Elephant Carpaccio exercise

Facilitation guide

Henrik Kniberg & Alistair Cockburn, 2013-07-11

What is this?

The Elephant Carpaccio exercise is a great way for software people to practice & learn how to break stories into really thin vertical slices. It also leads to interesting discussions about quality and tech practices.

The exercise was invented by Alistair Cockburn. We’ve cofacilitated it a bunch of times and we encourage people to run it everywhere.

This is a detailed (shu-level) facilitation guide based on how Alistair runs it plus some minor adaptations from Henrik.

The exercise takes 90-120 minutes, and scales well. We normally do it with 10-20 people but have also done it with groups up to 30.

Timing

2 hours is best, 1.5 hour works but feels a bit rushed.

It’s possible to skip the coding part & just practice creating the backlog. But it takes away much of the fun, and you also miss out on interesting code-quality discussion at the end.

Preparation

Running the workshop

Intro

Why split stories (optional)

This part is only needed if you haven’t already discussed the value of splitting stories

What we will do

The product

Priorities

Create the backlog

How will you work? (optional)

This workshop is primarily about story slicing, but adding a tech practices aspect gives it extra spice.

Build it

Review

Debrief