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Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization

Object of Play
Overwhelming backlog lists are paralyzing, making it seemingly impossible to take the first step in conquering accumulated assignments. Not only do these intimidating to-do lists constantly grow, but they lose efficiency as more important tasks are added without any order. How do you know the best place to start conquering this debilitating beast? How can you determine the most productive sequence for the assignments? Fortunately, the innovative Agile and Scrum expert, Mitch Lacey, has developed Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization: a revolutionary technique to manage backlogs. As described in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for Your First Year, this game provides a painless way to prioritize tasks, making your backlog list less daunting and more effective.

Number of Players
5 – 8

Duration of Play
1 hour

How to Play
1. To begin, draw a graph on a large poster or white board.

    • X-axis = “Size.” This charts the complexity of the backlog item
    • Y-axis = “Priority” to designate the urgency of the task. This can be measured by anything the players agree is important, such as ROI or business value.
    • Divide the graph into three vertical sections to help your team organize the assignments based on the amount of effort needed to complete them.

2. Pass out notecards and pens for players to write backlog items on and post on the chart according to their size and complexity.

3. When all participants are finished, look at the arrangement of the notecards and collaborate to rearrange them as needed. The top-left section of the chart will be at the top of your work/product backlog, as they are high priority and low-effort tasks. In contrast, the items in the top-right are high priority and large.

4. When all the notes are in their appropriate places, order them in a to-do list by starting with those in the top-left corner and moving clockwise.

Examine the note cards in the upper right region of the chart. Is there any way to divide these items into more manageable tasks? These smaller assignments may then be separated to different areas depending on their size and priority level. This will make your to-do list less daunting and more efficient.

Play Online

You can instantly play Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization online with as many members as you would like! Clicking on this image will start an “instant play” game at; simply email the game link to your team to invite them to play. In the game, the image to the right will be used as the “game board.” As with the in-person version, this graph measures the size and complexity of tasks. Assignments that players think of are represented by the note card icons found at the upper left corner of the chart. Players simply drag the icons to the game board and describe what they represent. Participants can then edit the placement and description of each notecard, which everyone can view in real time. Use the integrated chat facility and communicate with your players throughout the game to get a better understanding of each move. After the game, the results will be organized in a spread sheet to maximize the benefits of the game.

Key Points
This game gets team members thinking differently about backlog items. Rather than making a scattered list of debilitating tasks, Mitch Lacey Team Prioritization arranges your accumulated undertakings according to the level of priority and effort needed to accomplish them, allowing for productive advancements.

Mitch Lacey describes this game in his book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year.

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Question Balloons

Object of Play
Planning to accept and respond to questions is one of the most difficult parts of running a meeting, a workshop, or a presentation. Will there be enough time for Q&A? Is the audience willing to ask questions? How many questions will they ask? Do I take questions at the end or throughout? How do I know if questions were answered in a useful way?

To address this challenge, the Question Balloons game allows attendees to ‘float’ their questions throughout a meeting or presentation; providing a visual status that helps manage group energy.

Number of Players
4 to 40

Duration of Play
Any length

How to Play

  1. Start by providing a marker and one or two helium-filled balloons to each attendee. The balloons must have strings that will allow the attendees to float the balloons and then retrieve them (from the ceiling, if necessary) when needed.
  2. Ask each attendee to write their questions about the scheduled topic on a balloon and then float the balloon. Only write one question per balloon. It’s okay to save balloons for later. Question Balloons can be floated at any time during the presentation or meeting.
  3. During any free time (pre-meeting, breaks, or lunch), the speaker or leader should walk around and read the Question Balloons, getting a feel for the questions that will arise.
  4. Inform all attendees that they should pop their Question Balloons – loudly – whenever one of their questions is answered sufficiently. This answer might come from meeting materials, slides, a speaker, or a casual conversation. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the session, any remaining Question Balloons will be addressed.
  5. When a question is answered, the corresponding balloon will pop. Some people will jump. That’s okay. The leader/facilitator should acknowledge that we have answered a question and lead applause. Some participants will float new Question Balloons throughout the session. That’s good.
  6. When the content or topic is completed, there will usually be two types of Question Balloons remaining. The first type is informational (When is the product being released? Who wants to share a ride home? How much is that service?). Answer these first. If there is no answer available, assign the question to the responsible party. The second type of question you’ll see is opinion (What is the best approach? How should I handle my customer?). These should be posed to the room. Instruct the person who floated the question to pop their balloon when they received information, from anyone, that will help them move forward.

Question Balloons are very effective for meetings loaded with content, like reviews and status meetings. For organizations that might be too conservative for balloon popping, sticky notes on a wall will also work. We recommend using balloons for special events, not for a weekly status meeting.

Key Points
The Question Balloons game gives power to meeting attendees, control to the facilitator, and feedback to both. It leverages visual and kinesthetic information through balloon floating and popping. It uses the mechanism of elimination to score how many questions get answered. Attendees can see that their questions will be answered. Play Question Balloons when you want to better manage group energy.

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Coriolis Effect

corporate team building


  • One plastic pipe per person
  • One ball (bouncy ball, marble, wooden ball) per team
  • One team handout per team
  • One timer per group, one person on each time needs a timer function on their watch or a timer function on their cell phones (I have found that all groups have at least one person with a stop watch function on their cell phones)

Team Size:

4-15 people per/team


Offers insights into the needs that different team members have for information and detail, how people like to work in either a structured or unstructured approach to problem solving and change, and how quickly and slowly people are willing to move ahead with a plan based on how much they know and understand about the solution.


Each team of 4-6 people will need sufficient space to spread and work independently of the other groups, if it is a nice day I always recommend going outside.

When the teams are established hand each team member one pipe per person and one to three balls per team, additionally hand each team one to two team handout sheets.

Instructions and Facilitator Script:

It is all on the team handouts.

Ensure that each team has a team handout – inform each group that they will have 30 minutes to develop the fastest and most efficient process to reach customer satisfaction and project completion. Following the 30 minutes of project time, you will ask the groups to review and answer the team processing questions on the back of the handout.

If the teams ask you (the facilitator) for clarification be a stickler and say, “everything you need to know is on the team handout; as long as you are following the guidelines set by the handout you are being successful.” This will annoy some people, just stick to the script.

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Coriolis Affect Team Handout.

Equipment: One team sheet, one gutter for each person on your team, 3 bouncy balls, one stopwatch, and a pen

(Do you have everything? Does it work?)

Time: You will have 25 minutes of project time, during the 25 minutes you may make as few and as many attempts as your team wishes.

Directions: Make a human circle then give each person a gutter (one gutter per person).

Hand the bouncy balls to the tallest person in the circle.

Assign a timer for the attempts – the timer is allowed to participate in the activity.

You are ready to begin.

Objective: Move one bouncy ball around the circle using only the gutters and following the guidelines, as quickly as possible.


  • Starting with the tallest person use the gutters (and only the gutters) to transport one bouncy ball to the person to their left then all the way around and back to the tallest person.
  • Try to send the ball through the process as fast as you can, beginning and ending in the tallest persons gutter, here are the constraints;
  • No one’s gutter can be skipped, the ball must pass through all team members gutters
  • Gutters cannot touch each other
  • Gutter per person method – Your own pinkies must be touching each other all the time.
  • You cannot touch any other gutters besides your own
  • People cannot touch the ball as it travels from beginning through the process and back to the beginning.
  • If the ball falls from the gutter, the process must be restarted.

Coriolis Affect Team Processing Questions:

Directions: Choose a volunteer willing to read the questions and write some responses. Discuss as many of these questions as you can with your group in the time allowed. Jot down key responses in the margins. Be honest with yourself and others. Honesty will bring out understanding. Understanding will lead to learning.

Looking back on the activity, consider the idea of Communication.

1. Determine what types of communication took place during the activity.

2. In each of your opinions, which was the most powerful form of communication during the activity? What made them powerful?

3. What were some successful communication moments?

4. At what points were you having difficulty communicating?

5. What might each of you want to remember about communication?

Consider who is on the team & their talents…

1. What were some of the ideas that were generated?

2. How receptive was the group to new and different ideas?

3. How did you add structure to the ideas?

4. What were some of the roles that were proposed for people in this project?

5. Which ideas were seen as unrealistic / realistic? what made those ideas unrealistic / realistic?

6. Describe how the plan was developed and evaluated?

7. Explain the action steps of the project. Describe the results and outcomes of the action steps.

8. How do you feel about what was done? ideas for improvement?

9. What was the key moment in the teams’ success? where did the ideas come from? who was the ideas champions?

10. Where do you feel were the gaps in this project? how did or did you not work to fill those gaps?

If you have Time…

1. How mindful were you of your preferred team role?

2. Describe how that impacted your part in the project.

Michael Cardus is the founder of Create-Learning an experiential based consulting, facilitation, training and coaching organization. Leading to successful results in retention of staff talent, increased satisfaction with work, increased collaboration and information sharing within and between departments, increased accountability of success and failures, increased knowledge transfer, increased trust as well as speed of project completion and decision making of Leaders, Teams and Organizations.