T-Shirt Sizing: Is there nothing it can’t do?

I recently discovered Planning Poker style T-Shirt Sizing can aid the elicitation process while gathering and ranking pain-points.


T-Shirt Sizing – To the rescue!

The job: Gathering pain-points from many Lines Of Business (LOB) related to the process of policy administration for AIG. The goal, incorporate the Voice Of Customer to better understand how a single system and unified process might accommodate most or all LOB’s, and rank all entries.

While ranking the pain-points with our user groups, we noticed an undesirable trend, one person (in most cases the group’s manager, not an end-user) would step forward to rank the problem, then everyone in the group would quietly follow and agree.


  • We were dealing mostly with the manager’s agenda, vs. real pain-points
  • The group was passively following/agreeing and not participating (No voice in the process, so why should they stick their necks out)
  • The “why” was not making it to the conversation

Solution: Use Planning Poker style T-Shirt Sizing.
Rather than ask the group in the open* to rank, we set up a Poker Planning Session (Using a simple online voting tool) allowing all users to vote individually. Once all votes were in and then revealed – we asked outlier voters to discuss why they voted as they did.

Obviously, this pushed our group out of their comfort zone of sitting in the meeting and saying as little as possible, however, once the group got comfortable the ranking process improved drastically.

The dam had broken, but improved ranking was not actually the greatest benefit.

  • The discussion and insight that came from outlier votes helped to reveal a detailed picture into their process and ultimately the “why” behind the pain-point.
  • Individual users became active, and passionate once they realized they had a say in the process.

So next time you work with a group to elicit information, consider using Planning Poker style T-Shirt Sizing to get the real story and activate your end users into the process of improvement.

*Note this is the same issue I have with open focus groups, one person tends to dominate and everyone else follows.
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