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Upcoming Book by Gojko Adzic on Improving User Stories

by Ben Linders on Jan 16, 2014 |

Would better user stories improve software delivery? Gojko Adzic thinks applying small changes to the way teams manage their user stories can have a huge impact on the actual outcomes of their software delivery. In his blog post make me write a book and get it for free he announced that he wants to write a book about improving user stories:

I want to write about how to define better stories, how to spot and fix common issues, how to split them so that they are valuable but small, how to deal with difficult stuff like cross-cutting concerns, long-term effects and “non-functional” requirements, and above all, how to get the promise of agile and iterative delivery by ensuring that the right stuff gets discussed and agreed between delivery team members and stakeholders.

Gojko is the author of the books Specification by Example and Impact Mapping. The working title of his new book is "50 Quick Ideas to Improve your User Stories". He wants to write the book if at least 5000 people show that they are interested by pre-registering themselves in January:

I’ll use LeanPub to gauge interest and publish the book drafts as I’m working on it. So if this is interesting, head over to LeanPub and sign up for the book. I’ll keep the price free until the end of January or until 5K people sign up. If we reach that number, my New Year’s resolution will be to make another great book!

Currently (January 16) 2300+ readers have subscribed to the book. They will get a free eBook copy when it is published.

Earlier InfoQ interviewed Gojko Adzic on integrating business iterative delivery using Impact Mapping. At the Agile Tour Toronto 2013 Gojko presented Make Impacts, Not Software! InfoQ also published the article Feature Injection: three steps to success from Chris Matts & Gojko Adzic.

Several people have reacted on the blog post and tweets about the upcoming book on improving user stories. Some of the reactions:

Kent McDonald: Teams I run into definitely have difficulty properly organizing and describing the right thing to build. What I’m not so sure about is whether focusing specifically on user stories is the answer, unless you plan to tackle the idea “if we could only write our user stories better, all will be solved.”

Issues with user stories are certainly a symptom, not sure if they are the root cause. I think it more has to do with teams having a clear idea of what they are trying to build and why, alongside with an understanding of effective ways to describe that information. One issue with user stories is trying to make them more than what they really are.

Jean-Michel Garnier: User Stories / tickets "not defined well, not split well, not valuable enough in isolation", sounds familiar?
Rob Park: Yep… story breakdown, story splitting, story mapping… drives pretty much everything, but most teams I encounter aren’t good at it and don’t have the patience to deal with it, because it’s hard.
Andreas Ekström: First short chapter of @gojkoadzic new book published. Seems promising. Go get it (for free) : https://leanpub.com/50quickideas

Eddy Bruin: I guess first tip would be that user stories are not the end state, but the beginning of a conversation to have with your client ;-).

In my opinion it’s an art to write good user stories. I’ve seen teams that almost split the user stories up to single scenario’s and I’ve seen teams having user stories as big as epics. The range can be very wide. I think tips in your book might help set the bandwidth of how big/small user stories could be.

Nicolas Deverge: Awesome ! @gojkoadzic plans to write some kind of "User Story survival guide". Please signup to make this reality !

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