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Cocktail Factory: balance specialists and generalists in a team

A water serious game about the organization of cross-functional teams

Cet article est également disponible en français.

You’ve made it. You are now officially into the beverage market. “A cocktail deli counter”: that was your pitch to the investors. Customers come in and choose freely the ingredients of their cocktails. Basically like a deli counter, but about cocktails!

Everybody is there for the grand opening day! People are waiting outside. Success is yours… If you can make it!

Welcome into the atmosphere of this water serious game.

Yes, you read it well. It’s a serious game with water.

Can’t wait to discover the game? Jump directly to the end of the article!

Acknowledgement

Many thanks to Alexandre Agostini for coming up with the original concept and for helping to build the first version of the game!

Why and How of the game

This serious game revolves around a team with a given distribution of the skills among its team members. Through different scripts, the participants will see the consequences of several skill distributions in the team. In particular:

  • Only having specialists, highly-skilled but only able to perform a single kind of task
  • Only having generalists, able to perform any task but with a only an average efficiency
  • Mixing specialists and generalists

Any ressemblance to actual software development teams is purely intentional.

The substance

The substance of the game is enacting Mike Cohn’s demonstration that he made in the following article:

Cross Functional Doesn’t Mean Everyone Can Do Everything

Perhaps the most prevalent and persistent myth in agile is that a cross-functional team is one on which each person…

www.mountaingoatsoftware.com

The form

The form of the game is made of the following ingredients:

  • A touch of role-play with a fictional situation and atmosphere
  • Some stress because the game is timed and the cocktail requests are given without a break
  • Some collaboration, in the limit of the rules of the game
  • Some competition when several teams take part in the workshop
  • Water!

Which bounds this workshop to be a lot of fun since, as my daughter taught me:

Water-based games are always fun.

(Water-based games, and anything about pee and poop. Guaranteed effect! Guessing how old is my daughter is up to you.)

Picture gallery

All the stuff is ready before the workshop…
… The bottles are filled with water and colored to make clear whether they represent alcohol or fruit juice…
… The glasses enforcing the skill set of the cocktail cooks — specialists have only one but full glass, while generalists have two half-glasses — , and the glasses to deliver the cocktail requests…
… and finally, the rules of the game and the detail of each round have been printed and cut out. The right picture shows the details of the very first round of the game.
The room is ready! Everything is ready to host up to three Cocktail Factory franchises. The franchises compete with each other.
And this is the souvenir picture of the workshop! Congratulations to everyone!

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