XP Days France 2008 part 3 – Space Game

Real Options, l’ultime frontière

The last session of the day was our first run of the Real Options Space Game in French. The little skit Portia and I did at the day’s opening must have worked because a lot of people came to the session. This time we had a larger room than the previous session, but still not enough room to seat everybody comfortably. At the previous session at Agile North, we had 28 participants. This time we had about double that number.

Real Options session packed with people

We started off with a brief presentation on Real Options. We then explained the rules to the participants, grouped in about 7 teams. Participants first had to plan their route across the game galaxy, using very limited funds. Then, in several rounds, they made their moves from planet to planet. To keep the game manageable, one representative of each team came to sit at the game table. This way, we didn’t have to deal with the whole audience, but only one participant per group. Unfortunately, keeping this large an audience to the game timeboxes proved to be too difficult. Switching between game and reflection was also very difficult. You try to quieten 50-60 players engrossed in the game, trying to win.

After the Agile North session, Portia and I held a retrospective and improved the game. With the changes, we were confident that we could host the game for +/- 30 people. Unfortunately, the changes were not enough to comfortably deal with double that number. Waiting for my train home, drinking a beer at the Gare du Nord I thought of some ways to deal with this large a group. Too late. L’esprit de l’escalier is alive and well.

We will write up the session and publish the game materials, like for the XP Game, so that you can play this game at home and at work.

Despite the noisy and crowded session, the participants did get the message of the session. The groups did a short retrospective at the end, with generally favourable feedback and some ideas for improvement.

The space Game board before the start

Closing drinks

The conference closed. The turnout was a success: participants got good value for their money, lots of contacts were made. Dealing with unexpectedly large numbers of participants proved difficult. The organizers of XP Days France and Benelux will collaborate on ideas to scale sessions.

Portia and I bought a round of drinks and had a bit of time to chat with some participants. My Swiss friends had a bit of interesting news that you’ll hear more about. All too soon we had to leave to catch our trains back to London and Brussels.

XP Days Paris, je t’aime! I had a great time and hope to be back next year. Hope to see you there!

2 comments to XP Days France 2008 part 3 – Space Game

  • Andrew Spencer

    There was a lot of food for thought in this session.

    As a participant, I can confirm the impression that the numbers were a problem. In particular, it was the size of the teams, rather than the number of teams, that was difficult. With such large teams, consensus-building was the biggest challenge, rather than resolving the options-cost problem itself. (I am sorry to say that our team principally learnt how not to do it, on both these fronts.)

    So, one possibility could be to adapt the timing of the decision-making phases to the group size. There’s perhaps a special ajustment factor for the French to be taken into account, as well. 😉

  • […] de gérer les choix auxquels on est confronté au cours d’un projet. Le jeu est décrit sur le blog de Pascal avec des photos. Résumé : Une super conférence, tant pour la qualité des discussions en marge […]