PLAY Introduction

Building is the fun part! After planning, it is now time to pull out your tools and start building. This is where we start seeing the vision come to life. This play can be ran for any type of project, not just software development. Adapt it for your specific project needs.


2-10 is the ideal team size. If it becomes larger than 10 people consider breaking out into smaller teams.


Varies. See timeboxing activity below


Practitioner to Master. It may take some practice to run this play.




Prior to this play you will need to have a clear requirements, specifications and prioritized rank ordered work. Do not run this play until the activities are complete.


The right people are key to the success of this play. Look for team players, make sure they are out on the field!


This is where the game is played. It may be physically at the same location or multiple places, and could be completely virtual or a mix.



All of our plays are five steps or less! However, you may need to run multiple plays to get the most out of this one. Don’t worry – you can do it! Learn the play, rehearse it regularly, apply it in the field and debrief on the outcomes. If it worked well, use it again; if it didn’t, find out why. Are there new factors in the system you need to consider, or do you just need to keep practicing? If you need help or have questions on this play, contact us!



Who are the players?

Every winning team knows which players to have on the field and what talent you need on the ready. To successfully deploy this play you will need the following roster:

Facilitator: Likely this is you! But you don’t have to do it alone, ask a friend (think of it like a football team that has a coach for different parts of the team). Skills needed:

  • Keep the team focused on the goal!
  • Foster a positive and creative space for all.
  • Organized and prepared to run play.

Builders: This can be any implementation resource. They will take the requirements and specifications as guidance on what to build. They are team players. In sports, they are the players out on the field. Skills needed: 

  • Is the 3R’s: Responsible, Reliable and Ready
  • Communicate effectively.
  • Optimistic and future-focused.
  • Shows genuine commitment.
  • Supports and respects others.
  • Embraces collaboration.
  • Actively listens.
  • Problem solver.





Great teams huddle regularly to make sure that everyone knows the play and is set-up to win. 

  • Review the prioritized work before beginning any building activities. 
    • Look for dependencies on other work items (does another task have to be complete before/after this one?).
    • Is it ready for working on or is there some outstanding questions still? Some flexibility is fine, but vague ideas or requirements are not good candidates for this play.
    • What are the risks? Ask the team if this doesn’t get done, what will happen? How do we plan for that? Are there work-arounds?
  • Give an estimate to each item of work. Many teams use hours (work effort not duration) as that is easily understandable across the organization. Agile teams use points as a way to size work. Team should use whatever units work best for the organization.
  • Allow for some contingency time if things don’t go as planned. Hopefully, you won’t need this but be prepared for it ahead of time in case you do. Determine if there are any planned Personal Time Off (PTO) for anyone on the team. Readjust work commitment if needed.
  • Get a commitment from each builder for the proposed work that will need to be completed in this upcoming iteration.

Make sure everyone is ALL IN!


In time management, timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a timebox, within which planned activity takes place. It is used by several project management approaches and for personal time management. 

  • Determine a set time period for completing the tasks in this iteration. Agile teams often do a two-week period. Waterfall teams use a period that aligns to requirements for a particular milestone.

Taking time out of building activities to check in with the coach and team is critical! In business these are often check-in meetings or in Scrum called stand-up meetings. This regular sync keeps the team focused on the goal. 

Daily stand-ups typically take this format:

  • 15 minutes or less
  • Each person states three things:
    • What I did yesterday
    • What I plan to do today
    • Any blockers in my way
  • Offline any discussions that are not quickly answered topics

Project check-in/status meetings typically take this format:

  • Project/milestone progress and updates
  • Risk review and issue log updates
  • Next steps and follow-up actions

Time to get out there and build it. Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need to be successful. Here are some tips on how to execute successfully:

  • Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth and context switching is expensive. So just work on one task at a time until it is done or as far as you can take it.
  • Avoid interrupts. With all of today’s distractions it is amazing we get anything done. If you can, set yourself on Do Not Disturb mode on any social platforms as well as your phone. Even if it is only for a short period it will boost productivity significantly. Block out your calendar and list the task as your subject as a reminder.
  • Ask for help. Know when it is better to ask for help then to keep struggling at a problem. Give yourself permission, “I am going to work at this for ________ time, if I don’t solve it by the end, then I will ask ________ for help.”
  • Celebrate the wins! Look for opportunities to focus on wins for yourself and your team mates. Give a shout-out to someone who went out of their way to help you. You will get what you give – the more you recognize the positive wins, the more often you will see the winning moves.

The team did it – they won! Now that the building activity is complete it is time to show off the goods. 

  • Schedule a demo meeting with stakeholders. This is where you will show off all your hard work! A demo should be short and sweet overview of the outcome. This is not a training session or a knowledge transfer, so take any detailed questions offline. 
  • Document solution and any how-to information. This knowledge transfer is critical for any solution but often gets skipped as it isn’t as fun as the building. This investment now will save the team time later during testing and validation activities.
  • Tie up any loose ends. This may mean logging time, closing out a ticket or running a report. These closing activities formally conclude the building phase.

It is important to review the game and ask if there is opportunities to improve. This particular retrospect is for the building activities for this specific group of tasks. Keep it short and sweet. Review:

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What should we change for next time?

This play is meant to run several times during the course of a project execution phase. Some teams do this every two-weeks and others may do this every quarter. Determine what works best for your organization. 


Want to learn more about Agile estimation techniques? Check out this article from ReQtest.



Time to run the Team Huddle play. Ask the team the following questions and then take a vote. Keep follow-up questions to a minimum and capture any issues raised as an offline follow-up (and be sure to follow-up).

Understand the play?

The play was understood and I asked any questions in time!

I’m not sure I understand and I have some questions …

I did not understand the play or my part in it.


Did you get in the game?

Yes, I made my moves and was in the right place at the right time!

I’m not sure I understand what I was supposed to do …

I kept the bench warm and watched from the sidelines.


Ready for what’s next?

Yes, I know the game plan and ready to win!

I’m not sure what’s next or if I am involved …

No clue what’s next and would rather sit it out.




Phew! The hard part is done! You might be tempted to run this play for all of requirements at once – but don’t boil the ocean in one go! Instead congratulate the team on a very successful and productive iteration! Then do it again.





You did it! Now just a few follow-up items:

  • Reflect on the play. Ask yourself how it went? What could have gone better, what could have gone worse? In sports this is watching the game again to see any plays that could have been better. Update your playbook. Build feedback loops that help you see what’s working; what’s not; and how to continue to develop the playbook by learning, adapting and iterating constantly as situations change and new challenges arise.
  • Contribute to the community of Playbook.Ninja. Sign-up for an account and receive updates on when new plays are added and help others by commenting on the plays with what worked or your experience.

Thank you for being a Playbook.Ninja


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