Process can be fun…gamification of Agile

When all but the most anal-retentive developers hear the ‘p-word’ (process) they feel immediate dread…that means documentation, time sheets, checklists, project managers….aaaargh!

But process can be fun!

While SVP, Engineering at Thismoment, I was delighted when the team (with a strong background in digital media and social engagement) was open to introducing gamification into their adoption of Agile.

Instead of the usual ‘Teams’, ‘Stories’ and ‘Sprints’, we opted for the terms ‘Guilds’, ‘Quests’ and ‘Raids’.

Each Guild had a name and identity – the Momenteers, Stormchasers, Goodfellas (cross-functional delivery teams) and the Assassins (TechOps.) In addition to the teams, we also had NPCs (non player characters) that included the Lead Architect, CTO, etc. These individuals each play a role that extends beyond any individual Guild. Of course, this also made me the DungeonMaster! Each Guild created a fun logo that was posted above their physical scrum board.

To make sizing and resizing (not to mention completing Quests on time) more rewarding, Guilds earned ‘Loot’. We bought ‘gold’ coins and a dry erase prize wheel from Amazon.


As each story was completed, the Guild was awarded Loot totaling the (resized) story points completed. The story teams divided up the coins (we let them decide how to share the loot; after all they are self organizing).

At the end of the Sprint (typically after the Retrospective), and each person could ‘spend’ their Loot to buy a spin of the wheel and win a prize. The more points, the more spins, the more prizes.

With a limited budget, we kept the prizes small, quirky and fun ($25 Starbucks card, ‘get out of fixing a bug free’ card, $50 Amazon gift card, Thismoment swag, Spin again, Treasure chest to store your loot in, 100 extra coins, etc.)

IMG_6850And there’s more…When we placed the Amazon order for the ‘gold’ coins, they were addressed generically to the company not to an individual. After a couple of days of the package going unclaimed, our office manager sent out an all-San Francisco email asking “Has anyone ordered a unicorn head?” It turned out she had Googled the company who’d sent the package and they also sell unicorn heads! Not wanting to miss such a priceless opportunity, we also bought a unicorn head that is worn during the wheel spinning (often by the CTO!)

The introduction of gaming techniques quickly captured the hearts and minds of Engineering and increased company-wide interest in the Agile process.

While process is often considered boring and stifling, by not taking yourself too seriously you can have fun and get great results!




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s