Prioritizing and Estimating Large Backlogs

This is an estimation game based on Mitch Lacey’s book The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice For Your First Year. In this game, note cards represent user stories or other work items. The following description is adapted from Mitch’s book: Scrum A Year One Survival Guide. Clicking on the image to the right will start an instant play Innovation Game®.

In this game, note cards represent user stories or other work items. Height determines priority. Stories at the top are higher priority; stories at the bottom are lower priority. A story’s priority can be based on ROI, business value, or whatever else the players agree is important.

Width is reserved for size/effort/complexity. Stories on the left are smaller/ easier; stories on the right are bigger/harder.

Team members and stakeholders should collaboratively organize the stories – and use the chat logs to shape their feedback.

The quadrants help you identify how you should organize your work. Items in the top-left quadrant are high priority and small. They’ll end up in the top of your work/product backlog. The stories in the top- right are high priority and large. You should break most of those down into smaller stories because they’ll be coming up in the first several sprints. As the stories are broken down, you may find that some are higher priority than others and that a few might even move to a different quadrant.

Use the integrated chat facility to negotiate about your note cards. And any player can edit a note card to keep track of the agreements of the team. This means that cards will move around during the game as the value of an item increases or decreases or the development team considers various ways of implementing an item.

To get the final results of the game, simply download the Excel spreadsheet. All of the items and their placement values will be available to you for post-processing, including all of the chats.

This is not a learning game. This is a “do work” game. When you’re done with this game, you’ll be able to get a much better sense about how to prioritize your backlog items by reviewing them in clockwise order.

Play the Innovation Game Here