Incremental Play

Incremental Change, Working Product

In our recent trip to New Zealand we stayed with a friend in Wellington who has two children near my girl’s ages.  They had a lovely train set which my girls loved.  However the first couple of times they set up the train set they mostly built it in a straight line and then got frustrated when they couldn’t make it loop back on itself and complete the track.

I watched this a couple of times and then, as daddy is an engineer, I landed up helping them build the track one morning.

The key problem is that there are a number of pieces in the set, but it isn’t clear what configurations are supported in order to ensure a closed track.  So I thought I’d try Scrum to solve the problem.

Short iterations

I did not timebox.  That would have been far too geeky.  But we did start by making the simplest possible thing that would work as a closed track.  That was a 4 piece circle.

Working product

I demonstrated this to my stakeholders / product owner (my children) but they weren’t too impressed with my track.  So we iterated – and built it out.  And built it out some more.

Each time we expanded by breaking the track, but fixed it quickly by doing the least work required to create a better, larger, cooler track.


Each time we had a working track the girls would drive the trains along the tracks and test out the ideas and make suggestions for what needed to be included.  The tunnel, the bridge, more side tracks, etc.

Scrum Works!?!

By keeping the track functional as much as possible the girls were able to play at quick, regular intervals all through the process – on many different tracks.  By doing the simplest thing possible we could expand it, inspect and adapt and have a closed working track that maximised the use of all the train set by the time we had finished building it out – which was the business goal for my stakeholders / product owner.

It was SO COOL!!!

I might need to try the lego thing now 😉

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