Playing the Chaos Lottery

Session Category :  Talk 
May 26, 2017
10:00  -  10:45

A system’s resilience is tested by stressing it under controlled conditions to find where it will fracture first. Finding where a system is weak before an emergency allows us to prepare & mitigate better. This is true of any system, including an agile team.

We know teams with good habits such as TDD, SOLID principles, pair working, D.o.D., low WIP limits etc. are successful. Intellectually teams know they are a good idea…but… the human brain is a tricky thing, and habits are hard to change.

A GREAT team does these things because its habit. It’s just what they do. Every time.
A GOOD team USUALLY does these things, but there are often reasons they don’t. It’s not a habit.

Showing a ‘good’ team where they need to improve can be difficult. They may even be in denial any improvement is needed…We know people learn best when can they fail without fear.

Enter the Chaos Lottery..1 person in the team wins the Chaos Lottery! For a set time they withdraw from contact with their team, immediately & with no handover.

– If the team practice pair working, they know where the work is up to & finishing off without the lottery winner is no problem.

– If the team check code in often, there is no big chunk of inaccessible work – all but the very last bit is checked in.

– If developers and testers work closely, & the tester was the Chaos Lottery ticket winner, the rest of the team know how to continue with out her/him.

Inspired by NASA astronaut training for solving complex, evolving problems on the fly, the Chaos Lottery is one approach to testing an agile team’s resilience.

This is a story about knowing what you should do, and finding you are still not quite doing it.