates. Given that this isn’t their full time role, I suspect that my training time will be limited, so I need something that can be done in under ~2 hours.

I’ve come across Pocket-sized principles which I think will be very useful, but any other ideas gratefully accepted



While I’ve never actually tried it, the Lego4Scrum approach looks good, especially to give non-techies in the team the feeling of building / developing a product.

They also offer a scaled version should you need your 6 teams to be working together.


I love both of those exercises. Use both in my training classes all the time. Others that I’ve enjoyed using for brand new teams are:


Not scrum specific, but scrum team helpful:


I’ve seen the paper plane game used quite well.

5 rounds and 30 sec planning, 2 minute sprint, 30 sec review, 30 sec retro.

A4 sheets are placed on each table and some “airports” are set on the floor. The ac for the planes are set. The planes have to reach the wall from the airport and must be initialed by each person in the team.

Round 1
Teams are instructed they must make paper planes with A5 pieces of paper (so clearly the A4 needs be ripped in half)
Each team member is only able to make a single fold and then pass it to the next person.
There is a designated “tester” that has to throw the planes.
Round begins and runs it’s course. the teams reveal the number of planes at review.

Round 2
Repeat the process and look for gains. You may want to remove the dedicated tester role at this step.

Round 3
The teams ask some questions (such as Why do we do one fold only?)
The teams are told anyone can test, anyone can fold as much as they like (We did it the other way, because that’s the way it has always been done)
Still need the initials as they were used to show the team was owning the quality
The review happens as before.

Round 4
Repeats round 3, the quantity/quality of planes should increase.

Round 5
"We are happy with the consistent quality the new work processes are producing, we will lift the limitation of the initials as it would appear wasteful."
Let them loose and watch the number of planes jump.

Get the teams to reflect on how the process improved quality and quantity


We have now 2 times done this and could recommend to try it out. First for 16 and second to 10 people.

We slightley changed the setup. We clearly separated the PO and Trainer/SM roles to 2 different persons, extended the actual sprint time boxes a little bit and added 1 retrospective half way of the exercise.

If anyway possible, I would recommend to find a safe envireoment to try this out the first time. The setup for the first session took us guite long and it has helped to finetune as our both sessions were organized in-house.

What I like best about it that in a really short time it helps to show the benefits of inspect & adapt and good team work


Lego for scrum is great. I’d definitely go with it. Also a good way to explore feature teams vs component teams


Thanks everyone for all the useful suggestions. I’m going to opt for the Paper Plane Game, partly because of cost, but mainly because of time constraints - I only have a few hours to introduce Scrum to a group a people that have never heard of it but are being expected to work within it’s framework.

@bradstokes, a question I have is what happens to the partly made planes at the end of each round? Do you discard them or roll them over to the next round? (Rolling them over is like not completing all your stories and taking them into the next sprint, with an associated increase in velocity, which is often what happens )


I found that in the first couple of rounds the planes the planes were pretty terrible, the rolling effect didn’t happen so much. And people will push to “Finish” everything.


Hi everyone, this is my first post (will also jump into the introduction thread in a bit), but this has caught my attention, as in my role of Scrum and Agile trainer I am also doing exercises and games with my classes a lot (people from various backgrounds, in Germany). I have played the Lego4Scrum simulation quite a few times now, and the outcome and levels of engagement are always a bit different, so I can also recommend that. Ballpoint Game as well. Some extraordinary out of the box thinking and teambuilding can happen in those, and it feels like a privilege to be allowed to observe them. What I also like about both these exercises is that people tend to play out their personal strengths, and as long as it helps the group grow, I think that’s a great thing, as uniformity is boring after all…

I like the paper plane suggestion in this thread, especially the part where you realize you have just been doing things the old way without questioning it, although I was wondering how much paper plane building skills that requires? What if people feel uncomfortable folding paper planes or have little experience with it (such as me?)

As for my own sessions, I use the exercise White Elephant Sizing for giving people a feeling for relative sizing and estimation (with household chores and starting with S-M-L columns, later for more granularity also XS and XL; I introduce Fibonacci only later for Lego4Scrum); and I use Hopes & Concerns as well as a Pre-Mortem format for demonstrating some Retrospective formats. What are my own hopes & concerns for this workshop / if applicable for my upcoming certification exam / for applying Agile approaches in my actual environment? If for the workshop, it can be done twice, once in the beginning and later revisited. For Pre-Mortem I use Brexit as a project that we assumed has been finished and has failed, two years from now :wink: What could possibly have gone wrong? For bigger groups this can be done once from the EU and once from the UK perspective. Leaving politics out of it, we’re not asking whether it’s right or wrong, we’re just doing worst case scenario risk evaluation, and it always leads to very interesting discussions.

I have used the Spaghetti & Marshmallow Challenge, but one caveat for me was the fact that it seemed like a waste of food, as in, you don’t play with food, you know. Huge amounts of Spaghetti were thrown in the trash before I could collect them again, and that felt bad. How do you guys deal with that?

Another observation of mine is that doing so many things with a class plus teaching them also the theory and basics can be tiresome for them. I’ve found that they need also a fair amount of breaks where they can discuss and breathe a bit. Plus exercises with real-life projects they’re working on. When they can discuss the upsides and potential challenges of using Agile practices for them, some powerful conversations potentially develop. This depends also a bit on whether the focus of a training is certification preparation or simply familiarizing with new tools & techniques / introduction to the world of Agile thinking… In some cases I’m still on a journey to find the right rhythm here myself.


One more game I like to play and that could fit with the circumstances described in the original post:
Agile Battleships
This one’s really simple. One Waterfall, one Agile team, the first one places all 40 shots in one go, the second one places 10 shots in 4 iterations, with hits being uncovered after each. The Agile team often wins, but not always ^^


@AnLeBe The battleship URL you supplied is something I’ve been using for my courses for a few years already - it provides a very powerful message about the importance of early feedback. Yes I’ve had it where the Waterfall one seems better, but it doesn’t happen very often!


Everyone says that at first, but there is always someone who can share the knowledge. By the end of the first round they forget about it. Also you can use it to show how to apply continuous improvement to a process.


So I’ve presented my Scrum course to 6 finance people who had never heard of Scrum / Kanban / Agile / Waterfall before. Two minutes into my talk I looked around and saw many blank faces, but after a few activities and further Scrum talk, I was getting some very relevant questions. I ended with a Scrum simulation via the Paper Plane game and I had them kneeling on the floor frantically folding and making paper aeroplanes. Some very competitive finance people! My one regret is that I only remembered that I should have taken some photos when it was all over :roll_eyes:

Thanks to all who contributed to my initial question.