Playing Craps to Assign Tasks
3 June 2016
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Sometimes teams need a little help with deciding who will work on which task. It can be that someone is cherry-picking the "easier" tasks. Or maybe they're choosing tasks that play to their strengths, thus reducing development of that particular skill set among the rest of the team.
Assigning tasks to the right developer seems to be a frequent issue with newer teams or new members, for whom the concept of being a single unit has not been fully embraced and there is still an undercurrent of individual glory-hunting. For these situations, it can be useful to introduce a task-picking technique that I call Task Craps.
Task Craps is played by numbering the tasks to be worked on and letting each developer roll a die when he or she is ready for a new task. The developer is assigned the task that matches the number on the die. Typically, this will go on for a few rounds, unless people are having too much fun (which is fine too!). Soon everyone will find that team consensus dictating cooperative decision-making is much more appealing than letting Lady Luck call the shots.
So, if you're experiencing any tension or conflict around task-picking, just roll a die, and see what happens!
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