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Play Agile Airplane

Play Agile Airplane
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What is it?

A game of making paper airplanes.

Why do it?

To demonstrate the power of a timebox or Sprint – the foundational element that forms the cadence of an agile framework (like Scrum).

Time Needed

30 minutes

Number of Participants

At least 2 teams, consisting of 6 people per team

Supplies Needed

  1. Used printer paper (50 pages) per team
  2. A flip chart and marker to keep score
  3. Measuring tape
  4. Masking tape to mark the distance

Process Steps

The goal of the game is for each team to create as many high quality (tested) paper planes that can fly a distance of at least 30 feet.

  1. Each iteration last 9 minutes:
    • 3 minutes for planning
    • 3 minutes for actual building (and testing)
    • 3 minutes for reviewing/retrospective
  2. After the first planning iteration, each team should give an estimate of how many planes they are going to build, test, and fly before the timebox starts. Document this estimate on the flip chart.
  3. Build as many paper planes as you can in the 3-minute build timebox.
  4. Take score by subtracting the final count of planes that actually flew the distance from the planes that were not yet tested or completed. 
    • Example: Team A said they will complete 4 planes. 7 planes flew the distance but 5 more were WIP (work in progress that hadn’t completed being built or tested). Subtract the WIP so the actual is 7-5 = 2.
  5. During the retrospective, teams must come up with one idea of improvement.
  6. Repeat these steps 2-3 more times, depending on the time available.

Rules for Playing

  1. Only one player can make one fold at a time.
  2. The planes must be built and tested within the 3-minute timebox.
  3. Only planes that fly the 30 feet distance will be counted.
  4. Have one member in the team be the counter.
  5. The front of the plane should be blunt to avoid injury to the team members.
  6. You cannot crush the plane into a ball and throw it.


Each table talks about what helped them improve over the three iterations:

  • Talk about what would have happened if the timebox was not there
  • Talk about how waterfall may be different from this
  • Talk about who made the final design decisions in the team
  • Talk about any wastes they removed from the system that helped them get better

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