Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories – Now Available

web 750x750 gradient-01 The final version of my latest book, Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories, is now available on the Kindle store, and the print version will be available on Amazon soon.

This book will help you write better stories, spot and fix common issues, split stories so that they are smaller but still valuable, and deal with difficult stuff like crosscutting concerns, long-term effects and non-functional requirements. Above all, this book will help you achieve the promise of agile and iterative delivery: to ensure that the right stuff gets delivered through productive discussions between delivery team members and business stakeholders.

For the next seven days, the book will be sold on the Kindle store at half the normal price. To grab it at that huge discount, head over to the Kindle store (the price will double on 22nd October). Here are the quick links: Amazon.com UK DE FR ES IT JP CN BR CA MX AU IN

Zone of control vs Sphere of influence

In The Logical Thinking Process, H. William Dettmer talks about three different areas of systems:

  • The Zone of control (or span of control) includes all those things in a system that we can change on our own.
  • The Sphere of influence includes activities that we can impact to some degree, but can’t exercise full control over.
  • The External environment includes the elements over which we have no influence.

These three system areas, and the boundaries between them, provide a very useful perspective on what a delivery team can hope to achieve with user stories. Evaluating which system area a user story falls into is an excellent way to quickly spot ideas that require significant refinement. Continue reading

Forget the walking skeleton – put it on crutches

TL;DR version: Modern technology and delivery approaches, in particular the push towards continuous delivery, enable us take the walking skeleton technique much further. By building up the UI first and delivering the back-end using continuous delivery, without interrupting or surprising users, we can cut the time to initial value delivery and validation by an order of magnitude! Continue reading

Focus on key examples

It can be tempting to add a ton of scenarios and test cases to acceptance criteria for a story, and look at all possible variations for the sake of completeness. Teams who automate most of their acceptance testing frequently end up doing that. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, this is a sure way to destroy a good user story. Continue reading