Bananagrams is a word game wherein lettered tiles are used to spell words. The object of the game is to be the first to complete a word grid after the pool of tiles has been exhausted. Bananagrams uses elements of both Boggle and Scrabble. It’s similar to Boggle in the sense that game play is simultaneous, yet players build interlocking puzzles similar to those in Scrabble. Because Bananagrams can be played by players at any (English) reading level, the game is useful for multicultural teams.
I’m always looking for new ways to teach agile concepts that are engaging, not forced, and just plain fun. I recently found Jumbo Bananagrams. These are the same as regular Bananagrams except that the tiles are super-sized and rubberized. It got me to thinking that there’s got to be a use for them in coaching teams. So without further adieu, here’s my take on using Bananagrams to enable a fun conversation about self-organizing and the principles and practices of mob programming
Number of Players. Using a team-based approach, break the larger group into up to eight teams of four people each.
Duration of Play. The duration will vary based on number and size of teams. For a benchmark, a full game for two teams of one person each takes around 25 minutes.
How to Play (Rules for the real game of Bananagrams)
- Unzip the banana-shaped pouch and dump out all of the tiles onto a flat surface such as the floor or a table. Flip all of the tiles face down, so no letters are visible.
- Group into teams of up to four.
- The number of tiles each team takes is determined by the number of teams playing the game.
- For 2-4 teams, draw 21 tiles each.
- For 5-6 teams, draw 15 tiles each.
- For 7-8 teams, draw 11 tiles each.
- Group the leftover tiles into a middle pile or “bunch”.
- Once all teams have pulled their tiles say, “Split!” This is the signal for everyone to flip over their tiles.
- Each team arranges their tiles into an interlocking crossword. Tiles may connect vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. The goal is to create complete words out of all your tiles. Note: If you have a tile you do not wish to use, you can “dump” unwanted tiles by placing the single tile you are dumping back in the bunch and drawing out three new tiles.
- Once a team had finished making valid words with all of their tiles, someone calls out “Peel!”, at which each team must draw one new tile from the bunch.
- Work in the new tiles. Tiles can be moved, rearranged, rotated, etc.
- Continue playing in this manner until all the tiles in the bunch have been used or the number of tiles left is fewer than the number of teams. At this point the team with a finished crossword, proclaims “Bananas!” and is the winner!
Learning Strategy. Here are approaches to the game that could be taken to help teams learn about mob programming or self-organizing teams.
- Active Learning Approach for Mob Programming Concepts
|After the game, discuss how mob programming principles and practices affected game-play, with the facilitator asking probing questions around each other following mobbing principles and practices.
- Active Learning Approach for Teaching About the Value of Self-Organization
|The facilitator gives no guidance, Just tell them the standard rules of the game and let them start.
|After the game, ask questions of each team to get a readout of how each team organized, why they ended up that way, and the pros/cons of that approach. Realization of the processes of self-organization are the golden nuggets of the discussion.
- Getting Answers to the Standard Retrospective Questions of “What Worked?” and “What Didn’t Work?”
|After the game, each group tells their story to the overall Team. The main ideas behind this approach are that
- Emergent Design. Coming soon!