The MOO Blog

MOO gets agile…

21st July 2009 by Nicky

Well, I suppose it makes us more agile – in that we move from our desks to the meeting rooms more often…

The dev team here at MOO started using the Agile Scrum methodology for managing our software development projects at the beginning of the year, and it’s been a very enjoyable experience so far. Imagine my glee when I found out we weren’t the only ones making Planning Poker cards from MOO Business Cards :-) And they’re not the only ones either, our friends at Made By Many said of their cards:

“We used MOO to make up printed agile estimation cards because we were fed up with scraps of badly-drawn paper. Each estimator has their own individual colour, and selects a card with his/her personal estimate. It makes the process feel much more professional! ”

Planning Poker is a different way of estimating projects. In my previous lives, I’ve used hours, days, weeks, sometimes months, and the ever popular “pull a figure out of the air and double/triple/quadruple it, depending on how hard you think your project manager’s going to work you” approach. Scrum uses a funny unit called a ‘story point’, where a story is a piece of work and the number of points the story is worth is how much effort the piece of work will take the team to produce.

It’s called planning *poker* because after talking about what’s involved in the tasks, each of us gets a set of numbered cards, decides secretly how many points we think the task is worth, and puts a card down, face down. The ideal aim of the game is for all of us to know each other and our codebase so well that we all agree first time around when we turn over the cards. Since ideals are very hard to achieve, we more likely end up arguing the case to the rest of the team.. Shouting can sometimes be heard. Biscuits are eaten in anger and frustration, and sometimes, happily :-)

We caught the design team on a good day and plied them with biscuits too, and they made us these. Not just in pink either…

So if you’ve had similar fun with your planning poker cards, send them over to the Flickr pool or let us know, I’d love to see them!

***UPDATE: If you’d like to make some planning poker cards, you can use ours! Upload your own image for the back and pretend you designed them yourself (we wont tell).***

Read comments (14)

  1. Dan Nawara:

    Do you guys have these for order? the design is beautiful!

  2. Denise:

    @Dan – hopefully soon! And thank you – I’ll pass on your compliments to Alex.

  3. Giora Morein:

    Or you could go to http://store.mountaingoatsoftware.comand buy a professionally designed deck of cards for $2.50 for a set of 4.

  4. Denise:

    Giora – you could indeed! Or you could have some fun and make your own. That choice right there, is the beauty of the internet.

  5. Nopadon:

    We’ve got the mountain goat cards and also our own planning poker cards from MOO which are beautiful and unique. MOO FTW!

  6. Rob:

    Playing Poker works really well.

    The only problems we seem to have (at Huddle) are:

    a) cards getting lost, or people forgetting them and just coming along using their fingers as a substitute. Using fingers is awful (I’ve done it) and defeats the point. All cards should be down on the table before everyone turns over so that no one is influenced in any way.

    b) cards getting muddled and wasting time sorting them each planning session.

    Two small things, but annoying. Your own design could be a good idea. Maybe name them for example so you can identify offenders who lose their set! Some sort of plastic case per set would be a good waste of money, but potentially quite cool for us geeks.

    And then the golden rule if anyone forgets their plastic case, they have to go back upstairs to get it. The thought of having to go back up and down a set of stairs is probably a good enough deterrent to stop people forgetting.

  7. Paul Hammond:

    Just a comment from a fellow techie on a sentence in your post.

    You say “The ideal aim of the game is for all of us to know each other and our codebase so well that we all agree first time around when we turn over the cards.”

    I’d disagree with that. I would propose that if you are agreeing first time with too much regularity, then it is likely that you are missing out on one of the key values that collective estimation gives you – the ability to unearth assumptions, mis-assumptions, biased opinions etc. The point of planning poker is to stimulate more discussion that you otherwise may not have had.

    So, for me, the “ideal aim of the game is to take as many rounds as necessary to ensure all reasonably forseeable considerations have been uncovered so that our estimate is as credible as possible”.

    Just my 2 pence… :-)

  8. Christy DeKoning:

    Okay, I just have to say that these are really cool and I loved lurking and listening in on this cool idea. Working for myself (and by myself) negates the need for Planning Poker. But I tell you, if I start sitting my other selves down for some serious planning in my brain-cell-deficient future, I’ll order some of these cool cards to do it right and proper!

  9. Christy DeKoning:

    (…and I’ll use other words besides “cool” too)

  10. Denise:

    Aww, Christy – what a lovely compliment! Thank you :)

  11. June Lim:

    These are so cool!

  12. Rob Stanford:

    Hi, I would love to order these. You’ve kindly added them as a ready made pack but they don’t include the beautiful design on the back. Any chance that design can be made available? (Of course, I could source and upload a design myself, but I’m un-resourceful like that.)

  13. Justin:

    I’d like to order some of these based on your design but the link in the ‘UPDATE’ message is 404′ing. Is it still possible?

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