Magic Estimation as an alternative to Planning Poker

I’ve always had a beef with planning poker. Story points are definitely a huge leap over the old man hours, but when you estimate them via planning poker, I’ve noticed a bunch of things:

  1. It takes way too long! Teams spend hours refining a backlog. It’s just crazy to spend that much time in a meeting.
  2. A lot of the time, people clump around Story Point 3. [You can investigate this yourself: just plot a distribution curve of amount of stories / story point]. I think it’s because 3 is a “safe bet”. You are almost always able to justify a 3: “Oh I thought he was new to the story, and didn’t have experience in it.” or “I’m sorry, I didn’t think of that.” It promotes laziness instead of actual thought.
  3. And people think of story points as absolute sizing after a while, even if your team is good and has blessed stories to refer to.
From the article: Magic Estimation is as simple as this!

So that’s why this article on Magic Estimation resonated. It seems to solve a lot of these problems, and I love it when a team does comparative estimation.

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