Building High-Performing Organizations Game – a game for Managers, ScrumMasters & Product Owners


Building High-Performing Organizations Game – a game for Managers, ScrumMasters & Product Owners

This game focuses on building high-performance Organizations and explores options for an Organization to understand itself and the current state of the work to bring about real, ongoing change.

Download the game materials here >

Game Style

You use a Portfolio Kanban board as your playing surface. The playing cards are Kanban cards that represent your Product Backlog (Features), plus cards that represent personalities (Personas) as well as challenges (Gremlins) that Organizations must navigate.

Game Tables

Each table will represent one Organization that is trying to improve.
The players on each team will take on the roles of Senior Management, the ScrumMaster, and the Product Owner. Each table starts off with one Scrum team represented and several Managers and may expand through gameplay to additional teams. Anywhere from 4-9 players. Effectively they will compose an Organizational Improvement Team.

Each player receives a role description explaining the character they should play. Real companies have politics and people often have competing agendas – the player sheets are meant to simulate that. *When run at private companies, skip the role cards and just play as yourself.

Play focuses on challenges faced in any modern, medium to large-sized company on a journey to become Agile, such as:

  • Short-term client demands and indecisive executives
  • The belief that if we just demand that teams work harder, they can and will
  • Production support issues
  • Regression problems
  • Fundamental misunderstandings of Agile by the executives
  • Features delivered that don’t satisfy customers

The game is won not by producing the most features, but by delighting customers. Customer happiness is determined by whether or not they pay you for the features you produce.

Players will learn about Portfolio Kanban and Portfolio Management. They will also get an introduction to Systems Thinking and Organizational Improvement. As a result, they will have an introduction as to what it will take to grow their Organization’s performance.


This is a budget-based game: in any round, the players can invest in User Stories, Improvements for their team, or Improvements for all teams. In each round, the Organizational Improvement team will gain access to a growing list of tools (some good, some bad) to help ‘fix’ the problems that come up.

We’d Love Your Feedback

Please let us know your comments and suggestions, so we can consider them for future improvements. And send us a photo of your team playing the game!

Related Reference Links

Map your Kanban wall. This video and accompanying text explain how.

Prosocial bonuses – the alternative to team bonuses that we tried in the game:

More reference material from discussions during gameplay:

Additional References:

About Tasty Cupcakes

This content was originally published on Tasty Cupcakes, a community-run website founded by Michael McCullough and Don McGreal after they presented a series of games at Agile2008 in Toronto. The site’s tagline was “fuel for invention and learning.” After 15 years at, the content has found a new permanent home here at Agile Alliance.

The games, techniques, and approaches presented are here to use and explore. All we ask is that you tell others about us and give us some feedback on the games themselves. All of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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