Agile

Priority Poker

Contents
What is Priority Poker?
Definition of Priority Poker
Priority poker is a consensus-based agile estimating approach where participants use decks of cards with numeric values to estimate the relative complexity or effort of product backlog items through discussion and multiple voting rounds. Group members analyze an item, then simultaneously reveal chosen cards, discuss differences in rating, gain understanding, then re-vote until the team converges on a final numeric value representing item difficulty and priority rather than hours/points.

Priority Poker is a collaborative decision-making tool used in product management and operations. It is a technique that leverages the collective intelligence of a team to prioritize tasks, features, or anything else that requires ranking. This method is particularly useful in situations where a group of individuals needs to reach a consensus on the importance of different items.

The term "priority poker" is derived from the popular card game poker, but instead of betting on cards, participants are betting on priorities. This method is also known as "planning poker" in agile development circles. The goal of priority poker is to facilitate discussions and negotiations among team members, leading to a more democratic and transparent decision-making process.

Definition and Purpose of Priority Poker

Priority Poker is a consensus-based technique for prioritizing tasks or features in product management and operations. It involves team members independently ranking items, then discussing their rankings to reach a group consensus. The purpose of this method is to eliminate bias and ensure that every team member's opinion is considered in the decision-making process.

The technique is particularly useful in product management, where it can help teams prioritize features or user stories in a product backlog. It can also be used in operations to prioritize tasks or projects. The goal is to ensure that the team's efforts are focused on the most important tasks, leading to more efficient use of resources and better outcomes.

Origins of Priority Poker

Priority Poker was first introduced in the field of software development, specifically in Agile methodologies. It was initially used to estimate the effort required to implement different user stories in a product backlog. Over time, the technique has been adapted and used in other fields, including product management and operations.

The concept of Priority Poker is based on the Delphi method, a forecasting process framework based on the results of multiple rounds of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts. The responses are aggregated and used to reach a final decision. Similarly, Priority Poker involves multiple rounds of ranking and discussion until a consensus is reached.

Benefits of Priority Poker

One of the main benefits of Priority Poker is that it encourages active participation from all team members. Everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and influence the decision-making process. This can lead to more informed decisions, as different perspectives and insights are considered.

Another benefit is that it helps to eliminate bias. By allowing team members to rank items independently before discussing their rankings, it reduces the influence of dominant personalities or higher-ranking individuals. This can result in a more fair and democratic decision-making process.

How to Play Priority Poker

Playing Priority Poker involves several steps. First, the team needs to identify the items that need to be prioritized. These could be tasks, features, user stories, or anything else that requires ranking. Each item is written on a separate card or post-it note.

Next, each team member independently ranks the items from most to least important. They can do this by arranging the cards in order of priority, or by assigning each item a numerical value. The team then comes together to discuss their rankings. Each team member explains their reasoning, and the team discusses any discrepancies in their rankings.

Round of Discussion

After the initial ranking, a round of discussion takes place. Each team member presents their rankings and explains their reasoning. This is an opportunity for team members to share their perspectives and insights, and for the team to discuss any discrepancies in their rankings.

The goal of the discussion is not to argue or persuade others to change their rankings, but to understand the reasoning behind each team member's rankings. This can lead to new insights and a better understanding of the items being prioritized.

Re-ranking and Consensus

After the discussion, team members have the opportunity to re-rank their items based on the insights gained during the discussion. The team then compares their new rankings and identifies any remaining discrepancies.

The process of discussion and re-ranking continues until the team reaches a consensus. This is when all team members agree on the final ranking of the items. The result is a prioritized list of items that reflects the collective opinion of the team.

Specific Examples of Priority Poker in Practice

Priority Poker can be used in a variety of contexts in product management and operations. Here are a few specific examples:

Product Backlog Prioritization

In product management, Priority Poker can be used to prioritize features or user stories in a product backlog. The team identifies the features that need to be developed and writes each one on a separate card. Each team member then independently ranks the features based on their perceived value to the user, complexity, or any other relevant factors.

After the initial ranking, the team comes together to discuss their rankings. Each team member explains their reasoning, and the team discusses any discrepancies. The process continues until a consensus is reached, resulting in a prioritized product backlog.

Operational Task Prioritization

In operations, Priority Poker can be used to prioritize tasks or projects. The team identifies the tasks that need to be completed and writes each one on a separate card. Each team member then independently ranks the tasks based on their urgency, importance, or any other relevant factors.

After the initial ranking, the team comes together to discuss their rankings. Each team member explains their reasoning, and the team discusses any discrepancies. The process continues until a consensus is reached, resulting in a prioritized task list.

Conclusion

Priority Poker is a powerful tool for collaborative decision-making in product management and operations. It encourages active participation from all team members, helps to eliminate bias, and leads to more informed and democratic decisions.

By using Priority Poker, teams can ensure that their efforts are focused on the most important tasks or features, leading to more efficient use of resources and better outcomes. Whether you're prioritizing features in a product backlog or tasks in operations, Priority Poker can help your team reach a consensus and make better decisions.