Game of 35 (for Consensus and Prioritization)

I recently attended the Scrum Coaching Retreat in Raleigh, NC and also the pre-retreat workshop facilitated by members of the Agile Coaching Institute called, “Mastering the Ultimate Tool, Yourself”. I would highly recommend both, especially any of the courses delivered by the Agile Coaching Institute. During each of these workshops we played a game called 35 and I found it valuable for reaching consensus of what all the members thought was important. After completing the game we were able to work from a prioritized list that resonated with the group. And it only took about 10 minutes!

Below is a facilitators guide to running it. These were posted originally on Lyssa Adkins blog with a link to a powerpoint. I took the contents of the presentation, modified them slightly and posted them here.

Facilitating 35:

  • Announce the topic (e.g. learning objective, vision, etc…) to the group
  • Each person writes their version of that topic idea on an index card and draws a small box in the corner
  • Each person flips the card over and writes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in a column on the left side. See the examples below
  • Everyone walks around and mixes up the cards
  • When the facilitator says “stop” people pair up and apportion 7 points between the 2 cards, giving more points to the card that speaks to them the most (there is no 3.5)
  • Do this for 4 more rounds
  • Each person sums up the scores on the card they are holding and writes it in the box on the front of the card
  • The card with the highest score “wins” and you can order the cards by their score to reflect priority
35-Front-of-Card

Front of Card

Back of Card

Back of Card

Notes

  • Fast way to get a group to come to one idea while building shared knowledge of all the contributions to that idea and hearing all voices
  • Works best with a group of 10 or more
  • For a big group you can have everyone go up to a white board and place their card in the appropriate rank order. This will create a nice histogram
  • When to do it: to create mission/vision statements, sprint goal statements, learning objectives of workshop and for prioritizing a product backlog

If you have had experience with 35, please post those in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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