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Logo game - How to build a city in 3 hours? - why innovation!

Alice Yu Yuebo 2 min
How to build a city in 3 hours?
Last week, we facilitated a workshop with 100+ attendees from a large MedTech company, where they constructed several cities from Lego blocks and other materials such as masking tape, water bottles, and whatever else they could find. From these ordinary materials, we ended up with some extremely imaginative cityscapes – and of course it couldn’t have been achieved without adopting an Agile mindset. You’ve no doubt heard the saying ‘Rome wasn't built in a day’. So, how can it even be possible to build a city within 3 hours?
You might be wondering what Agile has to do with building a city. Take the example of the Kangbashi district, the infamous “ghost city” in Ordos, Inner Mongolia. You’ve probably heard the term, “build it and they will come”. 

In this case, they didn’t.
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Source: Wikimedia
The city was built from scratch to house over one million people. However, after 16 years of development and $161 billion of spend, only 200,000 residents had made it their home, and the city is far from thriving.

Why build an entire city from scratch, implementing every detail - before having more feedback on how the citizens are going to use the space? Alongside this real-life example, the visceral and collaborative aspects of using Lego make for a great activity to teach the Agile principles.

Laurent and Roman who designed the whole game explain: "For our workshop, we formed 10 teams, consisting of 10 participants each, with each team member taking on a different role in building the city (architect, construction, city owner etc. ) They had three hours to build an area of a city, following a unique vision, but also including useful features. In the end, teams were also required to integrate all the individual city areas, adding another challenge to an already (potentially) complex process."

"Despite the strict timeline, the participants were pleased by how well they were able to adopt Agile ways of working to build their cities whilst embracing collaboration, creativity and leadership" adds Severine.
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“The teams were very excited and curious to learn about the game. They were quick to understand the owners’ vision (provided by coaches from why innovation!), whilst coming up with their own ideas and contributing to the city”, said Amit Agnihotri, one of our Agile coaches. “We also provided challenges such as rejecting the city based on aesthetics, asking people to go on sick leave while work was in progress, and hidden requirements like connecting to power and other infrastructure.
Our coaches intentionally provided these obstacles to simulate the challenges we all face in our daily work. It provided teams with a chance to observe their own behaviour under “stress” and subsequently use self-organisation to balance individual traits and solve the problem. 

‘The critical factor which has determined the workshop success was a learning framework. We’ve developed an approach to introduce agile principles and values to the participants, embed them into gameplay to experience agile mindset in action and, finally, reflect on the key concepts to get insights. This strong linkage connects all the parts of the workshop together and makes it real learning and transformation, not just having the fun of playing with Lego.’ said Roman Lobus, Senior Agile Coach at why innovation!.

And Lola to conclude: "It's the first time for me to facilitate a game like this for such a large crowd. It went really well and it was amazing to see the level of engagement of the people in the room. I could see they really enjoyed it and had good fun!"

Slava Moskalenko (PST and Agile Coach) observed that “I was the coach of two teams who were constructing the residential area of the city. During the first iteration they learnt that they should regularly ask for my feedback – even if something wasn’t yet complete - and show a little empathy to accommodate for any changes. This, combined with reflecting on their key learnings and committing to improvements, helped them to succeed."
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We also asked the participants for their key takeaways and were happy to find that they grasped the principles of the Agile mindset. Some key points included: 
  • “pulling work” - avoiding over-committing, breaking down features into specific tasks, and deliberately sequencing development of the city’s features
  • seeking validation from the owner as soon as possible - using Lego to create a quick example and get feedback on colour, height, etc.
Want to know more about running our Lego workshop with a large number of participants? Are you keen on learning Agile and Scrum in a fun way to strengthen your teams? Please contact us – we’d be happy to share more. 

The Lego Game was facilitated by Slava, Roman, SeverineAmitLola, and Laurent (from left to right on the picture)! Don’t be shy to connect with them via LinkedIn.
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