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Immersive Agile Learning Experiences – Enabled by Mindset Change


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Do you recognise this scenario? You sit down, pen in hand, excited to learn something new from a day of training. Getting a break from the daily grind is an added bonus and a welcome change of pace.

The instructor arrives (in person or online) and the first slide flashes across the screen… 8 hours and 110 slides later, your bloodshot eyes stare at the clock, counting down the seconds to the next coffee break. The monotony is broken only by the occasional multiple-choice quiz and finally, FINALLY, you receive a certificate, as proof that you’ve survived the day. What did we learn? Who can remember? Did we actually change our mindset? What a waste!

Immersive learning addresses this issue and enables mindset change: it’s about making sure that people actually retain what you’re trying to teach them. The most powerful way to do so; make learning fun, tangible and real.

WHAT

Learning works best when it is contextual. That is, when the learner is using it in real world or relevant situations. It’s far easier to teach Scuba diving in the sea and cooking in the kitchen. Why would learning Agile be any different? Immersive learning leans into this premise: learning about Agile ways of working by placing the learner in a simulated agile environment.

Becoming agile is easy to say but hard to do. In Business Agility Consulting and Training, we strive to transform organisations into new ways of working which requires a shift in mindset. Well-designed immersive learning experiences shift mindsets, enabling an effective transition into agility.

WHY

An Agile Simulation immerses the participant in an agile way of working. The participant experiences first-hand the value of autonomous teams that communicate with each other, align towards delivering an outcome and learn from their own performance. The value experienced by the learner is immediate, tangible, and applicable to daily work.

Going through this experience creates a mindset change and leaves participants with a greater working knowledge of Agile, compared to non-immersive training experiences or simply reading a book.

We have seen this time and again when engaging with clients in Agile Simulations such as The Ball Game (managing workflow and iterative delivery), Agile Lego Game (Sprint Simulation) or Party Planning (Agile Fundamentals).

Seeing teams self-organise in the same room, physically or virtually, towards a common goal is magical.
  • Immersive learning increases engagement of the participant – which means what they are learning is more likely to stick. This is because immersive learning is enjoyable and helps people connect the theory with real world application
  • We know that the ability to retain new knowledge depends on the teaching method. If you leave a student to read a book, they might retain 10%. Add a teacher with PowerPoint (like many providers out there!) and the participant might retain 30%. But as we increase engagement by practicing what was learned, retention can rise to as high as 90%. If you want your team to learn something new and for it to actually stick, one of the best ways to do so is through an immersive learning experience.

These simulations and games allow for the participants to live key agile concepts:

  • The power of self-organising teams and autonomy
  • The power of data
  • The importance of retrospectives
  • The importance of best practice sharing
  • The importance of focus on delivery and challenging your mindset.

When the teams move out of the simulation to implementation in their projects, the concepts remain as they have already experienced them first-hand.

HOW

Looking at feedback from clients proves how the immersive experiences changed the way they see Agile.

“I realise we were only doing visual management. I now understand what Agile is really about”, Australian Bank

“A real practical session that I can start applying lessons tomorrow”,
Singapore Bank

“Great way to get our whole team on the same page of what Agile is”, CDO Malaysian Bank

“Insightful exercise. Really made us, as a leadership team, think how we must lead”, CEO Automotive Company in China

The pictures of teams having fun while collaborating, on top of learning new concepts, speak a thousand words.

And the results that the teams had achieved in their projects afterwards are the main reason why we engage the teams in these simulations to live the agile ways of working from the start.

IMMERSIVE LEARNING AT ADAPTOVATE

ADAPTOVATE has designed a number of immersive learning experiences to improve the learning experience of our clients.

The LEGO Game

An example of an immersive learning experience, where the participants explore new ways of working, is building a town out of physical (or virtual) LEGO blocks.

The game is designed in a way that highlights specific learning points in consecutive sprints and creates a strong emotional experience. At the beginning of the game participants start building by using their traditional ways of working and they fail. Typically, that failure creates emotions of anger and frustration.

Participants feel a town is impossible to complete in the number of sprints they have left. This, of course, is part of the game’s design. In the next sprint, with a bit of encouragement, participants start to change their ways of working based on the feedback they receive.

New behaviours increase the effectiveness of teamwork and creative approaches to building emerge, thereby opening up new ways to complete the task. Anger and frustration start to give way to hope.

The last sprint is where the work speeds up with all hands-on deck, new roles and behaviours coming together to finish the town on time and to an agreed quality level. The last sprint proves to be a success. The sense of accomplishment evokes feelings of pride and joy.

The game is about experiencing the basic Agile roles and routines, but it is the emotional roller-coaster that takes you for a ride, enabling deeper reflection and a lasting learning effect.

The Party Planning Game

Planning a party is something most people have experienced in their lives at least once. We use it at ADAPTOVATE to introduce Fundamental Agile concepts like: backlog creation, ceremonies and roles. It works because it is something people can relate to.

Changing mindsets is only possible if the learner believes in the value that is being generated by changing their ways of working. By seeing a familiar scenario improved, such as the sometimes-painful process of planning a party, the value of the learnings is proven and a new mindset is adopted.

To kick off the game we set the scene to engage the participants on a party that needs to be planned. It could be any kind: birthday, wedding, etc. The characters, date and general concept are introduced in a fun and creative way to engage the participants as they work in agile teams.

Then we guide them through a process of backlog creation. As more agile theory is introduced, each ceremony or role is contextualised with practical activities. During the session we also throw in a few complications to keep the learners engaged throughout the three iterations.

Finally, the party is planned, and participants will always remember how to create an initial backlog, what happens during the different ceremonies and what ‘test and learn’ is all about.

Our ADAPTOVATORs all agree:
In an agile learning experience, choosing a subject that people could relate to, like a wedding, makes it easier to have the focus on the agile concepts” – Laura Scott ADAPTOVATE Project Lead

And so do the clients:
Really enjoyed the workshop today. It was informative, practical, and fun! I certainly learned a lot today” – CEO (Post Party Planning Session)

WHAT’S NEXT

Business Agility Consulting and Training Practice at ADAPTOVATE wants to bring valuable experiences to the client to enable a mindset change when adopting Agile. We have a portfolio of Immersive Learning Experiences, with more being created as we speak. So, keep tuning in for what is coming next at ADAPTOVATE.

If you would like your and your team’s Agile learning journey to stick, then reach out to us at ADAPTOVATE.

Co-Authors:
Karen Chan – Senior Consultant, Canada
Jeffrey von Drehnen – Senior Consultant, Australia
Aga Gasperini – Consultant, Poland
Erika Gonzalez – Consultant, Singapore
Lisa Markussen – Associate, Singapore

Contributors:
Slav Koziol – Project Lead Europe
Paul McNamara – Partner and Managing Director
Laura Scott – Project Lead Australia


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