Agile Workflows

Agile Sinking Ship


Group size:

  • A minimum of 2 players, but preferably more.

Game length:

  • 20-30 minutes.


  • Agree on an order of priority for the list of celebrities that will be saved.


  • Only one celebrity can be saved at a time, so the list must be in order from 1 to 30.

How to play

  1. A cruise ship with a number of famous people on board has hit an iceberg and is sinking, leaving the celebrities in mortal danger. Inform players that they don’t know how long it will be until the boat has sunk. The good news is that they have a rescue boat and can be heroes by rescuing the celebrities. The bad news is that the rescue boat is small – they can only rescue one person at a time.

  2. Task players to work together as a team and list the celebrities in the order in which they would rescue them (divide large groups into separate ”teams”). Set them a time limit of 10-15 minutes.

What do we learn?

  • Some teams will fail to agree on an order. In this case, everyone dies. The learning point is that, in agile, almost any decision is better than no decision.

  • It often isn’t worth arguing too much about priority 1 vs priority 2.

  • Arguing about priorities 10-15 is relatively pointless; the boat will probably have sunk by then anyway.

  • Once you have rescued person 1, you can get some feedback on your decision and potentially change your mind about who you rescue next.

  • Most teams will decide on a set of criteria for how to decide on their order. Agile setups need this understanding too. Things become easier then.

  • Prioritization is subjective – there is no getting away from that.

Based on Paul Goddard’s and Geoff Watts’s original game, ”Celebrity Prioritisation.”


Henrik Ståhl image
Henrik Ståhl
Product Owner @Telia Company
Former journalist turned Product Owner. Methodology nerd and incurable strategist. Star Wars and Meshuggah. This is the way.

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