Scrum Room = Fun Room!

I like to have fun at work. Whether it's just messing around (by changing developers desktops to pictures of the Simpsons) or just focusing on a task, I think software development should be a fun thing and thus, be conducted in a fun atmosphere. After all, if you're not having fun then what's the point?

A few months ago, we shifted things around and finally got a large enough room to setup our projects in what we call the Scrum Room (I like to call it the center of the universe, but that's a little egocentric as it doubles as my office). Unfortunately our environment isn't what I would prefer it to be (a large team room for all members to be co-located) but this isn't bad. A single "War Room" where we hold the daily scrums each morning for each project. I personally grind code, print out burndowns, and keep the ship steered in some direction (the direction changes all the time) here every day but besides holding daily scrums, the area is generally regarded as the "drop by and let's talk about [insert design pattern here]" room.

First off, we have the daily scrum rules posted on the wall for everyone to see and for us to refer to from time to time as people forget. As I mentioned last week, if anyone strays from the rules during the daily scrum, the Scrum Witch lets out a Wilhelm scream (and we don't want that to happen). This wall also holds the burn down charts (created from Team System) of each iteration. I forgot to snap a picture of the entire burndown wall but you can catch one of them here. I'll post later a more detailed breakdown of the burndowns from one project as we're in the 6th month and there's been a lot of great activity and challenges with that project.


Next is the start of daily scrum. This is a Japanese character a friend of mine got and I had to barter with to obtain (I traded a broken iMate Jas Jar for it). He's an alarm clock of sorts and when you press the button on his chest, music starts up and he tells you to wake up (in Japanese of course). Press the "snooze" button again and he tells you "thank you for waking up" (or something like that, my Japanese is non-existent) and the music stops. We would get into the habit of starting this guy up just to get everyone pumped for the day, although I haven't activated him for awhile now.


Now we come to "The Wall". This is a large (about 20ft wide) wall in my office that houses 3 projects and their tasks. Each project has a 8-10ft section of the wall and we print out the splash screen for each project to identify it (of course the splash screen is the first thing done for the project, screw the requirements, we need a cool logo!).

Under each project contains 3 sections with tasks. One for "Not Started", one for "In Progress", and one for "Done". The "In Progress" section is broken down with a small post-it showing 0% - 100% which is the completeness of the task. Under the "Not Started" section we break down tasks in an organized fashion so it's easier to find them when you're grabbing a task during your 5 minutes of fame at the morning scrum. Each team groups the tasks differently. One team has it defined by role (BA, QA, Dev, etc.), another has it defined by a feature, still another uses a line of business to collect tasks. Whatever works for each team is fine.

It's the usual routine for task boards (in our case the entire wall is the board). Tasks move from the "Not Started" area to 0% in the "In Progress" area. As team members work on tasks, they move across the wall to 100% then drop into the "Done" area. It really does give a quick overview of where things are at. It's the easiest way to describe and display progress and the entire state of the iteration for anyone looking at it. This is how much we have to do, this is how much we've done. Highly effective and easy to understand.


The banner at the top of the wall is labeled "The New Goodness" and was a phrase someone has mentioned awhile back (more than likely it was over a few shooters at the bar, but that's okay too). We liked it as it represented the new approach to software delivery (agile vs. waterfall) and seemed to reflect the atmosphere we wanted to take. Something new and something good. Sure the grammar is off but again, we're focused on fun here not English. The development manager also printed out a picture of a traditional rugby scrum so we felt it was appropriate for the wall (and some mornings it feels like this).


There's a section over my desk where we've got some fun and motivational type stuff. A printout of a cartoon that Hugh MacLeod created (I'm not cool enough like Scoble to have a hand signed lithograph) that is a bit of a motto when you're in my office. We have the Scrum cartoon about the chicken and pig wanting to open a restaurant, courtesy of Implementing Scrum. Finally, there's the fish. This will take a little explaining.


This fish is the award the team member gets for breaking the build. Originally we were thinking about bringing in a real (ala taxidermy) fish. The dev manager has 3 of these so we would pass out the fish and the team member who broke the build gets to display the fish on his desk all day. This wasn't quite practical (and we felt we would run out of fish and then what! Goats? Sheep? Cats?) so he hunted down a goofy picture of a kid holding a fish. If you break the build, he emails the fish to you and prints out a copy for you to pin up in your cube.

Today we discovered some people were actually collecting their fish so maybe we'll have a contest at the end of the project as to who gathered the most fish. The idea is to spice up your team with ideas and promote fun within the team even when they do something bad like breaking the build.


Well, that's the whirlwind tour of our Scrum Room. It doesn't have to be a stuffy board room or a boring task board, and if you're going to live in it every day (like I do) make it enjoyable!

The message here is to have fun with your projects. Don't get so stressed out. So what, you lost a resource or two. So what, the requirements changed a day before you were supposed to deliver that feature.

Breathe, relax, pick up, and carry on. It's just software.


  • The fish concept is too rich to ban from any agile environment. Any chance you can share the fish photo?

  • Great! It would be good to do work in a firm that took this kind of attitude. Where I'm located at present, we don't even have any windows...

  • Very nice,

    We use MOSS to blog our 3 items though (Yesterday, Today and Issues/impediments) and then we throw them on a screen in our scrum room (also my office).

    This keeps a neat history of the progress of the project in a well understood format that everyone subscribe to and read in Outlook, etc.

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