Standup Poker

I recently came across a episode on Agile for Humans where they described the concept of Standup Poker. I was actually quite intrigued by it, and I could see how it could potentially provide additional value to standups to make them much better. But before I get ahead of myself, lets start at the beginning.

What Is It?

Standup Poker is a way in which the team can have mini retrospectives, during the sprint, at standup. This is achieved by everyone receiving a pack of cards, labelled zero to five, and essentially voting on their confidence level on the team achieving their sprint goal. A vote of zero means that we might as well go ahead and cancel the sprint, whereas a vote of five means that we will finish comfortably.

By doing this, it allows you to take corrective action, by replanning and reprioritzing the work, when the team see trouble ahead. It is also a mechanism to motivate the team to get better during the sprint and foster the mindset of helping each other.

What Do The Numbers Mean?

Below is a breakdown of what all the numbers mean:

5 - We will be done with without pushing ourselves.
4 - We need to pick up the pace on a few items.
3 - We might not make it we need to take a good look at our tasks.
2 - We aren't going to make the sprint and need to see what we can move out.
1 - We will get nothing done this sprint.
0 - We might as well cancel the sprint.

What Is The Process?

  1. The team does their retrospective as per normal.
  2. You then ask how confident the team is feeling in achieving the sprint goal on time.
  3. All the members then show the voting card at the same time.
  4. The person with the lowest confidence score then explains why they feel like that.
  5. The team, as a whole, tries to work out what they can do in order to change the number to a five.

Finally, you can check out the Standup Poker Website, where they have a lot of valuable resources, such as printable cards. There is also a quote on their site, which I found quite applicable, and goes as follows:

Standup is 30% Update and 70% Planning.

Until next time, keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa