Friday, March 4, 2011

Learning through games

Playing games is a great way to learn something new. It is also a great way to take something that you know intellectually and turn it into something that you feel instinctively. Sometimes you think you are just playing a game, but in reality, you can learn something from everything you try.

My son, Jeffrey, never wanted to learn how to read. He had all the skills for it, he could recognize all the letters and he knew what the sounds of the letters made, but he would never actually sit down and read anything. He said that he couldn’t. That was until we bought the game Kingdom Hearts Re:coded for his Nintendo DS. He really wanted to play and since it is a role playing game, there was a lot of reading needed just to understand what was happening. Initially, he needed to sit with me or his grandma and ask us what most of the words were. As we played more, he started reading more and more of the words on his own. By the time we finished the game he could read anything meant for kids his age.

A few weeks ago, at the Cleveland Agile User’s group, we had a games night. We played a game called “We’re having a party” We had about 35 adults all excited about making invitations for a party that won’t actually happen. We were all rushing seeing how many invitations we could make before the timer ran out, then we were brainstorming about how we could make more invitations next time. While we were having fun, we picked up some important lessons about lean software development, cycle time, and defect prevention.

When you are trying to introduce a new behavior into your team, try to make it into a game.