Questions not Stories, Agile 2013

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User Stories are a fantastic agile tool, but they are not the only way for the product owner and team to reach a mutual understanding of what needs to be delivered.

This workshop explores the use of hypotheses and experiments from the Lean Startup community as an alternative to user stories.

We examine ways for agile teams to reframe stories (e.g. As a traveller I want to know the weather so that I can plan my journey) as a series of hypothesis (e.g. Supplying weather information will increase ticket sales) that are validated by experiments (e.g. Does supplying hard-coded weather data for our two most popular routes increase ticket sales?).

Having the whole team involved in discovering business value ensures alignment across the organisation. You will see how using hypotheses and experiments brings advantages to the development team, the customer, and the user - ensuring we only build valuable features.

Stop telling stories about your product - start asking questions.

(presented at Agile 2013)

Published in: Technology, Business

Questions not Stories, Agile 2013

  1. 1. Questions not Stories Agile 2013, Aug 7 2013 Adrian Howard (@adrianh) quietstars.com
  2. 2. Hello!
  3. 3. Please ask questions
  4. 4. Disclaimer 1: Eh?
  5. 5. Disclaimer 2: I could be confused and stupid
  6. 6. Disclaimer 3: Be careful if you’re new to agile
  7. 7. Who am I?
  8. 8. I <heart> feedback
  9. 9. Swear Jar
  10. 10. (obligatory cute animal slide)
  11. 11. Who are you?
  12. 12. Exploring user stories
  13. 13. Chatham House Rule applies please
  14. 14. “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”
  15. 15. Exercise • Everybody write a user story • Real (if you can) or made up
  16. 16. Exercise • Each person explain their user story to the group • Card. Conversation. Confirmation.
  17. 17. Stories?
  18. 18. Relax
  19. 19. Why stories?
  20. 20. Stories are statements
  21. 21. Stories describe the product
  22. 22. Product owner says “X will return business value”
  23. 23. Splitting & Thinning
  24. 24. Stories = known knowns
  25. 25. What about known unknowns?
  26. 26. What about unknown unknowns?
  27. 27. The Lean Startup “A true experiment follows the scientific method. It begins with a clear hypothesis that makes predictions about what is supposed to happen. It then tests those predictions empirically”
  28. 28. The Lean Startup • Come up with hypothesis • Design experiment • Run experiment • Validate/Invalidate hypothesis • Repeat
  29. 29. The Lean Startup
  30. 30. Moving from Stories to Hypotheses
  31. 31. As a potential user, I want register using twitter so that I don’t have to fill out a registration form.
  32. 32. Step 1
  33. 33. As a potential user, I want register using twitter so that I don’t have to fill a registration form ?
  34. 34. As a potential user, I want register using twitter so that I don’t have to fill a registration form ?
  35. 35. Step 2: Ask why? • Increase # registrations? • More social media penetration for marketing? • Allow notification features?
  36. 36. Step 3: What’s our hypothesis?
  37. 37. Allowing users to register with twitter will drop abandoned registrations by 5%
  38. 38. Exercise • 5m • Pair up • Pick a story card and apply: 1. Question mark 2. Why (or “whys”) ? 3. Generate hypothesis
  39. 39. Building Experiments
  40. 40. Experiments produce learning not product
  41. 41. Experiments can get thrown away
  42. 42. Focus on cost & feedback time
  43. 43. Allowing users to register with twitter will drop abandoned registrations by 5%
  44. 44. Example • Built fake “register with twitter” link which led to nice error message • Released to segment of customers on live site • Measured how many new users tried it • <1% - hypothesis invalid
  45. 45. Not just A/B testing
  46. 46. Example •Zappos •Annual sales > US$1 billion •Hypothesis: Is there a demand for superior online shoe shopping •Experiment: Took photos from shoe shops, came back and bought them full price if customer bought them online Example from The Lean Startup, p57-58
  47. 47. Exercise • 5m • Pair up • Pick a hypothesis • Come up with as many ways to validate the hypothesis as possible
  48. 48. Why hypothesis?
  49. 49. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
  50. 50. Hypotheses talk about business value directly
  51. 51. It’s hypotheses before, during and after development
  52. 52. Alignment on value
  53. 53. Helps build an experiment culture
  54. 54. Encourages value-oriented infrastructure
  55. 55. Splitting/thinning changes
  56. 56. Where’s the user?
  57. 57. Success changes
  58. 58. Where are the running, tested features?
  59. 59. Where’s the delight?
  60. 60. Horde of zombie experiments
  61. 61. What happens when I can’t validate cheaply?
  62. 62. What about non- startup contexts?
  63. 63. Some folk find reality hurts
  64. 64. Further Reading • Lean Startup by Eric Ries • The Startup Owner's Manual by Steve Blank • Running Lean by Ash Maurya • The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank • The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development by Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlaskovits
  65. 65. Remember your feedback forms
  66. 66. @adrianh quietstars.com slideshare.net/adrianh adrianh@quietstars.com Questions

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