Welcome to the High-Performance Teams Game

High-performance Team Game for Scrum/AgileYour team is working on the World’s Smallest Online Bookstore, a site that provides the best results (just a few) for every search, not every result on earth. We’re a vulture capital funded company, so if we don’t deliver, our funding will be cut.

So begins the opening of the High-Performance Teams Game.

My goal is to help you see the effects of choices/tradeoffs on productivity and team cohesion. While some of the benefits of Agile happen at the individual level, there are many things that affect the relationships between team members, and therefore the overall cohesion and productivity of the team.

The game is played by a team of 5-9 people, in a series of  5-6 rounds. During each round there is a little bit of teamwork, a little bit of discussion of the science, and some game play. Each round represents 6 weeks, or three 2-week sprints. In each round you have budget for the amount of work/stuff you can do based on your team’s capacity. Some of that budget must be spent on delivering features, otherwise the business will threaten to let you go. Some of it should be spent on growing the team and their engineering skills, otherwise you don’t get more budget capacity.

Some of the leading research [1][2] suggests that a key requirement for high performance teams is Cohesion. Cohesion is a measure of the strengths of the relationships between individual team members.

In this session we will use this research to discover:

·      Simple communication patterns we can monitor to spot the health of the team.

·      Simple tools we can use to measure and track those patterns.

·      What effect does the location of the watercooler have? What effect do lunch tables have?

·      Can cohesive teams get you into trouble?

·      The importance of dissent and diversity within teams.

·      Bonuses – the negative effects of individual bonuses are well understood by the Agile community. However, we’re left with the question: Are there good bonuses?

Downloads Available

Game Material (Dropbox folder):


Facilitators Material:


In addition to the game material, I’ve written a paper on the “5 Steps Towards High-Performing Teams”.

Enjoy playing with your team.


Feedback from GOAT (Gatineau Ottawa Agile Tour 2015): During game play at the conference, only the facilitator knew the benefit/effects of each action while the game progressed. As a result, in the 90 minute session some teams had a difficult time keeping track of the calculations. Future editions will reveal all the calculation details on paper to the attendees in the round after they’ve played.

[1] Sandy Pentland – The New Science of Building Great Teams
[2] Ben Waber – People Analytics


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