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

Shared documents aren’t shared understanding.

“Shared documents aren’t shared understanding.”

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

“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!
“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
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

“As a Generic User I Want something that no user would actually want So That I can complete this template that I don’t understand.”
Don’t just fill out User Story templates blindly

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




User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

[Story title (try to be concise but clear)], WHO: [specifically name all the different whos], WHAT: [notes about what to build], WHY: [notes about the different reasons why]
Who, What, Why

“User stories have three critical aspects. We can call these Card, Conversation, and Confirmation.”

Essential XP: Card, Conversation, Confirmation by Ron Jeffries

“Card”: minimum reminder for what to talk about later; “Conversation”: back-and-forth dialogue to ensure we’re confident about Who, What, and Why; “Confirmation”: Unambiguous acceptance criteria to validate understanding of the story
Card, Conversation, Confirmation

If you’re not having rich, collaborative dialogue, you’re not using stories correctly.

“If you’re not getting together to have rich discussions about your stories, then you’re not really using stories.”

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

“Phew! Finished writing all the stories. Here you go! Tell me how it goes.” “This seems weird but I assume the PM knows best.”
1-way stories are bad
“So that part seems weird… why does it need to work that way?” “Oh, that’s a doozy… so you know when I mentioned…”
Use stories to facilitate collaborative dialogue
“I know it might sound weird but that’s how our work flow happens.” “Hmm… if we do this… would you be able to do something simpler instead?”
Use stories to facilitate direct collaboration with stakeholders and customers



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store