People playing with Lego blocks at Chicago Ideas Week.During this past month’s Chicago Ideas Week, we went back to the building blocks to teach Agile methodology—literally. We hosted 40 people for “Learn Agile with LEGO” at our office, where teams built “products” with LEGO bricks using the Agile process, and got to relive some childhood fun along the way.

The term “Agile” was first introduced in 2001 with the writing of the Agile Manifesto, and refers to a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development, where solutions evolve through shared collaboration between development teams and their customers. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

For this exercise, we staged a challenge where teams had to build “robots” with LEGO bricks that had to meet certain client requirements. We broke the group up into eight teams comprising CIW participants (in this case, "developers"), a Table XI "client," and an "Agile Coach."

The teams built their robots using Agile methods, following the process we use for software development:

Poster explaining what an Iteration is.Inception: The teams asked questions and determined what their clients needed in their robots—things like mobility or strength.

Iteration Planning Meeting: The teams finalized requirements, identified deliverables, and set expectations with the client.

Iteration: Development! The teams built their robots based on the info they had gathered.

Showcase: The teams presented their first iterations and the clients tested them.

Retrospective: At the end of each iteration the teams and clients discussed what worked, what didn’t, and how they could improve the process moving forward.

Turns out our guests were great LEGO developers, who quickly picked up key aspects of the Agile process, including customer collaboration, communication, adaptive planning, and incremental development. They were able to respond quickly to testing, feedback, and new information, and make adjustments to their designs as necessary along the way.

The end result? Some great LEGO creations, and some new Agile converts!

Are you interested in learning Agile with LEGO? Send a note to

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