Assumptions for Facilitators
When is a story writing workshop called
Assumptions for the Product Owner
Who must be there? Who else should be
Ideal physical Space
Prepare for the workshop
After the workshop
Assumptions for Facilitators
Workshop Facilitators must
Be fluent in writing user stories
Have general knowledge of the product
domain and vision before the workshop
Establish trust with all of the audiences in
Have all of the preparations perfectly
complete at the time the workshop begins.
Scrum Masters are best at this.
When is a story writing
When the business has a product vision,
but has no backlog of desired value
When the product vision is expansive
enough that the backlog is too big for them
to explain in one sitting (50 stories? Create
your own rule-of-thumb)
When there are significant technical or
architectural implications that could impact
the product vision.
When you need to establish a shared
vision and approach with the product and
Assumptions for the Product
The product owner(s) exist.
A product vision has been established, and
can be explained to the team in 5 minutes
They are committed to:
Make themselves and any needed staff
available during the entire workshop
Explain the product vision to the group in 5
minutes or less
Prioritize and groom the backlog after the
workshop is complete.
Who must be there?
The product owner, and any other
product staff that will have input into the
The entire team
All must be physically present at the
Who ever shows up are the right people.
Some real-time collaboration tools possible,
but not at BAML
Who should be there?
Others with input to the final product:
Primary Objective: generate as many user
stories as possible, without impediment
Maintain focus on generating stories
○ No one can write anything wrong, unimportant, or
○ No prioritization, scheduling, or sizing
Destroy any impediments immediately
○ Lack of preparation
○ Outside distractions (physical or human)
○ Lack of openness, respect, and courage
Ideal physical space
Close space that supports complete
Lots and lots of open wall space
Walls that can accommodate drafting
dots or large sticky notes
Location for refreshments
Easy for everyone to get to and be on
Themes for groups of
Themes are useful ways to group stories
so that they can be prioritized
General business objectives:
○ “View Account Information”
○ “Loan Application Processing”
○ “New Account Marketing”
Prepare for the Workshop
User story format
Types of user stories
Product Vision (if available)
Half-page card stock or extra-large stickies
Enough sharpies for everyone
Theme cards (if themes exist)
Have everything in abundance – don’t allow for
the impediment of running short on supplies
Other useful tools
INVEST model poster (if everyone knows
what the INVEST model is)
List of personas
High level information architecture, story
maps, or wireframes that can inspire
Technology platform details (if they exist)
EVERYTHING on BIG VISIBLE CHARTS
Keep it simple. Tools should never be a
Prepare the participants
Elevator-pitch of the purpose
This is your chance to create the (and
Lombardi time – Be there 10 minutes
early, or you’re late
Be there for 100% of the time box.
Don’t plan on interruptions
When it’s over, it’s over
Prepare the room
Hang posters as high as possible – don’t
take up wall space from stories
Distribute blank cards, dots, and pens
around the room.
Remove anything else that could be a
Start on time
1 minute – Why are we here?
5 minutes or less – Who are we? (Name
and role only)
5 minutes – Product Vision
5 minutes – User Story Orientation
User Story Orientation
Why are we creating user stories?
To establish a backlog of work to obtain the
value represented in the vision
What is a user story?
Very simple explanation
Explain personas if necessary
Walk through one or two examples?
Good one: “As a user, I need to log in so that I
can use the system”.
What are the rules of the session?
What if I need help?
What are the rules of the
If a story comes into your head, write it on
a story card
You cannot write anything wrong
Product owner and development teams
(and everyone else) can work together to
generate ideas for stories
No sizing or estimation
If you have a question, ask one of the
Get to work
Allow people to get a rhythm going after
a few minutes
Workshops work best with “beginners
mind” – no advance strategy or motive
other than to get as many stories as
If someone looks lost, help them think
through a couple stories
Most sessions will develop into healthy
UX Designer Marketing
Capture all of the stories in digital format as soon as
possible after the workshop
Generate new beautiful story cards with the entire
output of the workshop
Create a story gallery, and allow everyone to visit it.
Let people add new stories to the gallery as they
come up with new ideas
Best case: get a team together, and have the gallery
ready within 24 hours.
Ask the product owner to acknowledge all the hard
work done, and inform them how grooming and
prioritization will proceed.