*I was introduced to this technique by Xavier Quesada Allue who told me he learned it from Tobias Mayer. A reference to this can also be found in Jean Tabaka’s book: Collaboration Explained (p207) entitled “Pass The Cards”*

**Timing:**

10-15 minutes

**Materials:**

A minimum of 8 people, and an even number of people

Anything that you want to prioritise, written on separate cards

One card and one pen per person

**Instructions:**

This exercise only works with an even number of people and has a total of seven rounds

Give everybody a card with a Product Backlog item on it and a pen

In each round everyone finds someone to pair up with and they discuss the two cards they have in front of them:

- As a pair, you have 5 points that can be allocated between the two cards based on the relative importance of the two cards
- No half numbers are allowed so the points must be split 5:0 or 4:1 or 3:2
- It is not about each person trying to convince the other that their card is more important than their partners card
- The two people must agree on the scoring split
- Once the scoring split has been agreed, the pair swap cards with each other and hold their hands up to indicate they have finished the round
- Once everyone has finished with the round, the facilitator indicates the start of the next round where different pairings will take place, repeating the above process
- A total of seven rounds are run and then the total of the 7 scores on the card are totalled up.
- The cards are then laid out in order with the highest scoring cards at one end and the lower scoring cards at the other

**Learning Points: **

- It is easier to prioritise when only comparing two items
- It is a quick way to prioritise
- It is a democratic, inclusive process
- If you have stakeholders who are attached to lobbying for one particular feature, this literally requires them to give it away to someone else

**Variations:**

- Try more rounds to decrease the likelihood of spurious results and cards with the same total score
- Try a bigger scoring range to increase the spread and reduce the impact of people unwilling to use the extremes i.e. 9 points instead of 5. While you may still not get many 9:0’s you may get more 7:2’s

Certified Scrum Coach and CST in the UK and really interested in learning through play

A point of interest, @tobiasmayer is right (and i so appreciate you Tobias for accrediting this to the master: Thiagi). Thiagi is /the/ world’s master in games and simulation:

[years ago (1994!) this was part of a pilot framegames training].

Thiagi has it published it on his website, you can see it in the archive: http://thiagi.net/archive/www/pfp/IE4H/march2008.html#Framegame and an express version is here: http://thiagi.net/archive/www/pfp/IE4H/may2008.html#StructuredSharing

like all of his framegames, there is so many content adaptions you can do w this lovely, enliving framegame.

Great idea Sabine

Geoff

I use this game to prioritize the 12 agile principles. In addition to learning about prioritization it also makes the players familiar with the principles.

Kind regards

Sabine

I case anyone is interested…

apparently the game originated here: http://www.thiagi.com/

Thanks for the extra information guys – I really appreciate it.

I played this game several times, and also with an odd number of people. In case of an odd number of people, there’s always 1 group of 3 people. I ask them to distribute 10 points (instead of 7) over the 3 cards. (I play Tobias’ version with 5 rounds and dividing 7 points each round.)

Thanks for the credit. I actually learned this game from Matt Smith (http://matt-smith.net/) who used it to set the vision for the Scrum Exchange event in 2006. The form I learned was for setting a vison statement for an event:

1. Each person writes down their ideal learning outcome.

2. Swap cards as described

3. Score out of 7 points (7-0, 6-1, 5-2, 4-3)

4. Swap five times.

5. The top two or three cards are then merged/combined to form a vision for the group, which is written up big and acts as the focus for the rest of the event—unless reconceived later (which may happen).

I like the variation of using this to prioritize backlog items—sounds like Xavier did a “yes-and” on the game 🙂