Why does Minecraft make the APS course so awesome?
I started teaching the APS (Applying Professional Scrum) course about twelve (12) years ago and added Minecraft last year to boost participation and complexity.
The context for complexity in a classroom.
Before Minecraft, I used to use an animal website as a case study for the course.
We’d break people up into teams, and as part of their application of scrum, they would need to pick an animal mascot and build a website in alignment with the tasks and criteria agreed at the start of the course.
Twelve years ago, this was kind of hard.
It was complex. Not everyone on the team had website development skills, the classrooms we used didn’t have great internet connectivity, and since many of the delegates had never worked together, it was a great simulation for complexity.
It was a great way to demonstrate what it feels like to walk into a new team environment that has several technical and organizational restraints.
Fast forward to 2023 and building a small animal mascot website is no longer hard or complex.
A single member of the team can put the site together in 5 minutes using WIX or any other drag-and-drop website builder.
So, the advances in technology meant that what was previously an awesome experience – learning how to use scrum in a complex environment – just became a boring experience that failed to challenge people in any meaningful way.
It meant that people didn’t experience any discomfort, initially, and couldn’t therefore see how the application of scrum was a game-changer.
A challenging environment to embed the application of Scrum.
Using Minecraft in the APS course brought all the necessary complexity, stress, and challenge to the environment and ratcheted up the intensity of the experience.
There are two primary ways in which the use of Minecraft really helps.
For each person on the course, the time box and sprint goals that incorporate Minecraft create an environment that is filled with pressure, complexity, and discomfort.
People are in a complex situation and they have a complex problem to solve within a short period of time. They need to self-organize around solving the problem, and they need to work effectively if they are going to solve the problem within the limited time available to them.
At the end of the sprint, groups of people can examine how effectively they solved the problem, they can observe how relationships within the team dynamic impacted their capability, and they can assess the quality of the solutions they created.
It provides a valuable and relevant feedback loop.
In the case of the animal mascot website that we used to do, only a certain amount of people had website development capabilities and so many of the participants on the team would be watching the developer build the product and have limited input or involvement.
Sure, they worked as a team, and it required a contribution from everyone on the team, but with Minecraft, we have deep engagement and contribution from every single member on the team.
Nobody is sitting around telling someone else what to do, they are instead engaged and actively navigating complexity – in alignment with their team’s goals and objectives – just as they would be in a scrum team.
So, because it’s Minecraft, everybody can now participate.
It doesn’t matter what skill level you have, within 30 minutes you can figure out how to create and contribute value to the team. It isn’t so hard that you are afraid to tinker nor is it so easy that you aren’t challenged by the experience.
It’s the perfect platform to help promote interaction, engagement, and fun.
If you’re looking to learn how to effectively apply scrum, as an individual or as a team, visit our Applying Professional Scrum (APS) course page.
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