Let's Kill an Agile Project

Other talks and games will teach you how to run a successful Agile project. Only this one will teach you how to ruin an Agile project*. In this game we will break every Agile rule, disregard the manifesto and ignore common sense in the singular pursuit of failure (and fun).

Each of you will be part of an Agile team with a dis-engaged Customer and micro-managing boss. Being Agile, there will be daily stand-ups, planning sessions, retrospectives, and kanban boards but nothing will go as you expect.

* More importantly, this activity will teach you “how” Agile projects can fail and the reason behind many common Agile practices.

Learning Outcomes

You will come away from this game with an understanding of how and why even the best intentioned Agile projects can fail. You will learn to identify causes of failure in your own projects (hopefully before they become problematic).

Most importantly you will learn the importance of customer engagement, team dynamics & morale, supportive environments and adaptability.


During the first 5 minutes, the players will be introduced to the rules of the game, split into teams (7+-2), allocated roles within the team, and some will be given secret agendas.

Assuming a slot of 40 minutes, the game will then be split into 2, timeboxed, sprints of 15 minutes. During this time the teams will;

  1. run a planning session
  2. run a daily stand-up
  3. run a review
  4. run a retrospective

Without giving away too many details and spoiling the fun, some players will be argumentative, some will not communicate. The scrum master(s) will be a manager with their own agenda and the customer will be aloof but fussy about the results. There will be mis-communication and cross-communication and if any team actually delivers a product I will be greatly surprised.

At the end of each iteration and at the end of the game, we point out the specifics of each failure and get the teams to discuss how that impacted on them. We also, as a group, discuss how to identify them early and what opposite behaviors work well.

Note: Depending on the number of players, I have organised for a few colleagues who will be attending to be deputised to help run the game.