Featureban 2.1 (unplugged)

Last night I ran a small Featureban session (7 people across 2 games) at our local meetup (Spire Digital meetup in Chesterfield, Derbyshire) and I thought it would be fun to do it “unplugged”, without the deck. I decided to capture my preparation in the deck itself so that others could use it; this in turn created an opportunity to make two unrelated changes I had pending (both optional). Let’s start with those.

New: “What would you change”

For this optional addition I’m indebted to Patrick Steyaert and Andy Carmichael.

Featureban already makes the connection between the rules of the game and the “policies” of the Kanban Method practice “Make policies explicit”. Patrick and Andy’s idea was to encourage experimentation with the rules, just as we would encourage real-world policies to evolve in the pursuit of improvement.

Some facilitators have sought to distinguish between policies that are fixed and those that the players are free to experiment with. I have left it more open:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-09-43-59If you’re going to do this, I would recommend introducing it in the middle of Iteration 3 (Metrics).

New: Start tracking in Iteration 2

In the new hidden facilitator’s overview slide for iteration 2 you will find this addition:

  • Optionally:
    • Keep track of “day number”; write the day number on stickies when you start them (leaving existing in-progress stickies as they are)
    • Stop this iteration when when all your in-progress stickies have a day number on them and you’ve completed all the stickies that were still in progress at the end of iteration 1

We did this last night, and I consider it a success. It adds a small overhead to iteration 2 but it is outweighed by the extra sense of objective given to that iteration (flushing out all the old stickies) and its immediate impact to iteration 3. No longer do we need to wait for several rounds in iteration 3 before we start to see items completed with known lead times.


In the deck, each iteration is now preceded by a hidden slide with a facilitator’s overview. I printed these four-to-a-page, the fourth page being a picture of the board (slide 3). You can see them here taped to the back of my board, stiffened with a rigid A3 foam tile I bought from Staples (they’re quite handy – I keep a few of these in my bag to protect my materials). I referred to mine only once but it was good to know that they were there!


As you can see, I also printed the rules page for iteration 1, one copy per team. There is no need to print the rules for later iterations.

It turns out that the picture slide I printed (upper right of the four) doesn’t demonstrate the ideal setup for explaining the rules unplugged. You may have noticed in that the setups used in the deck to explain the rules for heads, tails, and blockers differ slightly. I used this setup instead, which has two stickies owned by me (MB), one of them blocked:


I have now added an updated hidden slide for reference. While I explained the rules, I moved stickies and pretended to write on them (without actually marking them).

A final picture: here’s the histogram we made from the stickies completed in iteration 3:


We sketched a run chart and a CFD also (no pictures, alas), and discussed Little’s Law also.

Further information

Interested in facilitating Featureban yourself? These are the main places to visit:

What if we put agreement on outcomes ahead of solutions?

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