Make Flowers!

Learn Story Point Estimation

16 April 2014

Suma Kumar
Infosys Ltd


Have you been hampered by the challenge of explaining how to do story point estimation to people who have for years done estimation using number of hours or man-days? Do you find it difficult to understand story point estimation and release planning in story points? Learn to make flowers with me, and I will teach you story point estimation and release planning!

I devised this game as an Agile trainer in October 2013. As a trainer, I used to give theory sessions about Agile planning and estimation. But theory sessions alone always left people with lot of questions and gaps in their understanding. So I devised this game to be integrated within my Agile planning and estimation training.

Equipment needed per team:
  • 2 pieces of chart paper
  • About 25 pieces of A4-size (8.5" x 11") paper
  • Scissors
  • Cello tape
  • Thread
How to play: The goal of the game is to educate everyone on Agile planning using story points.

There are two key concepts to know:
  • 6 levels of planning in Agile (strategic, portfolio, product, release, iteration, and daily)
  • 5 levels of requirements (theme, epic, feature, story, and task)
I give the theme of the day: beautifying this building

This theme would have many epics: decorating the interior, landscaping the exterior, etc.

We will pick decorating the interior for today's activity and describe a feature under that as "Decorating our conference room with flower garlands."

The team now has to do:

Release planning
The goal of the release: 1 garland of 16 flowers, each flower being made of 6 florets

The steps for release planning are as follows:

Step 1: Create our product backlog
"Decorating our conference room" backlog:
  1. Make 96 florets
  2. Bundle 6 florets into 1 flower each
  3. Make 16 such flowers
  4. String them together to make 1 garland

Step 2: Estimate the product backlog
For this, I give a demo of making 1 flower, and the members learn. Now the team estimates the product backlog using floret points.

Example:
  1. Make 96 florets => 96 floret points
  2. Bundle 6 florets into 1 flower each => 3 floret points
  3. Make 16 such flowers => 16*3 = 48 floret points
  4. String them together to make 1 garland => 5 floret points

Step 3: Find the team velocity
For this, we do 1 sprint, which includes:
  • 1 minute of planning
  • 3 minutes of execution
  • 1 minute of review and retrospection
At the end of the sprint, the team has its velocity.

Step 4: Derive sprints
For this, the team divides total floret points by velocity of the team = number of sprints for this release.

To explain the flexibility of story point estimation, we can introduce a new requirement of another kind of flower. The team has to incorporate this into the release, again using floret points.

I have demonstrated this game more than 10 times already, reaching a total of more than 200 people. Each time, we end the class with a garland of flowers and a good understanding of story point estimation and release planning!


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Comments

Deepak Srinivasan, CSP,CSM, 4/16/2014 8:12:42 AM
Very nice agile game Suma!
Dubravka Widmer, CSM, 4/22/2014 7:48:50 AM
This is a great idea! It's easy to implement indoors. It illustrates effectively not only the estimation in Story Points, but also the release planning and tracking progress.

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