Difference Between Velocity & Capacity: A Product Manager's Perspective


The number of story points delivered in a sprint is called Velocity.

For example, if a development team planned a sprint, and points from all of the stories was 30, but at the end of the sprint, the team delivered 27 points. The team’s velocity would be 27.

From a product manager or product owner’s perspective, this metric can we a useful tool to plan future work. From a development team’s perspective, it can be used as a KPI to monitor the health development teams.

Velocity For Future Projects

Velocity can be a helpful KPI to plan/forecast either future projects. It can also help give insight into when current projects may be completed.

If you want to do this, track the average velocity over the last 4 sprints. Using individual sprint velocity won’t work as well since single sprint velocity varies from sprint to sprint due to vacation/leave, sick days, etc. By using that past 4 sprints, it provides a better gauge of the velocity for future sprints.

For example, if the velocity for the last 4 sprints were 23, 29, 35, 24, the prediction for future sprint velocity would be 27.75 (sum((23,29,35,24)/4).

In order for this to be a meaningful tool to help your team plan future work, it’s also important that the development team can estimate both user stories and project work relatively accurately.

Remember, when using a team's velocity to plan future work, the number should be used as a guide but should not be used as a contract.

Velocity For Development Team’s ‘Health’

A ‘healthy’ development team will typically have consistent velocity sprint over sprint. This is achieved because of the team’s ability to estimate (point) work and plan sprints well (know what is realistic to complete in the sprint timeframe). Teams usually get better the longer they work together and the more consistent the type of work is.

Does having a high velocity mean the team is a good one?

I’ve been asked this a few times before, and the answer is no. Having a high velocity every sprint, or even a low velocity every sprint, doesn’t mean the team is a good or bad one.

I’d even argue that the actual number doesn’t matter. Every development team points stories differently. A 3-point user story for one team might be a 5-point user story for another. It’s more important that development teams point and complete stories consistently every sprint.

There are circumstances where consistently is really hard but we’ll get into that a bit later.

As a product manager, if you’re finding that a team’s velocity is inconsistent, it’s a good idea to diving deeper with the team and understand more information behind the numbers. Jump into the conversation with a collaborative mindset to discover more. Treat it like a user interview.

The better the development team and you get at this process of measuring output, the easier it is to collaboratively build a roadmap.

Things to understand about using velocity to track development team’s health:

  • Too much focus is bad: While consistency is a sign of a “healthy/mature” development team, focusing on it isn’t always the right thing. Too much focus on consistency velocity may hinder the developer’s ability for creative problem-solving. For example, if a better idea appears mid-sprint, which is out of scope from the existing idea, you want to encourage having conversations about this. If developers feel too tied to velocity tracking, they could choose to just do the existing story because that’s what is being measured.
  • Non-pointed work: In my experience, research and development (R&D, Spikes, etc.) aren’t pointed on purpose. I’ve also worked in environments where some companies pointed bugs and others didn’t. Non-pointed will lower velocity, and that’s ok. By knowing this, you’ll be able to understand that there’ll be a drop in velocity if projects need a lot of R&D. This is common in new technology projects.
  • Team changes: As development teams change, this will affect velocity. Adding new team members likely won’t increase the velocity at first, it can even decrease it while the team adjusts. After new team members get up to speed, the velocity should be higher than before the addition. If it doesn’t increase, it’s a good time to dive and in and do some discovery.
  • Unstable sprints: I define ‘unstable’ sprints as ones where stories are being added or removed mid-sprint. When this happens, velocity will be inconsistent.


The total number of available hours for a sprint is called the development team’s Capacity. Available hours are calculated based on the number of available resources minus things like planned vacation/leave, company events, country holidays, etc.

Capacity is used to plan the sprint. The team commits to completing a set number of user stories/tickets within the sprint time frame. Points are used in the process to help gauge the difficulty of the story and to help gauge the feasibility of completing the sprint compared to past sprints.

For example, let’s say the team commits to 23 stories in a sprint and the point total for that sprint is 39; however in past sprints, the team’s average velocity (over the last 4 sprints) has been 27 points, the team should have a conversation why they’ve committed to more points.

If this happens, here are some things to ask/think about:

  • Is our available capacity higher in this sprint? (Fewer developers on vacation, no holidays in this sprint, etc.)
  • Can we outperform our average velocity? (New hires are contributing more, limited/no R&D in this sprint, last sprints had a lot of R&D, etc.)
  • Are there stories that have high points which may be a risk of not completing? Can we break those down into smaller stories to reduce the risk of rollover?

COVID-19 Update: At Left, it’s all about Community

At Left, ‘Impact your Community’ is one of our core values. During this time of constantly evolving news and recommendations regarding COVID-9 coronavirus, we are still putting Community first - and that includes our Community of Lefties and their families.

Our priority as a company is to be proactive in our response to the virus, to help contain it, and to ensure we are doing the ‘right’ thing for our Lefties, their families, our Communities, and the world-at-large.  As such, we are strictly following all recommendations put forward by our provincial and local health authorities as well as supplementing those with other proactive policies and requirements. Our goal is to do our part to flatten the pandemic curve.

“We intend to be part of the solution, not part of the cause,” says John Lyotier, CEO.  “We owe it to our Community to take all proactive measures we can as a business to contribute to minimizing the virus’ rate of transmission and spread and to reduce the strain on our healthcare system.”

We are a tech company with a flexible work-from-home philosophy already in place, and we are fortunate to be able to extend this policy to support wide-spread and longer-term remote work for our Lefties.  In addition to the work-from-home option, we are encouraging Lefties to continue practicing the recommended Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) guidelines for staying healthy and for reporting if they do exhibit symptoms.

Further, we have implemented the following policies:

  • self-quarantine for all employees who have traveled internationally
  • local business travel for ‘critical’ business only
  • office visitors for ‘critical’ business only

This global health pandemic is evolving at a rapid pace; as such, our Leadership team and Employee Experience team are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to quickly pivot as needed to reduce transmission and harm.

“While we know some measures may feel like an inconvenience to some, we are committed to doing the ‘right’ thing by putting our Community first while retaining our focus and continuing to do great work,” says Lyotier.

For more information about COVID-19 please visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Business with Purpose: 40-Year Thinking

Last week, we rebranded Left and changed the tagline we had trumpeted outwardly for the past 10 years to “Life with purpose. Business with purpose. Travel with purpose.”  While we still live and breathe the original maxim, “We are Left, we do things right,” we believe it is important for us to take those idealistic words and wrap them into messaging that will carry us forward for an even longer duration.

How much longer? I am imagining the world 40 years from now, or two generations. I believe that in order for the world to tackle large-scale, global problems head on, we must be willing to stretch our minds and focus much further out than our usual timeframes. Taking action now will allow everyone to benefit from the world of abundance we find ourselves fumbling towards.

However, prior to going straight to the world of 40 years from now, I need to go backwards by ten, to the start of Left in 2010 and the story that brought us on this great adventure.

At the very beginning, my Co-Founder, Chris Jensen, and I identified a set of core values that helped shape us as a company. Between us, we created a list of 10 values that are now articulated on our website and on the walls of our offices in both Canada and Bangladesh. Now, while most business consultants say 10 values are too many and that any business wanting the proverbial ‘buy in’ from employees should never have more than three or four, we have persisted – somewhat stubbornly – at holding onto all 10 because each value has an important and distinct reason for existing.

Each team member, of course, has one value that resonates with them more profoundly than another. I do, too, although in truth, picking just one makes it feel somewhat like picking a favourite child when I love them all equally – just differently.  Back in 2017, in a speech to our team in Bangladesh, I described the one value that most resonates with me: Make Your Mark (also articulated and expanded on in the subsequent blog post “On Making Your Mark”). This speech and post were made one week after Left became a Certified B Corp:

The journey we are on at Left, together, is one in which we have an enormous challenge in front of us. We believe that we can create products and technologies that can make the world a better place. We believe that we can make our mark on this world, so we must choose to make our mark for the better.

As a company, we have to lead by example.

You may have noticed that on all of my presentations and talks that I gave here this week, that I had this icon on the first and last slide. This is the symbol of B-Corp, and I am very humbled to share with everyone here, that as of last week, Left officially became a certified B-Corp.

What is a B-Corp? B Corps are companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. To become a B-Corp, companies must adhere to rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This designation was something that we worked on obtaining for over one year, and we will continue to work on to improve upon our score each and every year.

Why? Because it is the right thing to do.

40-Year Thinking

This month is B Corp Month during which those of us who believe in using business as a force for good in the world are rallying around the Vote Every Day campaign to inform others about the collective power of buying from, working for, and working with B Corps – all in service of showcasing the collective action and impact of Certified B Corps around the world.

Coincidentally, March 2020 is also the month in which Left resubmits our certification, providing us with a moment to pause and measure some of the impact we have had (and hope to have in the future).

Becoming a B Corp is an example of what I have been calling “40-Year Thinking”, and it is essential to our strategy to practice Sustainable Commerce. (I will talk more about Sustainable Commerce and what it means to us in subsequent posts, but I want to keep this piece focussed on how Left is building a “business with purpose”, while encouraging others to do the same.)

Last month, I visited the team in Bangladesh yet again (for the 10th time, in fact) and gave another speech about the upcoming year while talking about how we were rebranding with our focus on “Life with purpose. Business with purpose. Travel with purpose.” I began my talk quoting Steve Maraboli, whose words were sent to me by a member of the team earlier that week:

“You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it courageously.”

When I talk about our value of Making a Mark, this simple-yet-complex quote encapsulates a lot of that philosophy. We believe that each of us impacts the world around us, often in untold and unforeseen ways. The impact you make may not ever be seen or felt by yourself, but it may be experienced by a child or a grandchild, or it may impact someone on the other side of the world, and you may never be the wiser. The actions you take now to make your mark may not feel like they are having any effect, so we need to remember the impact of many great ideas is only felt in the future, be it 10, 20, or 40 years in the future. As a result, it is important to make your mark for the positive.

Change is Inevitable and Imperceptible

In my talk with the team, I shared the following video featuring my then young family that was filmed on the day before Left was established – way back in June of 2010.

Then, my children were only aged 6 and 4, and here I was setting out on – well truth be told, who knew what at that time – but nevertheless, I persisted. I then showed a photo of my family from today. Both my children, as you can see, are now nearly ten years older and much, much taller.

This was the second time I had shared this video with the team  – “Family is Important” is one of our core values, after all, and being open and genuine is part of who we are. The context for sharing it previously was a talk on change and how it is inevitable:

“Change, while inevitable, is often imperceptible and hard to see when you are living in the moment. And sometimes you are just barely living, you are surviving. In order to see the change, you need to wait a while. Let things percolate. Then come back and look at things several years later.

And this is where we are today. Big ideas take time. They do not happen overnight. The vision we started with – to build something of real and lasting value that impacts our community and make our mark on the world – while still very much true – was created 10 years ago.

I tried to emphasize that world-changing ideas may take a generation, or multiple lifetimes, to be actualized. But those truly great ideas...they are worth it.

The hard part, of course, is envisioning what idea is big enough? What idea is worth waiting a lifetime for? What idea will allow each of us to achieve our greatest self and live out our purpose courageously? And perhaps just as importantly, where would we find such an idea?

Genius is Everywhere

The photo below was shared with me by Rakib Islam, our Bangladesh-based Co-Founder, showing our then 4-person team on the day they moved into our first office in Khulna. This humble beginning was the start of a really big idea.

The year was 2013, and that year I visited Rakib and the team in Bangladesh for the first time. This visit transformed both me personally and Left as a company. In time, I hope we can point back to this visit as something that helped transform the world too.
I will get to that story shortly, but before I do, I think it is important to share another video with you. It was taken on that first visit, and for the last 7 years, I have been describing this scene as a lucky capture of a “moment of genius” … that first spark of an idea.







Let me set the scene for what you are watching:

The power is out for the 3rd time that day. It is 38 degrees Celsius, and there is no air conditioning. Alan [sitting down] attempts to do a code check in while Rakib, Sabbir and Rashid look on. Alan’s shoulders slump as he gets a notice that the file download will take more than one hour on the dial up speed we had at the time and through which we had built many leading Internet brands. Rashid looks in to help while Rakib looks at his watch impatiently.

When I have talked about this video in the past, I have used it in the context of the moment of genius that led to the creation of a number of Left’s first products which focused on connectivity: first Talkify and Gossip, then YO!, then WAVE, then RightMesh, and now TeleMesh. They all solved the same problem, really, slow internet connectivity, which - as illustrated in the video - impacts people’s lives and productivity. But, I was wrong.  Sure, this was a moment of genius, but the real moment of genius was actually happening just beyond the glass wall. That’s where Chris and Ayesha Siddika, the Operations Manager for the Bangladesh offices, were sitting down one-on-one with every member of the team. Talking with them. Learning from them. Hearing stories about their families, their hopes, and their dreams.

And what were people saying? … They wanted to travel.

Why Travel?

Fifteen years ago, I was at a conference focussed on the travel industry, and a young woman, aged 19 or 20, filled with hope and optimism, gave a speech on “Why we love to travel.” She was a recent graduate of a hospitality program, and she had the world to look forward to.

She talked about a lot of things, but the one that has stuck with me the most was a piece of advice she gave. She implored the audience:

When you know someone who has just returned from a trip, ask them for the “best part”, their “highlight”, or their “favourite memory”.
When you ask this question, you will notice people’s eyes look back and to the right signalling they are looking deep into the part of their brain that has a specific memory. This is the hard-to-put-into-words part of travel: the smell of the saltwater; the sound of the waves as they crash ashore; the party music of a late-night disco; a swoosh of red dress from that person who flirted with you late into the evening.

Those memories are dopamine. Travel is a drug that we cannot get enough of. Travel enlivens the senses. And there is no other way than travel to experience the rush.

Food, Family, Friendship, and Fun

The memories that trip the senses typically reside in these four ‘f’s… the smell and taste of wonderful food, the laughter of family and sharing of traditions, the friendships you create, and the fun you have along the way.

As we wrote last year when we were articulating our ‘Why’ for Left Travel:

We believe travel broadens the mind, opens the heart, and gives you stories to tell. We want to create better travel experiences because travel brings people closer together, breaks down barriers, and shows us new possibilities.

That is our why. This is our purpose.

Travel broadens our minds because the people we meet and the things we experience give us new perspectives and open us up to a different way of doing things.

As I wrote above, my first trip to Bangladesh transformed the company and me personally. For me, it changed how I look at the world. I had always thought I had an open mind and was open to seeing a different way of doing things. “Think Different” was another one of our core values from the beginning, after all. But I realized without the transformational on-the-ground and in-the-culture experience, I tended to accept the status quo - as all humanity tends to do. We don’t like change. We like the way things are done because that is all that we know. This changes when you travel.

When you travel, life humbles you.

When we returned to Canada after that first trip, I said to Chris that emerging markets, and Bangladesh specifically, are undervalued, underestimated, and under appreciated. This realization, gained from travelling to Bangladesh, was the genesis of so much we do today. I also said we could change that.

When the world connects, it becomes just a little bit friendlier

The humbling experience of travel never impacted me as deeply as in 2018 when, on yet another trip to Bangladesh, we visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh on the border with Myanmar.

Sometimes when you travel, all experiences are not good experiences. But they still create memories, they create ideas, and if you think hard enough… you can learn from them.

For the past 6 years, we had been working on what we believed would be world-changing technology. Our visit to the refugee camp confirmed this. In the camp, we met people who had fled atrocities when they were small children, and now, here they were, 25 years later, and their circumstances hadn’t changed.

I never felt more fortunate, yet more ashamed for humanity. Yes, travel once again had humbled me, but it also opened my eyes to a really big idea.
So, what is it? What is this really big idea? I believe it is enabling the world to travel.

Travel with Purpose

Think back to what I wrote earlier about how long it takes to bring about change. Big ideas take time. They do not happen overnight.
Throughout my career, I have always tried to apply technology and marketing to solve the problems of today, but what I’ve realized we really need to do is solve the problems of tomorrow. This is “40-year Thinking”.

As Left approaches our 10th anniversary, I have been pondering the root causes of many of the world’s problems. So, while the United Nations has done an admirable job highlighting 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, I have been thinking deeply about how so many things got so bad in the first place. How did it get to be that Rohingyans have had entire generations knowing nothing but torment? How is the world standing by and doing nothing for the Uyghur in Western China? How did things deteriorate so badly in the United Kingdom and the United States that hatred and intolerance are now, once again, commonplace and cheered?

I believe the root cause of so much evil in the world is misunderstanding and mistrust. This festers over time, and the forces that like to protect the status quo – that oppose change – pick away at all of us, encouraging us to hate and blame. This cycle has to stop. It must stop.

So, while the slow drip, drip, drip of society slipping away keeps me awake at night, I also believe we have the power to change it. But, it is going to take time. And, it is going to take a Herculean effort from everyone: from businesses and consumers in all corners of the globe. This is “business with purpose.”

Big Ideas Take Time

I have been extremely fortunate to travel in my life. I have been to many countries as have many members of the team. We have tasted unique foods and seen amazing sights. But above all else, it has been the conversations and interactions, the new perspectives, the homes we have been invited into, and the open arms that have welcomed us across cultures that have opened our eyes and our hearts.

Oh, the power of that feeling. That feeling we all get when we travel. The feeling that causes us to inadvertently look back and to the right to seek out those memories of the people and the conversations. The feeling that causes those who travel to open their minds to the genius that is everywhere.

The feeling one gets when you realize that what is really is important, wherever you happen to call home, is that people have a shared sense of purpose: to make a mark so profound and positive that it improves the world for those who come long after us. At Left, we know what we need to do. We need to bring that feeling to the world. We need to make it easy and more affordable for the world to travel, open their hearts, and grow just a little bit closer, more tolerant, and more understanding.

For several years, Left’s focus has been on international travel, connecting travel sellers with those who want to see the world and experience that which it has to offer. Yes, the economics support it, but it is also the right thing to do if we want to affect change on a global scale. This is “business with purpose.”

When we became a B Corp, we became part of a global movement of companies that believe business can balance the needs of all stakeholders. And, while there are now more than 3,200 of us in 71 countries, this is only the beginning.

This is the long game. Big ideas take time. They do not happen overnight. But together, we can change the world.

Leadership Change Propels Left’s Purposeful Journey

Since our establishment in 2010, Left has been known by its slogan ‘We’re Left; we do things right’. Over the years, we've  grown, morphed, and pivoted, but we have always remained true to our commitment to use business and technology as a force for good in the world.

This year, as we approach our 10th anniversary, we are consolidating our mission to focus on travel as that force for good. Our Co-Founder and former CMO, John Lyotier, has stepped up to the role of Chief Executive Office to chart our course.

Driven by a firm belief that travel opens minds, breaks down barriers, encourages  peace, and drives economies, John will lead our mission to inspire ‘travel with purpose’.

“Purpose is about determination and intent,” says John, “It’s about understanding that actions have reactions and ensuring you are always doing things for the right reasons.”

John goes on to explain why our renewed focus is on travel: “Travel has always been in Left’s DNA - from the domain names and brands we built out early in our establishment, to the proprietary cloud-based ‘decision engine’ we developed to match travelers with their perfect destinations, to the global travel our team does every year between our offices in Canada and Bangladesh.”

“We know, first-hand, the benefits of travel, and we want to make it easier for all of us to experience them.  But, as a B Corp committed to our motto of ‘doing things right’, we can’t ignore the downsides. Now is the right time for us to focus our attention on using technology in travel as a force for good and to inspire ‘travel with purpose’.”

John’s mission as Left’s CEO is to lead Left through the lens of ‘Sustainable Commerce’ which, explained by John, means “balancing profit and growth with positive social and environmental impact. It means giving back when we gain, so we can all continue to grow.”

Chris Jensen, fellow Left Co-Founder and exiting CEO who has transitioned to Chief Operating Officer, supports John in his new role as CEO.  “John’s track record of growing profitable businesses, along with his unwavering commitment to create meaningful global impact with technology, makes him the right leader for this stage of Left’s evolution”, he states.

Left is the Canadian travel tech company that makes the world a better place by leveraging technology and empowering people to ‘travel with purpose’. Our mission is to increase the benefits and decrease the downsides of travel for people, business, and the planet. Partnering with the world’s largest travel retailers, our flagship brand, Left Travel, matches 5+ million travelers with their dream destinations each year, and our proprietary big data marketing engine, TravelMind fuels over $450 million in annual gross travel bookings. One Degree, our newest brand, encourages, recognizes, and rewards eco-friendly accommodations. Established in 2010, Left is a certified B Corporation and was recognized by B Lab as a “Best for the World” in 2019. Left is one of ‘Canada’s Top 100 Employers’ and is repeatedly honoured with awards that recognize us as one of the happiest, most meaningful, and fastest growing travel tech companies in Canada and North America.

Simon Jones

Affordable and Clean Energy

We need to ensure we can sustain life on the earth for as long as possible, and making sure that we can create the energy we need to survive without taking away from the earth, and creating clean energy is the start of this.

Climate Action

We've only got one earth so far, and until we can replace it we have to stop screwing it up. Reversing climate change and educating people about their impact on the environment should be one of our primary goals as a species.

Chris Jensen

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Most people are generally good by nature, but Strong Institutions and fair justice, are necessary to control people who wish to abuse power for their own self interest. Without curbing the abuse of power we cannot expect to live in peace.

Reduced Inequalities

We live in an interconnected world, which is leading to a greater sharing of knowledge, wealth and opportunities, but there are still too many huge inequalities. Each one makes our society worse, creates barriers and reinforces self interested prejudice - we can be so much better, but only if we reduce inequalities everywhere.

Joe Deobald

Quality Education

Providing quality education to the world, will unlock new ideas, processes, ways of doing things, and bring us into the future faster and together. Education is the key to the advancement and development of the human race and if everyone is given the chance to materials that allow them to expand their minds and abilities, the world will be an amazing place.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

By improving and advancing on industries, innovating new ideas and ways of doing things, and creating a stronger infrastructure, societies are able to improve life for humanity.

John Lyotier

Quality Education

Everything starts with education. Deloitte reported that a connected world would provide educational opportunities to 650m youth. If we can provide educational opportunities for all, this changes how the world functions and creates a base on which to build a better society.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.” In other words, government & global institutions are accountable to the people and not the other way around. However, we all have the opportunity to ensure that everyone has this right and can live in a world they have freedom of thought and expression.

Diana Moric

Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean Water & Sanitation will help reduce disease and malnutrition and maintain a sustainable environment.

Quality Education

Quality Education will give people the foundation to improve their quality of life as well as others in their community. It will also give them the skills to help solve other problems.

Product Prioritization: Speed Boat

Product Prioritization - Speed Boat

Identify what's slowing your product down

Welcome to 'Product Prioritization' - our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.
For our sixth installment, we take a look at a group activity called 'Speed Boat'.
Venting can be therapeutic, and it and also be incredibly insightful for your product team. There's valuable information you can take away from understanding what users or your teams hate in your product. The problem can be that complaints can in fast and furious and might not seem actionable.
It's really easy to focus on the trees instead of the forest and fix a lot of 'one-off' things for each complaint.
Early in my career, and in the early stages of a SaaS startup, if an influential user would complain, we'd rally the troops to delight them with a quick fix. Being a young company, we valued individual client satisfaction at the cost of scalability and sustainability.
It wasn't until later that I came to realize that the opportunity cost of delighting one client could sacrifice the happiness of many clients, especially when the customizations for clients meant that the product became bloated and slowed future development.
As I matured as a product manager, I was able to see complaints in perspective with the ecosystem of our product and industry. One great way to achieve this is with a prioritization technique called Speed Boat (I wish I used this back in 2008/2009).

What is Speed Boat and how does it work?

Get a group together in a room with a whiteboard. You can use a video call, but make sure you have a digital whiteboard that the group can interact with.

  • Sketch a speed boat, one that looks like it should go really fast. Feel free to do this before the meeting.
  • With the group, draw an anchor. Let the group know that the boat has the potential to be setting world speed records but the anchor is slowing it down.
  • Explain that the anchor is a representation of a feature that is keeping your product/platform from moving faster and being better (it could be a process or service depending on your company).

Now it's time for the group's participation. Have the group draw anchors and label them with the features they feel are slowing the product down and keeping it from being great.
*Bonus points if you want to have them use size to visualize how big of a problem the feature is to them. The bigger the anchor the more the feature is slowing the product down.
If people don't like to draw, you can have post-it notes ready for them.

Why I like this exercise.

I've found this activity can be relaxing, therapeutic, helps with team bonding, and a visual representation of the product. Doing an activity like this also seems to take the aggressiveness/anger out of complaints.
What you'll find is that most users, no matter how many complaints they have, still want to see the product improve and your role is to tap into that.
A few tips to ensure the meeting works well and the group stays focused:

  1. Don't let one user command all the attention. If this starts to happen, call out other group members to participate.
  2. Set ground rules so the group knows it's a brainstorming session and all anchors are welcome. Details can be sorted out later.
  3. You can change what the boat represents depending on what you'd like to get out of your session. It may represent a product line, a website, a project, etc.

Thanks to Folding Burritos for creating the Periodic Table of Product Prioritization Techniques.