Better Software magazine has published a new article that I co-authored with David McFadzean called “The Software Development Game.” An HTML version is here: SDG Feature in HTML. (The nicely formatted, but larger PDF version is available here: SDG Feature in PDF.)
David approached me in the summer of 2008 and pitched the idea of co-authoring a piece about using game-like concepts on software development teams. It turned out that David and I had both been influenced by game theory when creating policy and strategy on software development teams, but David had taken it a step further than I had: he had formalized an actual game-like structure on several teams.
It took us a while to write the piece. First of all, we wanted to observe two SDG instances that were newly created, so we took our time. Secondly, we found that the topic is massive. It was very difficult to fit our ideas into a 3000 word article. Also, we wanted to incorporate more ideas from the gamification of work movement into game play. Finally, our ideas had to pass the review of peers that we trusted, and their feedback took time to address and incorporate.
The final result is a very brief introduction to the topic. It is one powerful tool, particularly for self-organizing teams to help determine their own destiny. Instead of being told what to do by a coach, process consultant or manager, a team can use a simple framework to determine their own optimal mix of processes, tools and practices at a particular point in time. The game structure provides visibility on decisions, and can help teams align their technology focus with the visions of leadership.
We hope you find it as interesting as we do, and if you try it out on your own team, let people know how it works for you and your team.