At the Agile Meetup in San Mateo yesterday evening, Steve Bockman of Agile Learning Labs led us through a simulation of the Team Estimation Game. Steve invented the game as an alternative to Planning Poker, a popular Scrum technique for assigning points to user stores. The points are an input to sprint planning, a sprint being an iteration in the software development lifecycle. According to Jeff and some other participants who have used this technique, the Team Estimation Game is faster and more beginner-friendly than Planning Poker.
The Team Estimation Game works like this:
1) Team members take turns picking up a card from a pile and sticking it on a wall. Each card represents a user story. After placing the first card in the middle, each team member places their card to the right if it is more difficult, to the left if less difficult, or under another card if the user stories are of about the same difficulty.
2) A user can choose to use their turn to move a card already on the wall to the right or to the left.
3) The process can continue after the pile of cards is used up until there is a general consensus on the ranking of the cards. Players can discuss the stories and influence each other’s decisions.
4) Next, each team member picks up a card with a number on it and places it on one of the columns. A team member could use their turn to change a number assignment made by another team member. This continues until a consensus is reached.
The set of numbers includes only those in the Fibonacci sequence to reflect the general principle that risk increases geometrically in proportion to complexity.
Chris Sims wrote a blog post describing this technique in more detail.
Jeff made the exercise fun by using cards with the names of fruits. The user story was the eating of the fruit. The objective was to rank and score fruits from the easiest to eat to the most difficult. Blueberries ranked lowest, durian highest.
Overall, it was an enjoyable learning experience. Maybe I’ll bring a durian to the next Meetup.