Full-Day Product Owner Simulation Exercise

This simulation exercise rests on the idea that people learn a lot better by doing something than by talking about it.  My Product Owner classes were getting great reviews, but I really felt like there was something missing compared to my ScrumMaster classes which have a full-day ScrumMaster simulation exercise.  It took a little while to figure it out, but this article describes in detail how I do the simulation for the Product Owner class.  I’m sure it will evolve and get refined from here since I have only used the simulation twice so far.

NOTE: Permission to use this exercise / print associated materials is granted with a simple request: please link to this page on your blog, in a LinkedIn group or Google group, like it on Facebook etc. or write a comment in our comments section!

Pre-requisites: None!  No prior Scrum or Agile knowledge or experience required.

Audience: Product Owners, Business Analysts, Project Managers, Product Managers and other people responsible for business results and who interact with a Scrum team.

Timing: This simulation takes at least 7 classroom hours.  I usually run it from 8:30am to 5:00pm with a one hour lunch break and two 15 minute breaks during the day.

Materials Needed:

  • Coloured pencils and/or coloured markers
  • Black Sharpie fine-point markers
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Scotch tape and/or glue stick
  • Blank white printer paper
  • Pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners
  • Blank white 4×6 and 3×5 note cards
  • Blank white box (e.g. a shirt box from U-Line)
  • Planning Game cards (email me if you want a bunch for free!)

Room Setup: Round tables with 4 to 6 chairs at each table.  Materials distributed to each table.

Agenda (with facilitator’s notes):

  • Lecture: Simulation Overview, Backlog Preparation and Refinement
    The purpose of the overall simulation is to learn to create a good Product Backlog in preparation for a Scrum team’s first Sprint. Review the agenda with participants.
  • Discussion: What Makes a Great Product Vision?
    Ask for the group to brainstorm the qualities of a great product vision.  Ensure that “simplicity”, “urgency”, and “emotion” are all mentioned.
  • Discussion: Choosing a Product for the Simulation
    Give participants four product options (suggested options: “Doggy dating web site”, “iPad app for plastic surgeons”, “POS for food trucks with social features”, or come up with your own app idea).  A table group must agree to one of the options.  They will stick with this product for the remainder of the simulation.  5 minutes to decide (usually takes much less).
  • Part 1: Product Vision
    • Lecture: Innovation Games – Product Box
      Product Box Handout [PDF]
      Talk about the need for a compelling vision as a pre-requisite for high-performance teams, and a way to decide what is in vs. out of a Product Backlog.  Introduce “Product Box” as a way to do market research in an Agile compatible way (collaborative, light documentation, quick).  Talk about the pattern of a product box: front to attract, back to showcase, sides to deal with objections.  Use of online resources / web research is allowed but should not dominate the exercise.
    • Exercise: Building Your Product
      30 minutes, with warnings at 15 minutes and 5 minutes remaining.  Ensure that by 10 minutes in, the group has actually started using the craft supplies and isn’t just talking.
    • Exercise: Presenting Your Product
      5 minutes – give additional time to allow groups to prepare for a trade show (in their market) presentation where other groups (or yourself) will role-play sceptical trade show participants.
    • Discussion: Debrief
  • Part 2: Product Users
    • Lecture: User Categories
      Describe “end users”, “customers” and “admin users” as the three major categories.  Users can be in hierarchies where a general user type may have two or more specific sub-types.
    • Exercise: Identifying Users
      10 minutes.  One user of each main type (end, admin and cust), at least 5 users in total.  More is okay.
    • Lecture: Personas, Usability and Empathy
      Introduce Persona concept (great reference: “The Inmates are Running the Asylum” by Alan Cooper).  Usability as part of Agile, not separate (i.e. “working software”).  Identifying personas as a way to build empathy from the development team to the end users/customers.
  • Part 3: User Stories
    • Handout: User Stories and Splitting
    • Lecture: Writing Effective User Stories
      Use the example “As a Job Seeker, I can upload my resume, so that I get a job.”  Explain the user story template based on the handout.  Emphasize the idea of end user functionality.  Explain user stories as an important tool, but optional part of Scrum.
    • Exercise: Create User Stories
      Goal: 20 user stories for each group’s product, at least two user stories for each type of user, all done in 20 minutes.  User Stories must be written on 3×5 note cards with a 2cm blank area on right side of each card.
    • Discussion: Review User Stories
      Workshop examples from each group.  Ensure that the “benefit” section of each story does not contain a feature.
    • Lecture: Splitting User Stories
      Go through each of the “top” six splitting methods.  Provide simple examples where the group needs help.  E.g. error conditions as an example of splitting by business logic.
    • Exercise: Split Some
      Goal: result in at least 30 user stories, use each of the top six splitting methods at least once, give 15 minutes.
    • Discussion: Review Splitting
  • Part 4: Estimation and Financial Modelling
    • Lecture: Effort, Value and ROI
      Customers and business stakeholders estimate value, Scrum team members estimate effort, and ROI is the calculation of the ration of value over effort.  Discuss examples of ordering based on these ratios, e.g. 8/2 vs. 8/4 and 200/20 vs. 20/2.
    • Handout: The Bucket System
    • Lecture: The Bucket System
      Review process based on handout.
    • Exercise: Estimating Business Value
      10 minutes.  Goal: all user stories get a business value estimate written in the top right-hand corner of the user story card.
    • Discussion: Debrief the Bucket System
    • Handout: The Planning Game
    • Lecture: The Planning Game
    • Exercise: Estimating Effort
      20 minutes. Goal: estimate 3 user stories using the Planning Game.  Use the Bucket System to estimate the remainder with the ones already estimated as the reference points.
    • Discussion: Debrief the Planning Game
    • Handout: Methods of Ordering the Product Backlog
    • Lecture: Ordering a Product Backlog
      Review ROI as a method to order the PBIs.  Reminder that the Product Owner has final authority and can ignore the estimates in deciding on the order.
    • Exercise: Calculating ROI and Ordering
      5 minutes.  Just simple divide-and-conquer calculations of business value divided by effort for all the user stories.
    • Lecture: Simulation Wrap-Up – Where Does This Fit?
      Reminder of the idea of creating an initial Product Backlog that is “good enough” to start the first Sprint.

NOTE: Permission to use this exercise / print associated materials is granted with a simple request: please link to this page on your blog, in a LinkedIn group or Google group, like it on Facebook etc. or write a comment in our comments section!

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Announcing our winter 2012 course schedule

Hi Everyone!

We have delayed announcing our winter 2012 schedule until now because we have been working on a new platform for listing our courses and creating a community environment for people who have taken our courses.  So, without further ado, I would like to offer to you: World Mindware!

Since we are agile ourselves, this site is still very basic.  We have our list of courses and you are able to register for courses.  However, we welcome feedback of all kinds including bug reports, suggestions for improvements or requests for assistance.  Please contact operations@berteigconsulting.com if you have any feedback about the site.

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Upcoming Scrum/Kanban/OpenAgile Seminar in Waterloo – May 4-6

Just a quick note to let people know that there are spots available in the course we are delivering next week in Waterloo. Details can be found here.

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Toronto and Ottawa Courses have Spots Available

Our agile methods seminar with Certified ScrumMaster, OpenAgile Team Member and Kanban next week in Toronto and our Certified ScrumMaster seminar the following week in Ottawa both have spots available. Just a reminder that these seminars are a great choice if you are thinking about getting training, need PDUs for the PMI, or if your organization is struggling with using agile effectively.

Hope to see you at one of these!

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New Certified Scrum Product Owner training in Toronto added to calendar

Due to popular demand, we have added another Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training to our listing of courses.  There is an overwhelming need for well trained Product Owners, and we’re happy to take up the challenge. The next CSPO will happen on January 14 & 15 at our office in Newmarket, just north of Toronto.

During this seminar, our Certified Scrum Trainer will teach participants how to do the fundamental tasks of the Product Owner in the Scrum environment.  The attendees will learn:

  • how to develop a comprehensive Product Backlog
  • competently add value to the Scrum team during the Sprint
  • fully understand how Scrum works and their role within the agile environment

With a maximum class size of five people, this seminar is designed to allow participants to dig deep into the role of the Certified Scrum Product Owner. After completing this course, attendees of this seminar will be able to create and manage a Product Backlog, work with a Scrum Team to create high-quality software, and use the Scrum framework to build and deliver the right software.  Please refer to our website for a course description and to reserve space for yourself or others on your team. http://www.berteigconsulting.com/CSPOCourseDescription

We look forward to adding value to your team!

If you would like more information contact us at sales@berteigconsulting.com

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Quick Note on Scrum Training

We have wrapped up our Summer Special. There are still a few classes scheduled this year that have the discount price, but others have reverted to our normal price. I encourage you to take a look at our course schedule at http://www.berteigconsulting.com/ to see what is still available.

Also, all our future Certified ScrumMaster courses will have a knowledge test as part of the certification process. Please see the Scrum Alliance website for more information at http://www.scrumalliance.org/.

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50% Discount on ScrumMaster Training – Only 59 Spots Left

Our summer special is proving to be very popular!  We started with 100 spots at our 50% discount price of CAD 995.00.  We’re down to 59 spots.  Check out our course listing page – every CSM course we have scheduled in Canada is available at this fantastic price (Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton, Ottawa).

Even without the discount, our course is a better value than many out there.  It’s a three day course instead of the normal two.  This gives you a chance to really dig into the concepts and practices of Scrum and Agile Project Management.  Our course is really designed for project managers, team leads and other managers, instead of being for anyone interested in Scrum.  Of course, if you are interested in a leadership role, but aren’t there yet, you are still welcome to come!

Not only that, we don’t run courses in locations where it is not easy for use to support you after you take the course.  We run our business in Canada, and our consulting and coaching work is there to help you if you want further assistance with doing agile in your organization.  Even if you aren’t in Canada, maybe your organization has a group in Canada or you have professional contacts in Canada – if so, let them know about this fantastic opportunity.

Find our list of scheduled courses here.

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Scrum Training Discount

We know that our Certified ScrumMaster Seminar is already the best value out there: 3 days of intensive training for just $2000 Canadian Dollars (that’s about $1700 USD), with all sorts of great exercises and practical advice, and mind-changing concepts.  However, we also know that if you have attended a CSM course already, you can’t easily justify going to another one.  That’s why we are offering a substantial discount if you are already a Certified ScrumMaster.  If you have gone to any CSM training in the past at any time with any trainer, you can take advantage of a 50% discount to come to our course.  That means attending, refreshing, rejuvenating and getting a great opportunity for just $1000 Canadian Dollars (that’s about $850 USD).

Contact us at sales@berteigconsulting.com if you would like more information.  Applicable to all public courses offered in Canada by Berteig Consulting.  Offer valid for all paid registrations made for classes being held before the end of August 2009.  (Also a great opportunity to visit Canadian relatives, see the CN Tower, or just get away during the summer…)

Here are the classes:

May 13-15, 2009 – Toronto (Markham)

June 3-5, 2009 – Ottawa

July 15-17, 2009 – Waterloo

July 22-24, 2009 – Toronto (Markham)

August 12-14 – Toronto (Markham)

August 26-28 – Ottawa

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