FireDice Portfolio Lab
If you have a portfolio, or you are on a team that is within a portfolio, chances are you either have agonizing and costly multi-day planning meetings to try to plan out work between teams to minimize dependencies and roadblocks, or you don’t do any planning and find yourself experiencing constant changes, challenges and impediments and may not have a good understanding of the near-term goal your team is working toward - sound familiar? If it does, join us to experience “FireDice Portfolio Lab” where multiple concurrent sessions of the “FireDice” game are used to simulate a software development portfolio - participants can experiment during the lab to determine planning activities are too much, which are too little, and hopefully find a combination of activities that are “just right”. “FireDice” is a team simulation that uses dice and cards to challenge teams to determine how to establish team-level WIP limits to promote the flow of work while also maximizing the value of work delivered. In our lab environment, independent teams will come together to form a portfolio, players can choose which planning activities, signaling systems, and feedback loops are necessary to promote the flow of work from the portfolio and maximize the value delivered at the portfolio level. “FireDice Portfolio Lab” allows participants to experiment with several different multi-team agile frameworks (Scaled Agile, Enterprise Service Planning, etc) to assess if the cadence, planning activities, and feedback loops prescribed within a framework are effective for their environment. Participants can also choose to create their own framework or cadence for portfolio planning and then assess its effectiveness. By participating in the lab, participants will learn the intricacies of effective portfolio level planning, and learn how to measure and assess if sufficient planning and feedback mechanisms are in place to promote flow and maximize the value delivered by all teams within the portfolio.
Outline/Structure of the Workshop
“FireDice Portfolio Lab” is an extension of the team-level FireDice game which allows teams to learn how to establish WIP limits to promote flow and also to prioritize work seeking to maximize the value delivered - http://www.theagilefactor.com/fire-dice-the-game/
To create a portfolio environment, a portfolio manager will create a portfolio level backlog consisting of different types of card hands (3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, 3 of a suit, etc) that have different values - a releasable portfolio level product (PI) will consist of several card hands selected by the portfolio manager (hopefully consulting with the development teams, as some products may be easier to deliver than others). The rules of “FireDice” still apply in that teams are penalized for any work that they begin but are not able to complete within the simulation - working within a portfolio, teams are challenged to manage priorities between strategic new features for the portfolio, vs. “regular work” (such as fixing bugs) that each team just needs to do.
Teams will then go through a portfolio planning process to decide how they wish to allocate the work amongst teams, and then the simulation will begin. The “FireDice” game limits the number of rolls in each game, so the challenge is for teams to figure out how to change plans if they run short on work capacity and/or cards whereby they may not be able to support their team level commitments for the portfolio goal. Teams need to figure out what criteria signal the need to reassess plans and also decide how they wish to make portfolio adjustments - should they ask everyone to stop and have a portfolio level meeting, or have people run around and try to make changes / adjustments on the fly. Run time is also limited during each execution of the simulation, so teams that elect to stop working and replan in response to changes will be allocating their valuable work time to plan which could impact their ability to complete the work requested by the portfolio manager. This gets to one of the key learning outcomes of the simulation what kinds of activities, metrics and/or roles allow teams to keep working in some capacity if they detect the need to do some level of replanning during the simulation.
During each execution of the simulation, event cards will reveal different conditions and/or scenarios impacting the portfolio and its teams. Teams can decide if replanning, reprioritization or adjustment is necessary when these events occur and also how to go about any adjustments they wish to enact. Some of the events that occur impact all teams within the portfolio, some events only impact a few teams - so this is an opportunity for participants to explore the pros/cons of establishing decision criteria for when replanning / adjustment is necessary or not.
For teams that are interested, job aids will be provided to facilitate planning and feedback activities in accordance with several of the multi-team agile frameworks - teams can use these to experiment which elements of a framework provide the greatest value and test to see if they can lean out steps of a framework and still be able to deliver.
In the lab environment, we will run the simulation several times - each iteration of the simulation takes 20-30 minutes, for planning and execution. Each execution will be followed by a debrief to identify challenges experienced and then improvement opportunities for the next round.
The lab session will conclude with a master debrief that will link activities from the simulations to real-life portfolio planning & management activities.
== Session Timing - 180 minutes ==
Elapsed Time is shown below:
- 00:00 - 45:00 - Introduce FireDice and single-team “FireDice” so everyone understands the gaming platform
- 45:00 - 60:00 - Explain the portfolio setup and select portfolio managers
- 60:00 - 90:00 - Portfolio Simulation #1 - Planning & Execution
- << BREAK >>
- 90:00 - 105:00 - Simulation #1 Debrief - define improvements for next simulation
- 105:00 - 125:00 - Portfolio Simulation #2 - Planning & Execution (simulation is a bit faster since participants have gone through the pattern)
- 125:00 - 140:00 - Simulation #2 Debrief - define improvements for next simulation
- 140:00 - 160:00 - Portfolio Simulation #3 - Planning & Execution (simulation is a bit faster since participants have gone through the pattern)
- 160:00 - 180:00 - Final Debrief (establish linkages to patterns observed in simulation to real portfolio planning and management activities)
== Workshop Background ==
This is a NEW fully experiential workshop that has grown out of work to apply “FireDice” to simulate observed impediments and challenges in multi-team and/or portfolio planning activities to allow participants to discuss and then experiment with ways to improve their processes.
The lab is intended to allow participants to learn how design and assess a lean portfolio planning & management approach and/or to assess the benefits of applying a multi-team agile framework to improve portfolio management and planning.
- Opportunities to explore patterns and practices for portfolio-level planning
- Learn how to establish triggers for replanning / reprioritization
- Experience the importance of cadence and the trade-offs extended planning sessions which define a significant chunk of work, vs smaller more frequent planning sessions
- Explore the planning and synchronization activities of several multi-team agile frameworks (if desired)
- Gain experience in how to define experiments for process improvement, and then execute, measure, and debrief if those experiments are providing value
- A refresher on tactics to prioritize team-level work by value and how to establish work-in-progress limits to promote flow
- Learn how to track cycle time and use cycle time to make business decisions
People interested in learning about multi-team / portfolio planning and management activities; People interested in exploring if specific activities within multi-team agile frameworks can be eliminated to reduce planning time; People interested in explori