Superpower #14 – I am Groot (Story Writing)

I am Groot

…but we’ll get back to that. Today we’re talking about CREATION…of stories.

Kurt-Ego
This dude can CREATE

You might have read my post on the Zealot Tree, so you know I lean toward a practical “do what works” agile, though I think the Agile Manifesto is something you should try to follow. HOWEVER, I love standards and templates because they make me efficient and make my process repeatable. And that brings us to my process for story writing.

Story stucture

There is a widely used format in agile/scrum that goes:

“As a [person or persona], I want [some feature] so [some user goal].”

And when I was both learning and helping coach a team through an agile transition, I realized that many of our business-analysis-turned-product-owners were writing stories like requirements. That is, they would be missing the person and the goal. So a story like, “As a blogger, I want to link to other websites easily, so I can link to funny superhero memes and bits of agile wisdom,” became “Link to websites.”

The issue with that is the dev team could implement this in so many ways and they have no context to understand what is needed or even to ask clarifying questions. So I made a template (here is a version – it opens in a new tab). And then, comically, the product owner returned with something like this:

Story-template
I am Groot?

Fill in the blanks, literally

It had no [person] and no [reason] which wasn’t super awesome, but the format revealed that and gave us a chance to talk about why stories have this structure. A well structured story gives context, allows for questions, and lets the team think creatively about how to solve the problem. I would say try this if you are new to agile, but I still use the template today to keep myself honest as I’m doing early story discovery. It also helps that you can copy and paste the individual columns when you have a bunch of stories for the same user. Let me know what you think if you try it.

Rocket-and-Groot
I am Groot

So like I said at the very beginning in grootish(?), Welcome to the Real Frickin’ Story Writing Process…only I didn’t say frickin’.

I am Groot (click here if you have no idea who Groot is).

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