In this episode consultant, author, and agile thought leader Jeff Patton shows us how to use Story Maps to create a shared understanding of a feature and create thin slices that relate to the minimum viable product and additional releases.  Jeff also shares his thoughts on the proper way to use User Stories and how to avoid some common pitfalls with User Story Mapping.

After listening to this episode, you will understand:

  • Why Jeff believes the word “requirements” means “shut up”
  • What User Story Maps are and how they can create a shared understanding within your team
  • How to use Story Maps to create slices of functionality and break a large effort into smaller pieces
  • How to avoid the common pitfalls with User Story Mapping
  • Why User Stories aren’t a different way of writing requirements

Key Takeaways

A User Story Map is a useful tool for the team to understand the big picture, giving them the ability to see the entire breadth of the system and the various users and uses. It arranges user stories into a holistic model to help understand the system functionality while allowing you to identify gaps and slice functionality into releases.

Keep in mind that User Stories get their name from how they’re supposed to be used. They’re a different way of working, not a different way of writing requirements.

Story mapping follows a narrative that supports slicing and trade-offs to get the most value for the money. Use the map to create a shared understanding.

There’s never enough time and money to build everything that people ask, but if you’re paying attention, there’s generally enough time to make people happy. Focus on what people really need to be successful and build just that – not build what they say they need. It’s all about managing the time and resources we have and making as many people happy as we can.

After you have made your initial story map and have been working on the project for a while, you can re-map the feature because often things may have changed or you may have learned something new.

Avoid the common traps of story mapping:

  • Making the maps too detailed (especially early on)
  • Thinking in terms of features (Instead, think in terms of use and customer experience – the steps people take to achieve a goal)
  • Mapping the whole product instead of only mapping the feature or capability you’re changing.

Two things you can do today:

  1. Go to where your users are and talk to them
  2. Stop writing stories and start telling stories. Have conversations . . . get to the whiteboard and start drawing pictures.
Sample Story map

Click to view larger image


Links mentioned in this episode

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