What do you do when half the people think it’s 3 points, and the other half think it’s 5?

(*Ooh, don’t share any more context – leave it there and just keep going!*)

That’s going to happen. If I’m facilitating this Refining Session, I’ll ask one person who scored it a 3 to explain why, and then I’ll ask the same from somebody who gave it a 5.

(*Aww, you explained the scenario… you could’ve let ’em writhe! You’re no fun…*)

I’ll restart a vote, and hopefully this discussion has swayed folks to vote more similarly. But let’s say it hasn’t. Let’s say y’still have a roughly 50/50 split between the same two adjacent Fibonacci numbers. Fine. I then **ask about the Fibonacci numbers on either side of those scores**.

I ask everybody, “Could this be a 2?” then pause for their responses. I then ask, “Could this be an 8?” also pausing for their responses. What I’m looking for is **not just what is said, but more importantly how it’s communicated**. This what/how split neatly echoes a content/style split for you HTML/CSS folks, and a product/process split for weird Agilists like me. I **lean on the greater emotional response** to resolve this difference of opinion in the group.

So, if folks say half-heartedly, “Yeah, I guess,” when asked it’s a 2, but when asked about an 8, they say with some energy, “Naw, it ain’t THAT big… it’s not like the other 8s!” then I hear more emotion *away* from 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 3.

Similarly, if folks are energetically ‘meh’ about a 2, but all, “well, yeah, it could be a lot of work, it could blow up,” while nodding their heads a bit more about the prospect of it being an 8, then I hear more emotion *towards* an 8, thus between 3 & 5, I recommend a 5.

I then explain:

Because we don’t know how much effort something will take until we get into it, these story points are fuzzy.

If we say something’s a 3, then it will very likely end up being anywhere between a 2 and a 5.

If we say something’s a 5, then it will very likely end up being anywhere between a 3 and an 8.

So let’s get in the ballpark, let’s realize that story points represent how we’ve had a conversation about a story to get a better understanding of it such that we’re comfy enough to start, then let’s keep going.

(*And then you launch into Bill Pullman’s, “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!“*)

Sometimes, this cool trick doesn’t work, and after asking about the Fibonacci numbers on either side, there is no obvious emotional pull to either side, so I do my explanation and ask about the 2 & 8 again.

Double sometimes, we’re still stuck.

(*So now what, hot shot?*)

So after a vote, representatives explaining their votes, re-voting, asking about the Fibonacci numbers on either side, appealing, explaining the fuzziness of story points, re-appealing, and **after still feeling stuck after four freakin’ attempts, I flip a freakin’ coin**.

(*Well, THAT was anti-climactic.*)