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The Dream Team Nightmare: Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques


Cover image for The Dream Team Nightmare

The Dream Team Nightmare

Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques


This first-ever interactive Agile Adventure is the gripping tale of an experienced team struggling with agile adoption. In this unique mashup of a business novel written in the gamebook format, you’ll overcome common yet daunting challenges that come from using agile methods. As Jim, the agile coach, you’ll learn to apply a range of thinking tools and techniques to real-life problems faced by teams and organizations. Find out what really works and what fails miserably from the consequences of your choices. And, unlike in the real world, if at first you don’t succeed, you can make different choices until you get things right.

Customer Reviews

Engaging and fun to read, The Dream Team Nightmare is jam-packed with fresh ideas and techniques that are easy to adopt. It’s also a great springboard for follow-up reading on the bigger ideas such as systems thinking. I would heartily recommend it to everyone to share with their teams.

- Victoria Morgan-Smith

Scrum Master

The Dream Team Nightmare is a breath of fresh air in comparison to other books on project theory and process out there. It provides you with a wealth of information to make better decisions on your project.

- James Major

Project Manager, Network Rail

The Dream Team Nightmare is a crash course in Agile. I strongly recommend it to all readers involved in building software products, from technical to product people.

- Dyan Corutiu

Software Developer

The Dream Team Nightmare is an innovative and entertaining read that helped me learn some new ideas and techniques, had me thinking about how I work, and kept me wanting to continue the adventure.

- Karl Scotland

Agile Coach, Rally Software

The Dream Team Nightmare is packed with tips and concrete techniques for how to do just about everything an Agile Coach does. Portia’s entertaining book is totally unlike any other Agile book you’ve ever read.

- Liz Sedley

Author of Agile Coaching

This is the most fun read I’ve had in a long time. I anticipate that it will have the same dramatic effect for Agile methods as The Goal did for Systems Thinking. You should read it at least twice, once for enjoyment and a second time for deeper learning.

- Matt Gelbwalks

Transformation Coach, North Main, LLC

The Dream Team Nightmare shows in a gentle yet concrete way how an Agile coach works. A great book for anyone working to introduce Agile to others.

- Michael McCullough

Founder of and Executive Technical Director at Quadrus Development

The game of life is to try, learn, and adapt through small and frequent experiments. The palette of problems and creative solutions will surprise experienced Agile practitioners as well as new enthusiasts.

- Staffan Nöteberg

Author of Pomodoro Technique Illustrated

Portia shows, in a very engaging, unique, and fun way, how a sequence of small decisions and the way we interact with people can determine the success (or failure) of a project.

- Sandro Mancuso

Founder of the London Software Craftsmanship

Seeing how different characters react to a certain tool or topic gives me the confidence to try them out. The tone is gentle, non-preachy and provides personal insights into how a coach should work. I would recommend every Scrum Master read The Dream Team Nightmare or something similar every six months.

- Claire Hannon

Scrum Master

Portia’s Dream Team characters resemble very real profiles: you will recognize your colleagues, your managers, yourself. You will discover principles, practices, tools, and people that can help your team get back on track and grow software that matters for your business.

- Maria Bortes

Technical Architect

There are many books that would tell you all the theory you need to know about implementing Agile. Portia takes a whole different approach in her book—one where the principles are explained in a very practical way. I recommend this book to change agents regardless of where you are in your journey towards agility.

- Özlem Yüce

Lean-Agile Transformation Lead, Maersk Line A/S

Often when coaching, I have wished I could turn back time and do things differently to see the consequences of my decisions. Portia’s unique book makes this possible. Through deliberate practice, it acts as a real-life kata for improving your coaching skills over and over again until you reach a happy ending.

- Peter Thomas

Director, Thomas Technology Associates
What you are holding in your hands is a rare piece of art. Not only has Portia managed to put so much wisdom into this book, she has also reinvented the format of agile books. This is the funniest, most inspiring agile book I have ever read.

- Yves Hanoulle

Creative Collaboration Agent

Reading The Dream Team Nightmare is a fun and involving way to understand the basics of Agile, the common challenges practitioners face, and practical ways to address them in your organization. Portia brings in tools as part of the story that those new to Agile, and perhaps not so new, can put into immediate use.

- Jenni Jepsen

Communications Strategist and Agile Enthusiast, goAgile

Once I picked up the book, I couldn’t put it down. The gamebook format makes the tools and techniques easy to learn and adds a cheeriness to the challenge. I would definitely recommend this book to others in my department.

- Carolyn Donovan

Project Support Officer

The Dream Team Nightmare is the most compelling and intriguing business novel that I have read so far. I highly recommend this book to Agile readers of all experience levels. You will learn lots. Let Agile Adventures entertain you!

- Olaf Lewitz

Trust Artist and Coach,

The only way to learn Agile coaching is by doing. The Dream Team Nightmare lets you experience a week as Agile coach to The Dream Team. It’s totally fun and surprisingly like real life.

- Steve Holyer

Agile Coach

The Dream Team Nightmare is different, playful, fun to read and fun to re-read. Portia will inspire you and will challenge you to think about what you are doing.

- Vera Peeters

Software Developer, Tryx bvba

I would recommend this book to anyone who has little or no practical experience using Agile. The book provides a glimpse of what Agile can be like in practice.

- Antti Kirjavainen

Senior Consultant, Houston, Inc.

I especially liked the life lesson reminders, such as the importance of maintaining a work/life balance.

- Ben Seldon

Execution Team Lead and Senior Production Geologist

I wanted to know if the team was going to make it and if certain characters would ever join in.

- Lesley Rantell Seldon

Reservoir Engineer

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About this Title

Pages: 304
Published: 2013-11-15
Release: P1.0 (2013-11-13)
ISBN: 978-1-93778-571-0

Management is ready to disband your new agile team and outsource your project. Can you save The Dream Team?

The Dream Team started their journey 18 months ago. Since then, life has become a nightmare. Progress has ground to a halt. Morale is low. Quality has become taboo. You have five days to figure out how to get the team back on track. There will be conflict and maybe tears. One thing is for sure: there will be plenty of tough decisions to make.

Inspired by a classic gamebook series, this fun and interactive story has eight different endings designed to enrich and put your agile development knowledge and experience to the test. Packed with familiar scenarios an agile team faces every day, The Dream Team Nightmare offers you the chance to see what would happen if you could do things differently so you can change the way you do things for real with confidence.

Combining practical team-building exercises with effective facilitation and Systems Thinking, by the end of the book you’ll be ready to rescue projects in trouble, and get new projects off to a better start.

Q & A with author Portia Tung

How did you come up with the idea of turning the book into a game?

The most effective books are engaging and fun to read. Likewise, for my book to exist, it needed to be engaging and fun to write! The Dream Team Nightmare lets you get caught up in the action to make the learning more memorable. Gamebooks, such as the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series I read when I was a child, helped me develop a lifelong passion for reading. I hope The Dream Team Nightmare will encourage readers to pursue lifelong learning!

What’s the key takeaway for readers?

Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Agile may seem simple, but it isn’t easy. To be truly agile, I’ve discovered that you need all the practice you can get. This means striving to embrace Agile values and principles whenever you can.

What’s the best way to get the most out of the book?

Start at the beginning and pick a path to follow. You can take a break after each of the 5 days or rest at your journey’s end. Of course you should try to reach the happy ending, but there’s also a lot to be learned from exploring at least some of the unhappy endings. After all, making mistakes is one of the ways we learn.

How many tools and exercises are featured in the book?

There are 16 tools and exercises you can try. There’s a handy index in the appendix so that you can easily refer back and experiment with them in real life.

What can I realistically expect to be able to do after I read the book?

As little or as much as you dare! I recommend taking baby steps. Pick one tool or exercise and give it a go. Then depending on how that turns out, you can decide on the next one to try.


Contents & Extracts




Table of Contents
  • Begin the Adventure
  • Appendices
    • Who’s Who
    • LinkedIn: Jim Hopper
    • Glossary
    • Treasure Trove
    • Tools and Exercises Reference


Portia Tung is a consultant-coach, storyteller, and games maker who combines business strategies with play to bring about positive organizational change. Portia is an international speaker, and the creator of concepts such as Agile Fairytales and Enterprise Gardening. She shares her insights and experiences as a coach and parent on her blog Selfish Programming.