portrait image Ilja Vishnevski



Agile Coach


Drowning in Dependencies? Learn to play the Dependency Game!

In an ideal world, agile teams can independently deliver value “end-to-end”, from the maker directly to the customer. This ideal world, however, hardly ever exists outside early-stage start-ups. Once companies begin to grow and scale, maintaining agility, which requires keeping the distance between maker and customer as short as possible, becomes an exercise in balancing and mitigating dependencies of all kinds.
The impact of dependencies is huge. Dependencies reduce available options to achieve the desired outcomes and increase lead time and risk of delays. Furthermore, dependencies between teams very often lead to tension and conflict, as each teams starts to justify their differing priorities.
The Dependency Game, authored by Dana Pylaeva and Ilja Vishnevski, examines team dynamics in a simulated scenario of teams drowning in dependencies. The collaborative goal of achieving maximum business value for the organisation across all teams invites players to reflect on best strategies for mitigating dependencies in order to find the “golden path” to success.
The game’s simple mechanics rely on several sets of dice of different colours, each representing a team, and a deck of cards that offer opportunities to deliver value, but require collaboration between different teams. Some additional twists, such as opportuntiies to work on individual side projects or invest in better capabilities, will certainly bring up some interesting discussion about the best strategy to succeed. Since its birth hour at the Play4Agile in August 2022, the game has been balanced and improved in numerous play-testing sessions.
Beyond the fun of throwing lots of colourful dice, debriefing the game will help players reflect on patterns of behaviours that seem to take control of our decisions when dependencies begin to pile up, and uncover potentials that often remain overlooked due to stressful day-to-day situations, internal politics and conflicts.
Learning Outcomes:
The game is a vivid reminder that bringing value to customers and business is a collaborative effort.
All companies have to deal with dependencies, and finding the best strategies to navigate dependencies requires transparency and open communication. Unfortunately, in “real life”, most of the time our perception is blurred by stressful day-to-day decisions, internal politics and external pressures.
Playing the Dependency Game allows participants to experience a very different dynamic, and reflect on aspects that can be transferred back into their working environments.


Ilja Vishnevski is a seasoned Agile Coach and agile games enthusiast. He is passionate about unleashing growth potential in individuals and teams, and convinced that serious games can boost and diversify learning. Having experienced how cross-team dependencies can stifle a team’s learning journey first-hand more than once, Ilja set out to find ways to help teams untangle the dependencies web and thrive through collaboration.
portrait image Ilja Vishnevski