How do we start to use Story Points?

Gather a bunch of stories which were finished in a single sprint with the following criteria:

  • Each story should be something all or most of the team members were able to work on together (If there are none like this, follow a Kanban process for 2 or more weeks while ensuring all or most people have had a chance to work on each item)
  • One story must be the largest item that was ever (or can be) completed in a sprint timebox
  • One story must be the smallest item that was ever (or can be) completed in a sprint timebox
  • Many stories (7 or more) that were completed during the sprint which do not fit into the first two criteria and are a spread in complexity in between the lowest and highest one already identified

Follow the steps below in silence. No conversation will be needed until you are closer to the end of the process. You will be surprised at how much can be completed without conversation and how much faster things can go. 

  1. Place the first story on the table
  2. Have the next person in the team place the next story above (if it is smaller) or below (if it is larger) the previous story or anywhere in the list depending on if they believe it is smaller (placed above) or larger (placed below).
  • Create a new set of stickies or cards with the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 on them. 
  • Each team member gets one card/sticky and places it where they want to size to be – starting with 0 and then going up to the max of 8 (it is ok if you feel there is not a story which fits the size of where you would like a 5 to be – for now – we put the 5 down and keep it as an approximation.)
  • After all number numbers are in place, grab more stories and try to put them in the correct column as shown below. Remember that if a story is even slightly more than a 3, it automatically becomes a 5 – treat these numbers as buckets which are supposed to contain the complexity associated with a story. 

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