Friday, December 5, 2014

The Tick Tack Boom game

Inspired by the game known in the Netherlands as ‘Tik Tak Boem’ or in English ‘Pass the Bomb’ I developed a retrospective game. Do you want to know what it looks like?

The game

The people participating in the game are forced to think and speak fast which prevents them to react politically correct.


One round in the game takes a couple of minutes. Taking the explanation time and the number of rounds into account the game can be finished in 30 to 60 minutes.


The Tick Tack Boom game makes use of the physical game ‘Pass the Bomb’. It uses the next parts of this game:

  • The bomb (mandatory)
  • A special dice and cards (optional)

The agile coach prepares the game by writing down some important questions. These questions can vary depending on the coach’s goal with the game.


Start the game by asking the team to stand in a circle.

  • The agile coach asks one of the prepared questions and he gives the activated bomb to one of the participants
  • The one with the bomb answers the question [Note: duplicate answers are rejected]
  • On a correct answer he or she throws the bomb to the one who is next to him/her (clockwise)
  • If he bomb goes off in your hands, you loose. You also loose if the bomb is still in the air on its way to the next person (unless catcher dropped it).
  • As a facilitator the coach could write down the answers for later use.
  • The agile coach asks the next question

Reward the one who has lost the round or has lost the most during the entire game.

When you want to make the game more complex, but slower, you can use the dice and the cards. The team now needs to think harder. You can alternate the game by sometimes using the cards and sometime not. This could keep the participants alert.

Learning points

Of course the learning points of this game depends on the questions that are asked. However, a very nice thing is that the participants tell each other things they usually wouldn’t do. They don’t have a lot of time to answer, so they give the answer that is on top of mind. This results in interesting points of view, that otherwise could have been covered by political correctness. In this way the game supports openness between the participants that could eventually also improve openness within the team during the project.

How to use


The Tick Tack Boom game can be used in combination with a lot of retrospective techniques. The game can be in each retrospective stage (set the stage, gather data, generate insights, take action and close). For instance, I have combined this game with the next techniques with nice results.

Based on the answers the coach decides how many rounds are sufficient.

Teaching agile

It can also be used to check what your team knows about agile software development. In that case you can prepare some questions and use the cards to make it more difficult.

The physical game

Information regarding the game can be found on the websites of the manufactures

  • English
    Pass the Bomb
  • Dutch

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