I have been teaching agile courses for the last few years, and coaching teams for even longer. Here is a group activity that I have developed to help students understand the Agile Manifesto!

When I start my training courses, I like to gauge the experience in the room, firstly, to help myself as a trainer so that I know how much to focus on “the basics” and secondly to demonstrate to the room that more often than not, we are all in the same boat, with the same level of experience! At McKenna Consultants, our most popular course is our Introduction to Agile training course, where the game that I am about to introduce is particularly useful.

I have tried to do this different ways, such as explaining your agile experience, rating your agile experience from 1 to 10 and also with human affinity maps. With all these ways however, I find that some attendees like to “think that they know it all” whilst others are too polite to be truly honest that they know quite a bit.

I spent a while thinking about how I could improve this experience for myself and my students, and, inspired by Build Your Own Scrum (a tool which I also use when coaching and teaching), I came up with Build Your Own Manifesto.

The rules are simple:

  1. Divide the group into small groups of no more than 3
  2. Give them the Build Your Own Manifesto handout – explain that 4 of the phrases are actually not needed.
  3. Give the groups 15-20 mins to construct what they believe to be the agile manifesto
  4. One group at a time, present back to the room\

I find that this exercise is really useful for a number of reasons:

  • It gets everyone in the room talking and importantly – collaborating!
  • When I facilitate and walk the room, you hear some great discussion like “I thought agile was about not having a plan” or “There is no documentation in the agile world”. I note all of these comments down to tackle throughout the session
  • It clearly demonstrates to me people’s knowledge of agile
  • Helps people to feel in a safe environment when everyone presents back and not a single group has it word for word perfect.

You can download the Build Your Own Manifesto template that I use here.

It is basically the 4 values from the agile manifesto mixed up, with some additional red herrings in there – Instead of is included! This is a bit of fun and tends to provoke some healthy discussion and groans when the teams realise!

Please download and use this idea and let me know what you think, I would love to hear it!