Chase the State

Assess progress and the current state of any type of software delivery work in a holistic way
Contributed by

keithdm

Published June 06, 2022
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What Is Chase the State?

Often when developing software, teams lose sight of the big picture, and don’t truly understand where they are. This fast, structured assessment enables a team to quickly understand where they are with regards to their software development. This game does it in a holistic fashion that will complement any other progress measures in use, whether they are burn-ups, burn-downs or some form of earned value. It takes the blinkers off and forces the team to review all aspects of software development.

Why Do Chase the State?

Use this game to determine the state of your software development efforts and help the team uncover risks, issues or actions that will help them progress the work successfully and ensure they deliver value to their stakeholders. Have you rushed ahead too fast without sufficient agreement about the requirements? Is the team still working well together? This game prompts all of these questions and many more, and helps pinpoint any risks or actions you may need to take with some useful checklists.

This assessment uses an international OMG standard to provide the work states and the checklists. You can therefore be confident that the information on the cards is thoughtful, useful and applicable to all types of software development methodologies (e.g. scrum, kanban, waterfall project, etc).

How to do Chase the State?

Use the link below to download and print (or screenshot) the Essence cards required to play this game. Please note: these cards are covered by a Copyright notice and not by a Creative Commons agreement: you are welcome to print and use the cards but please retain and respect the copyright limitations.

You will see these cards are organised in 7 groups (also known as "Alphas"), where each group has one overview card and a number of state cards which each contain a checklist for that state.

Lay out the cards for each Alpha in a row on the table with the first state on the left and the final state on the right.

Starting with the first state card of the first Alpha, walkthrough the checklist and ask the players if the team has achieved that state.

If the state has been achieved move the state card to the left. Continue with the next state until you reach a state that the team has not yet achieved, or you run out of states.

If it is not clear which state one of the Alphas is in then a quick round of Progress Poker can be used to help reach consensus.

Repeat for all of the remaining Alphas. We suggest you look at the "Opportunity" cards next, followed by "Requirements", "Software System", "Team", "Way of Working" and finally "Work" as the last set.

Ideally we want to see from this assessment that the Team is completing all the relevant checklist items within a given state before moving forwards to the next state; if this is not true then the work progress may not be entirely under control or may be at risk of becoming derailed. As such this game is an excellent way to identify risks, issues or actions that will help the Team complete the work successfully and ensure they deliver value to their stakeholders.

One strategy to play this game is to do two passes:

  1. First pass – just intuitively reflect on each card with the team. Don’t worry too much about the detail of the checklist items on the cards.
  2. Second pass – working backwards check off the individual items on the check lists.

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Chase the State practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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