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Maps over Backlogs: User Story Mapping to Share the Big Picture


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A flat backlog presents problems understanding context of individual items. Determining the value of a user story in a vacuum is difficult, if not impossible. We need the big picture! Without understanding the big picture, how do we know if we have identified all the stories? How do we communicate the context of a user story in the big picture? How do we really know what is necessary for a minimum viable product?

User story mapping is a technique that can help us keep the big picture front and center. It was developed to build shared understanding and display the stories within the context of the user narrative. We will discuss the challenges with flat backlogs, how user story mapping can help with those, do an activity to build a story map and discuss how to integrate this technique into the work you’re already doing.

Published in: Technology

Maps over Backlogs: User Story Mapping to Share the Big Picture

  1. 1. Maps over Backlogs User Story Mapping to Share the Big Picture Mike Clement Founding Software Craftsman at Greater Sum
  2. 2. Luke Barrett via User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  3. 3. Luke Barrett via User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  4. 4. Luke Barrett via User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  5. 5. Luke Barrett via User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  6. 6.  Backbone or Narrative 
  7. 7. And then… and then… and then…
  8. 8.  Detail
  9. 9. Activity
  10. 10. User tasks are the basic building blocks of a story map.
  11. 11. • Close your eyes, and think back to the moment you woke up this morning. • What’s the first thing you recall doing? Now, open your eyes, and write it down on a sticky note. • Then, think of the next thing you did. Got it? Now, write it on the next sticky, peel it off, and place it next to the first one. • Then keep going. • Keep writing sticky notes until you’ve gotten ready for work (or left the house.
  12. 12. Narrative Flow • Storytelling order from left to right • Stack items that happen at about the same time • Add missing details
  13. 13. •Take a minute and think about what you did yesterday morning. •Think of mornings when things went wrong. •Think about your ideal morning.
  14. 14.  Backbone or Narrative 
  15. 15. Build a Backbone • Activities aggregate tasks directed at a common goal. • Summary – Getting cleaned up • Functional – Take a shower, Brush teeth, Do hair • Sub-functional – Adjust water temp, wash body, wash hair, rinse, turn off water, dry off
  16. 16. “For every story you write, you need to put three into your backlog of stories.” Alistair Cockburn
  17. 17. “Well, if you have to write something on them, then write what you want on the first card, and on the second card write ‘Fix the first card.’ Then on the third card, write ‘Fix the second one.’ If you aren’t going around this cycle three times for each story, you’re not learning.” Alistair Cockburn
  18. 18. User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  19. 19. User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  20. 20. User Story Mapping, Jeff Patton
  21. 21. “Do you have to do it all?”
  22. 22. “Do you need all of this to go live before <insert upcoming deadline here>?”
  23. 23. Focus on Outcomes
  24. 24. Slicing
  25. 25. Slice 1 Slice 2 And Beyond
  26. 26. Prioritize Outcomes, Not Stories
  27. 27. Activity
  28. 28. “Get out the door in a few minutes”
  29. 29. Picture’s worth a 1000 words?
  30. 30. Documents are like Vacation Photos
  31. 31. Get together and use the document to tell a story the same way I used my vacation photo to tell you my story.
  32. 32. Revisit and refine
  33. 33. Discussion
  34. 34. Story Mapping Resources • • User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton •
  35. 35. Mike Clement • @mdclement • • • • Greater Sum • @thegreatersum • • Software Craftsmanship Atlanta • Find us on • Limited WIP Society Atlanta • Find us on