At DeepAgile in Boston, I played Yellow Brick Road: Fresh InsightsThrough Peer Coaching. The game was led by it’s inventor – Portia Tung who did a great job even with a very large group. If you haven’t played this, I suggest you make the time. The game teaches people skills and resources to be effective coaches by practicing with peers. In the game, people take turns in one of 3 roles: Client (with a problem), Coach, and Observer.

Solve real problems

In the role of Client/Dorothy, you get to be yourself and bring up a problem that you want to work on. Over several iterations, new perspectives help you access the resources you already have. So a cool side-effect of this game is that you get fresh insights into whatever problem you want to work on.

Coach practices questions

The coach gets to practice listening and asking questions. We discovered that listening is something we need to practice since we are so used to jumping in with our expert opinion and solutions. We also get practice with different types of questions (image by Portia Tung):

Observer provides depth

The observer roles gives you a chance to step back from the situation and really notice what is going on. Portia’s picture captures the simplicity of the task: I was reminded that observation is a very helpful debugging technique. It is also less than easy – especially if you are like most of us and out of practice. As the observer, I was able to get much deeper insights.

Go play this game

I am going to play this game again for myself and to help those I am coaching. The complete game instructions and presentation is available for download, so give it a go! I’m sure you will get value out of it. Even better, get Portia to come play with you so you can see some of the finer points. (This is part of a series on DeepAgile 2010 Games Weekend).