Telling Stories For Scrum Day


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My talk at the first SA Scrum Day in Cape Town.

Topic: Better user stories: Ok, so you’ve read all the books and know all about the INVEST principle, and you’ve even got nicely printed cards on which to write your stories, but your team still misunderstands what some stories are about, or estimates them inaccurately. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I’ll be presenting a few quite simple tricks I’ve learnt (or stolen) that have made all the difference to our process at 20FourLabs.

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  • Find commonalities
    Clay Shirky anecdote about Obama
  • Telling Stories For Scrum Day

    1. 1. TELLING STORIES Scrum stories as collaborative conversations
    2. 2. We all know the theory... • Good Stories should be: • Independent • Negotiable • Valuable • Estimable • Testable • ...but in practice it’s often difficult
    3. 3. Product owners as novelists • Creative • Passionate • Perfectionistic • Constantly on deadline • Dedicated • Misunderstood • Lonely
    4. 4. Product owners as bards • Creative • Passionate • Open to change (“riffing”) • Live in the moment • Have perspective • Seek to understand • Involve their audience
    5. 5. That makes good stories... • Conversations... • Highly malleable... • Collaborative... • Good enough... • ...not manuscripts • ...not immutable • ...not solitary • ...not perfect
    6. 6. That makes good stories... • A product of understanding... • Open • A song that you can sing along to... • ...not the source of understanding • ...not self-contained • ...not a novel that you get lost in
    7. 7. Very pretty – but how do I use it? • (good) conversations typically aren’t one sided • Ask your users / customers • Ask your peers • Ask your developers
    8. 8. Asking your customers • Resist the urge to jump straight into features • Try to find out what their problems are “It takes so long to load a new order” “I have trouble finding other bloggers” “My friends want to comment but they don’t want to have to sign in”
    9. 9. Asking your customers (2) • Ask as many of them as you can • Enable them to talk to each other • Ask them questions in return – “Would having all the form elements on one page make loading products quicker?” – “Would enabling search by username help?” – “Would you like to allow anonymous comments on your blog?”
    10. 10. Asking your peers • Find out if their customers have similar problems... • ...and how (if) they solved them • Use social media: – – Forums – Blogs
    11. 11. Asking your developers • It’s a discussion right from the start • They may know better (or have better ideas) • Be prepared to split, combine and scrap at a moment’s notice • There’s a difference between vague and open • INVEST is a test, not a starting point
    12. 12. Good stories have... • Great characters (user modelling) • A coherent plot (product backlog) • Surprise twists and turns (inspect and adapt)
    13. 13. Horror stories • “Create Solution” • “As a user I want the database optimised” • “When I publish articles that I’ve re-edited after publishing they don’t get published immediately”
    14. 14. Fairy tales • “As a user I want an advanced payment gateway that processes payments very fast” • “As an administrator I want a mobile console that immediately alerts me of any abuse via SMS and lets me block the person’s IP”
    15. 15. Epic poems • “As an advanced user I want a contact management interface with three buttons: Create, Update and Delete and a list of my contacts with checkboxes, names, email addresses and phone numbers with a sort option for each column”
    16. 16. Good stories... • “As a reader I want to be able to browse through a blog's archive pages” • “As an Administrator I want the system to send a registration email to a new user so that their email can be confirmed by way of activating their account” • “As an author, I want the spell checker to ignore words with numbers so that only truly misspelled words are indicated" Thanks to: David McLean and Michael James
    17. 17. Scrum is... • ...a certainty engine • ...about overcoming fear • ...eating elephants one bite at a time • ...about the journey • Your stories aren’t the maps... • ...they are the conversations along the way