AoAD2 Practice: The Planning Game

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.

The Planning Game

Audience
Whole Team

Our plans take advantage of both business and development expertise.

You may know what you want to release, but how do you actually construct a step-by-step plan? That’s where the planning game comes in.

Despite the name, the planning game isn’t a trivial piece of entertainment. In economics, a “game” refers to a situation where “players select actions and the payoff depends on the actions of all players.”1 That’s what the planning game is. It’s a cooperative game designed to create the best possible payoff.

1This definition of “game” comes from Deardoff’s Glossary of International Economics: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~alandear/glossary/g.html#game

The planning game is notable for the way it maximizes the amount of information contributed to your plan. It’s strikingly effective. Although the planning game has limitations, if you work within them, I know of no better way to decide the details of your plan.

Allies
Stories
Purpose
Visual Planning

The planning game is just one part of your overall planning process. It’s a way of breaking valuable, releasable increments into smaller stories. At the end of the planning game, you’ll have a set of stories that are “just right” for development. To recap:

  1. Purpose provides the overall goal and current direction.

  2. Visual Planning identifies options for valuable increments.

  3. The Planning Game provides the step-by-step plan you’ll use to develop each increment.

...to continue reading, buy the book!

In this Section

  1. The Planning Game
    1. Cargo Cult: Planning Day
    2. How to Play
      1. 1. Customers decide the scope of the plan
      2. 2. The whole team brainstorms stories
      3. 3. Developers size the stories
      4. 4. Customers prioritize the stories
      5. 5. Repeat until the plan is complete
    3. Keep Your Options Open
    4. How to Win the Planning Game
    5. Prioritizing Development Decisions
    6. Facing Reality
    7. Iterating the Planning Game
    8. Questions
    9. Prerequisites
    10. Indicators
    11. Alternatives and Experiments

Discuss the book on the AoAD2 mailing list or Discord server. Or come to the weekly book club!

For more excerpts from the book, see the Second Edition home page.

If you liked this entry, check out my best writing and presentations, and consider subscribing to updates by email or RSS.