This is a great facilitation exercise for quickly seeding a Product Backlog or anything else that requires collaboration. It is a technique that I’ve used for years and was originally inspired by Lyssa Adkins’ Silent Work Techniques
- Divide participants into groups of 4-8 people.
- Provide each participant with 3X5 cards and a sharpie.
- Seed the product backlog by using the first 15% of your story writing timebox for silent writing.
- Then, have each participant take turns reading one of their stories.
- After the story is read, the group discusses and decides whether it is suitable or not. If so, put it in the middle of the table. If not, rewrite it or destroy it.
- If any participant has a similar story as the one being presented, they alert the group and then destroy one of the duplicates.
- Continue in this manner until all the stories are either in the middle of the table or destroyed.
The team will quickly have an initial Product Backlog that is ready to be ordered and sized. It takes the emphasis off of any one facilitator or manager and engages ALL participants. This method also appeals to people that think better by themselves than in large groups (introverts).
In his role as VP of Learning Solutions at Improving, Don McGreal is a hands-on agile consultant and instructor.
* Author of the book: ‘The Professional Product Owner”
* Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer who has authored and taught classes for thousands of software professionals around the globe.
* Co-founder of TastyCupcakes.org, a comprehensive collection of games and exercises for accelerating the adoption of agile principles.
Don is an Irish Canadian Texan.