Dietary Manipulation (Part 1) – Pizza

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Reading time ~2 minutes

**Note, I’m not responsible for any health issues related to over-eating, poor diet, allergies, existing or hidden conditions or the quality of the pizzas ordered in. Eating pizza during training is a personal choice.

Covering story sizing in ~30 minutes needs creative ways to get through people’s mental road-blocks.

On a pure estimation course attendees are prepared to expand their estimation skills with no “selling” needed however if it’s a small component of a multi-day “agile” course people find it hard to fit in their heads. They need to mentally accept the basic concepts and then learn by doing.

I’ve developed a novel (and not very healthy) technique for getting through the “I can’t fit it in my head” barrier.

At the start of a course; during discussions on logistics, lunch, dietary needs etc. I say to the group:

“OK, this afternoon we’ll be covering story point estimation. This can get a bit contentious for those of you that are mathematically minded…”

“…For lunch today, if you are willing, I suggest you have a large helping of pizza. Once you’re fully loaded with carbs, we’ll start the afternoon session. The estimation stuff is about an hour in – where you’ll be close to your carb peak and won’t feel like fighting any more :)”

Then I make sure there’s just over half a large pizza per person available for lunch.

This sounds bad, but it’s not mandatory and I’ve been completely honest with attendees – I’ve not yet had anyone not comfortable to eat pizza.  **(see opening disclaimer)

I’ve also quietly planted the seed that although it’s tricky and abstract, I don’t want any trouble during that part of the session.

What we’ve done is collaboratively neutralize the barriers that prevent the theory going in so that the teaching is more like osmosis. Once the basics are gently brought in with some slides, chat and rather lethargic Q&A , the teams put the theory immediately into practice on their workshop exercises.

Now they get it – but without the mental trauma!

After another day’s immersion with the points they defined during the workshop exercises marked in the corner of each of their story cards, the seeds have taken hold sufficiently for teams to accept what they’re doing and use again outside the classroom.

Never underestimate the power of food & drink when teaching and/or learning.

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