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1,2, 3….Post IT! A fun, cost free, and collaborative way to host your next Product Backlog Refinement Ceremony

Being an experienced Scrum Master and Product Owner I have found gamification during the time of COVID-19 is very important for your scrum teams to keep engaged. Isolation can be difficult and taking the extra step in creating an environment that is fun and collaborative via zoom has now become an important part of maintaining a strong team environment and creating great results.

I was in search of a tool that would allow the team to estimate user stories more accurately for the Product Backlog Refinement in a fun, cost free way, and getting everyone involved. With limited funding I searched around and found Planning Poker which required a monthly charge. To by pass the monthly charge I decided to use…. ‘Post It’ notes instead vs, the software for the Product Backlog Refinement Ceremony. What I found in a few simple steps helped transform the team into a more collaborate team with no extra cost and helped create more accurate user story estimations.

Recipe: 1,2,3…Post It!

Ingredients: Post It notes and pen or marker


  1. Show a video tutorial on planning poker for product backlog estimation Planning Poker video to show how to play to the team. Instead of using a software use Post It notes.
  2. Do a practice round with the team with a few select team members preparing them beforehand. Review a simple user story. Count 1, 2, 3 and have each team member write a number on the Post It note of what they think the effort will take based on the Fibonacci numbers ex..1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 etc.…and have everyone show it on the zoom screen at the same time. Have the individuals that chose the outlier numbers (highest and lowest numbers) explain why they choose those numbers. This will create great discussion with the team. Count 1, 2, 3 and have the teams post their numbers again and do this till there is consensus. This may take a couple of rounds.
  3. Now do this with the whole team.

Tip:  Create a safe learning environment….part of any new process in learning is creating a safe environment. Let the team know that they are learning, it’s a safe environment, and they all come from different perspectives thus will have different numbers, and no answers are wrong. This will put the team members at ease and create more openness, trust, and collaboration within the group.

Finished product: This creates a more fun and engaged team with more accurate estimations for your user stories, because everyone is part of the process!

Having my CSM and Safe 5 Scrum Master certification and gaining additional agile experience at SVPM organization has been a wonderful experience. I highly recommend getting involved. A big thanks to David Bakhtnia and Donald Stringari, Sponsors and Mentors at SVPM.

Remember the next time you want to host your Product Backlog Refinement Ceremony give 1, 2, 3, …..post it a try! A fun, collaborative, cost free way to get your teams engaged, synergized, and bring them to the next level. So why not give it a try. Feel free to leave a comment or if you have questions and let us know how it worked for you.

Credits: Planning Poker video Agile Estimating and Planning: Planning Poker – Mike Cohn & Mountain Goat Software and photo by KARA 78 01-04-2012


3 thoughts on “1,2, 3….Post IT! A fun, cost free, and collaborative way to host your next Product Backlog Refinement Ceremony”

  1. User Avatar

    Thankyou Rohini for providing knowledge about this technique. After reading the article, I found that planning poker is a great way of estimating story points with team’s contribution. It really seems fun while working and it also reduces pressure of work on the mind of team members as they can discuss their point of view. It will also be helpful for team to make estimation of work progress and they may know how much work is pending. It is a great way of contribution. It is also helpful for distribution of equal work in the whole team. I think at the work place, it is very important to have discussions as it reduces burden of work and reliefs stress. This technique seems to provide a great help to the whole team to cope up with difficulties.

  2. Thank you for sharing this technique! This information is timely as our world moves towards a remote friendly culture. I have had the opportunity of using Planning Poker and found it so engaging, efficient and fun. I love how cost effective and creative this alternative post-it technique is which accomplishes the same result. I would love to learn about more “stretchy” ideas like yours.

  3. User Avatar
    Sara Tripiana Xicoy

    I think gamification has the potential to modify the workplace and to make it more interesting and as you said, during covid gamification became a key element that the majority of companies implemented. Personally, I love to do game activities at work. Working in a team is not always easy and it helps to break barriers and create deeper and closer relationships. Also, it brings enjoyable moments during working hours which is super important! Finally, I would say, that sometimes even with all the technology we have, simple things are the best and your idea about 1,2,3 post it, sounds wonderful as it involves the adrenaline of doing an activity with a short timeline and that activates the body and the brain which usually helps to get people engaged!
    Sara Tripiana

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