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User stories: from good intentions to bad outcomes - AgiNext 2020

User stories are one of the most visible artefacts of most agile methods and have generated large quantities of expert advice. In my experience, much of that advice is often misinterpreted.

In this session, we’ll explore several classic pieces of advice, to see how misunderstandings can lead to bad outcomes, despite the best intentions. The advice we’ll look at relates to:

– an acronym: INVEST, created by Bill Wake
– a technique: relative estimation (as used in Planning Poker, created by James Grenning)
– a template: Connextra (As-A/I-Want/So-That), created by Rachel Davies

You’ll leave with a clearer appreciation of user stories and an understanding of just how context-sensitive most advice is.

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User stories: from good intentions to bad outcomes - AgiNext 2020

  1. 1. @sebrose h)p:// Seb Rose User stories: from good intentions to bad outcomes
  2. 2. @sebrose h)p:// As a <role> I want <goal/desire> So that <benefit> Template - Connextra
  3. 3. @sebrose h)p:// Breakout room Discuss: • Why do user stories exist? • What is the Connextra template for? 5 minutes
  4. 4. @sebrose h)p:// Placeholder for a conversa;on
  5. 5. @sebrose h)p:// … to detailed small increments From placeholder for a conversa;on …
  6. 6. @sebrose h)p:// The Connextra template has let us forget why user stories were invented
  7. 7. @sebrose h)p:// I N V E S T Acronym
  8. 8. @sebrose h)p:// Independent Nego;able Valuable Es;matable Small Testable I N V E S T Acronym
  9. 9. @sebrose h)p:// Breakout room Valuable Define the meaning of : (in the context of user stories and INVEST) 5 minutes
  10. 10. @sebrose h)p:// Minimum marketable feature (MMF)? What is value? Potentially shippable increment? Demonstrable functionality? How might these interact with “Small”???
  11. 11. @sebrose h)p:// Value is anything that: - increases knowledge - decreases risk - generates useful feedback
  12. 12. @sebrose h)p:// INVEST leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation
  13. 13. @sebrose h)p:// Technique - story points
  14. 14. @sebrose h)p:// - Have no units - Are rela;ve - Are team specific - Es;mated by people doing the work Story points - refresher
  15. 15. @sebrose Story points are rela;ve
  16. 16. @sebrose h)p://
  17. 17. @sebrose h)p:// ... these studies which have for a few years now given rise to the claim that "research shows that people are better at relative than absolute estimation" do not in fact seem to square with that claim. This doesn't entail that relative estimation doesn't work - only that it is not proven.
  18. 18. @sebrose h)p://
  19. 19. @sebrose Is it small, or just far away?
  20. 20. @sebrose h)p:// Story points continue to cause massive dysfunction
  21. 21. @sebrose h)p://smartbear.com Story points - apology
  22. 22. @sebrose h)p:// hHps://
  23. 23. @sebrose h)p:// Bad outcomes That doesn’t work here!
  24. 24. @sebrose h)p:// Examples revisited
  25. 25. @sebrose h)p:// No silver bullet Not only are there no silver bullets now in view, the very nature of software makes it unlikely that there will be any. Frederick P. Brooks "No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering,"  Computer, Vol. 20, No. 4 (April 1987) pp. 10-19
  26. 26. @sebrose h)p:// PaNerns can help us filter •Name •Problem •Context •Forces •Solution •Resulting Context •Known Uses •Related Patterns • •Context •Forces
  27. 27. @sebrose h)p:// Takeaways Understand the “Why”Always consider your context Bad outcomes don’t mean the advice was bad
  28. 28. Seb Rose Twitter: @sebrose Blog: http:/ E-mail: