Some sketches about using User Stories to facilitate shared understanding: bad, better, best.

Jason Yip
3 min readJul 4, 2022

See also Users Stories to facilitate iterative, incremental development.

Shared documents aren’t shared understanding.

“Shared documents aren’t shared understanding.”

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

Bad (😞): Assuming shared documents is the same as shared understanding.

“If we write it down, we’re guaranteed to have shared understanding.” “I just skimmed it.” “I haven’t really read it but I assume it’s fine.”
If we write it down, then we’re guaranteed to have shared understanding!

Better (🤔): Using stories to facilitate conversation.

“Let’s talk about how we should do A.” “Who’s asking for A? What do they want? Why do they want it?”
Use stories to facilitate conversation

Best (😄): Converting conversations to acceptance criteria to validate shared understanding.

Conversation translated to a table with input and outputs.
Validate understanding with acceptance criteria

The essence of stories is how they’re used, not how they’re written.

“Stories get their name from how they should be used, not what should be written.”

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

Bad (😞): Filling out User Story templates blindly (no matter how confusing and contrived the result).

AKA Template Zombie

See also Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies by Tom DeMarco et al.

Better (🤔): Who, What, Why (as a simple reminder of what to consider).

“..I’ll first give them a short, simple title, and then under it I’ll write:

Who:

What:

Why:”

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

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Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl