Local Guide – Level 6

Level 6 badge from Google

Today after submitting a review, I was awarded Level 6 in the Google Maps Local Guide Program.

Google Maps did not pay me.

Google Maps did not ask me.

Instead Google Maps gamified me.

And I am glad to have been gamified with the following results:

I like to review restaurants. I feel like a Michelin star taster when I appreciate the food in a restaurant. Google Maps gamified my love for reviewing with stars, comments and posting.

I like to take photos. Food photos are a rage in Instagram. Food photography on cook books look great. Google Maps gamified my love for sharing my photos and telling me how many hundreds and thousands of people are viewing my photos.

I like answering questions from a wizard. Especially if they are easy! Google Maps gamified my love of answering questions right after I visited a place.

How many of us have services that we try convincing our clients to use?

How many of us have products that we try convincing our users to use?

Can we gamify our services and products?

Can we transform our clients and users to Local Guides?

Scrum Team

Standing apart

Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash

I was on vacation in Italy in a hotel with a pool right in front of the sea.

I walked 2 km to the left and 2 km to the right.

Every hotel had a similar offering:

  • Pool
  • Loungers (next to the pool)
  • Bar
  • Sea access
  • Loungers (next to the sea)

Every day in the morning the hotel crew did the same activities:

  • Get breakfast ready
  • Clean the pool
  • Get the bar ready
  • Clean and level the beach
  • Clean the pool and sea loungers

Almost every hotel had a 3 star, 4 star or 4S stars!

Let us extend the idea of hotels and their crew to a company (sea side) with agile teams (hotels) and team members (hotel crew) and agile maturity (stars).

How would each team stand apart?

If you had 4 km of all companies in the radius all being 3 to 4 stars, how would you stand apart?

Eat breakfast, jump in the pool, have a drink, lounge a bit, jump in the sea and REPEAT.

Consume a software service, use a feature, cancel a booked feature, watch progress of a feature and REPEAT

What brings us back to the hotel?

What brings us back to a software service?

Is it something that they do that makes them stand apart?

Interestingly the hotel where I was staying one day arranged for DJ and a Grill.

It was a simple idea but it made them stand apart!

What is your team doing to stand apart?

Scrum Team

Capacity planning

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

How often do you plan capacity?

Is your team completely internal?

Does the team have people working part time?

Do people work across geographies?

Here is an example planning a 1 month calendar sprint for August 2021

NameTypeAvailabilityPublic holidaysVacation daysAvailable daysHours to be planned
RamInternal100%1 (15.08.2021)318104
MiaInternal100% 1 (15.08.2021) 021121
HaiInternal100% 1 (15.08.2021) 120116
AnaExternal50%1 (30.08.2021)29.557
SamExternal25%1 (30.08.2021) 05.2532

Available days = (Working days in August 2021 – Vacation – Public holidays) * Availability

Working days in August 2021 = 22

Hours to be planned = Available days * Hours per day * 75%

Note: German team works 7.7 hours a days and Indian team works 8 hours a day

What is the 75% for?

  • We assume that a team member is productive for 75% of their time which is around 6 out of 8 hours.
    • The remaining time of 2 hours is for administrative work, coffee breaks and so on

Useful links:

Public holidays

How do you plan your capacity?

Scrum Team

Designer in Agile team

Does a Designer belong in an Agile team?

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Can we afford a full-time Designer in our Agile team?

Can a part-time Designer answer and react to our changing design needs?

How does the Designer integrate into A/B testing?

Here is an example of how we do it in our team. Maybe it helps you with ideas to integrate a designer in your team too.

  • Team contains 3 Developers, 1 DevOps who work full-time and 1 Tester at 50% and 1 Designer at 25%
  • Initial stages
    • The Designer got used the Corporate Design and technical Design library (ANT Design)
    • The Designer came up with design ideas for the Platform and Apps
      • During this phase the Developers were building Apps with simple ANT Design components

Development cycle

  • Product Owner and Designer brainstorm ideas with wireframing tool of choice (PowerPoint, Balsamiq)
  • Designer makes his mockups on the tool of his choice
  • Designer gets approval from Product Owner (Sketch)
  • Designer shares his design assets with POs and Developers (Sketch)
  • Designer publishes mockups on knowledge sharing platform (Confluence)
  • Developer adds documentation for interaction points in mockups (Confluence)
  • Tester uses documentation for testing of mockups in Testing environment

Design updates

Scrum Team member or Stakeholder provides Design update idea and the development cycle restarts from the beginning

Interesting links and tools:

Open source illustrations:

Balsamiq wireframing:

Sketch Collaborate:

Confluence Knowledge management:


Agile musings on a kid’s game

Goal: Given some cones, small and big rings – come up with a game that will keep kids from the age of 6 to 10 engaged.

I landed on a kid’s sport festival as a volunteering father and was given the above Goal and 10 to 15 minutes to come up with a game plan.

We had 4 classes with 3 sections each. Totally 12 groups would come to play my game. I had signed up for 12 Sprints!

Sprint 1:

I thought let me bring in three to four actions to the game.

  • Jumping
  • Picking
  • Carrying
  • Throwing

I arranged 6 big rings one after the other, placed 6 small rings inside the big rings and then placed the cones in two rows at the end of the 6th big ring. The game plan was simple (I thought so)

  1. Jump from one big ring to another
  2. After every jump pick up a small ring and carry it
  3. When you reach the sixth big ring, you have 6 small rings with you
  4. Now you throw each small rings at the cone and try to land them as many as possible on the cone

I stood on the side and explained once to the kids on the how game worked. Pretty simple game, right?

First Sprint completed! Whew!

What went right?

  • The game seemed to make sense

What could be improved?

  • Kids walked instead of jumping as the big rings were close to each other
  • Kids had trouble carrying 6 small rings
  • A lot of the kids found it difficult to throw rings on cones even from 10 to 30 cm distance
  • A lot of work is involved collecting small rings, settings cones upright and putting small rings inside big ring for each child
  • It took a lot of time to complete this game and the kids had to finish 12 games in all

Sprint 2:


  • Reduced number of big rings from 6 to 4

What went right?

  • The game did not take too long to complete

What could be improved?

  • Explaining what to do did not seem to work for all kids

Sprint 3:


  • Demonstrated the game by jumping, collecting, carrying and throwing rings

What went right?

  • The kids understood the game and it did not take long to complete

What could be improved?

  • One of the said that game was boring ( I felt offended)

Sprint 4:


  • The Sports teacher walked over to me and looked at my game
    • She recommended two queues to speeden the game
    • She recommended to increase the distance between the big rings
    • She recommended to increase the distance between the last big ring and the cones

I implemented the first two recommendations. The third one, I was not sure as a lot of kids had difficulty getting rings into the cones.

What went right?

  • The game took almost half the time to complete

What could be improved?

  • One of the kids asked if the two queues had to compete

Sprint 5:

I wanted to game to be fun and not necessarily a competition. But what you want for a game is not always what the players want. It became a competition especially with the older kids. Sometimes the competition was between girls and boys.

What went right?

  • An element of competition increased the interest in the game

What could be improved?

  • The two rows of cones started to look boring

Sprint 6:

I arranged the cones in a inverted triangle

What went right?

  • The kids had fun trying the closer one first and getting it
  • They challenged each other to get the farthest cone

What could be improved?

  • Picking up rings after kids was getting tiresome

Sprint 7:

One of the parents suggested asking the kids to pick the rings, set right the cones and place them back on the bigger rings on their way back

We implemented this right away!

What went right?

  • The kids loved playing the game forward and backward setting it up for the next player

What could be improved?

  • Sit back and enjoy!

Sprint 8 to 12:

I tweaked the game here and there over time.

It was great to realise that a simple kid’s game can lead you to agile musings 🙂