Marissa led us in using Jenga as an analogy for PO/team alignment.

PO Jenga is a short activity (under 15 minutes) that can be done with a team to help them understand the importance of talking and collaborating with the customers.

Instructions: One person will facilitate the session, another person will volunteer to be the PO, and the rest of the group will act as the customers. The PO will be split from the group to work alone while the customers work together. Both groups will compile a list of requirements/features that are important to them for a particular topic. Both groups will also prioritize their list. Topics can be anything the team would like. Examples include: Design a conference, design a perfect work from home experience, best football stadium experience, etc.

The facilitator will kick off the round. A timer can be set for 5-7 minutes. The PO will work separately from the group to compile his list and the customer group will work together on their list. The facilitator ensures that no one is ‘cheating’. The groups can use post-its on a wall to collect their ideas and prioritize them in a list.

When the time is up, the PO will rejoin the group. The facilitator will have the PO read the item at the top of his list. Do the customers have it on their list? If the customers do have it on their list, where does it sit? If it’s in the same spot as the PO’s item, great! If the there is a variance of 2 above or 2 below, the item is ‘safe’. If the item is not in the same position or it’s not within a 2+/- range, then remove the first block. If the item is ‘safe’, the first block remains put. The process is repeated for the second item on the PO’s list. If the item is not ‘safe’, the second block is knocked out. Continue to review the PO’s list until the tower falls.

The Jenga tower can be modified with a labeling system to help identify which block would be next to knock out.

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