Jumping Experiments at Tampere goes Agile

This blog post is written by Ville Ruuskanen

This blog post is written by
Ville Ruuskanen

It's been a tradition for me to travel to Tampere every November for Tampere goes Agile. It's one of the coziest conferences there is and it has been improving every year since it all began back in 2012. 

This year's theme was experimentation and I decided that the best way embrace the theme would be to participate Experimantation Workshop facilitated by Marko Taipale & Ari Tanninen. It turned out to be the highlight of the day.

The workshop began with an assigment from "members of the Olympic Committee" who wanted to fight child obesity by creating something special for the next winter olympics: we were to design a new sports event for kids.

After some brainstorming our three-person group had formed a solution proposal, a game called "jumping tag" (hyppyhippa in Finnish). We then listed the assumptions our solution implied, and plotted them on a fourfold based on their impact/time to verify. We were instructed to design a test for the high impact/quick verification assumption. Our assumption was "jumping is fun" and to verify it we designed a test targeting what we thought to be the toughest group to attract with our sport - teenagers on the 8th grade. Basically we would make them play a simplified version of "jumping tag". We thought that the experiment would be quick and relatively easy to execute. Then Ari asked us:

"Can you test it in next fifteen minutes?"

We couldn't, the experiment was planned to be done in a school, and it was saturday and...

"Make a test that you can execute NOW"

For a second (or a minute) we were dumbfounded. How would we do that? A bit reluctantly we started with making the experiment smaller by reducing the task to "count how many jumps you can make in ten seconds". We then tried to figure out how the experiment could be done with correct target group, there were no teenagers nearby and testing on adults wouldn't do. One participant in our group had an idea, he had two teenage kids, he could always call them. And he actually did! I was sure that it wasn't going to work, calling a teen on a saturday morning and asking to do some jumps, yeah right. To my surprise they agreed to do it, and even got a friend visiting to try it too! So in a matter of minutes we got a small-scale, yet effective experimentation running.

At this point we realised that the game with all the rules and other hassle involved was pointless, we got the kids jumping with a simple task. We just needed some social, competetive aspect to it... And that's how #jumpie was invented!

Even though our example was silly, I learned a valuable lesson at the workshop: Don't be afraid to run quick and simple experiments. We assume that a good experiment has to be carefully planned, but sometimes you just need to jump right into it!