Relative Estimation

Compare apples to melons


More predictability through a shared view of complexity in the workload.


Your team practices relative treasures using photos of different vehicles. Then they estimate the customer’s wish list with Planning Poker. The team uses these estimates to report its speed of development each period. These estimates and the reported development speed together form the basis for a reliable roadmap.



Mike Cohn explains how planning poker works.

Play Video

To Work

Exercise 1: Sorting vehicles

Have the team arrange the cards with vehicle pictures in order of capacity. Define capacity as the vehicles ability to take preople with their lugage from A to B. It is a combination of:

Tip: First let the team use their gut feeling to put all the cards in order. Only then have them discuss and use knowledge from the group to improve the order.

Exercise 2: Grouping vehicles

Arrange the planning poker cards from 0 to 8 in order above the sorted vehicle cards. Now have the team group the vehicle cards into categories of similar capacity. Use the Fiat 500 as a reference, this is the [2]. No vehicle cards may be placed between categories.

Exercise 3: Relative estimation of own wishes

Now do exercise 1 and 2 with your customer wishes, user stories or product backlog items, printed in postcard format. Relative estimation is a fast way of estimating large numbers of items.

Planning poker uses the principle of Relative estimation to get the whole team involved in estimating a small number of items (see the movie above and the link to a description of planning poker below).


Relative estimation and planning poker are based on the Wide Band Delphi estimation method once developed for the US Department of Defense. The exercise with the vehicles was developed by us.

You find a more elaborate description of this technique in section 5.2 Relative Estimation in our book Connective Teamwork (EN, NL). The book helps you set your team in motion with a practical 5-step plan and 20 teamwork techniques.

You can learn more about and practice this technique in our Connective Team Coach Training Course.

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