Quick Reference: Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories

For teams that need a bit of inspiration during user story refinement workshops, here is a quick reference online mind map with all the ideas from the Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories. The mind map contains a short description and a reminder image for each idea, grouped into categories. Just tap/click a category to open up the details of ideas.

If you like this but you’d prefer something physical rather than electronic, we partnered with DriveThruCards to create a poker-style card deck with all idea summaries. For more info, see drivethrucards.com

Introducing Bug Magnet – an exploratory testing helper

bug magnet I just compiled a bunch of checklists and notes I often use for exploratory testing into a handy Chrome extension. Bug Magnet provides convenient access to common problematic values and edge cases, so you can keep them handy and access them easily during exploratory testing sessions. Just right-click an input field!

The extension introduces only a tiny overhead per page (<1k), and has no third party library dependencies, works completely passive, so it does not interfere with your web app execution in any way. It works on input fields, text areas, content editable DIVs. Of course, it’s completely opensource (MIT license), so you can easily extend it with your config.

To install the extension, and for more info, head over to http://gojko.github.io/bugmagnet.

The extension started from a need to scratch my own itch and make common experiments easily accessible, both as test data and as an inspiration for similar ideas. If this sounds useful, propose improvements :)

How to get the most out of impact mapping

im-contexts Ingrid Domingues, Johan Berndtsson and I met up in July this year to compare the various approaches to Impact Mapping and community feedback and investigate how to get the most out of this method in different contexts. The conclusion was that there are two key factors to consider for software delivery using impact maps, and recognising the right context is crucial to get the most out of the method. The two important dimensions are the consequences of being wrong (making the the wrong product management decisions) and the ability to make investments.

These two factors create four different contexts, and choosing the right approach is crucial in order to get the most out of the method:

  • Good ability to make investments, and small consequences of being wrong – Iterate: Organisations will benefit from taking some initial time defining the desired impact, and then exploring different solutions with small and directed impact maps that help design and evaluate deliverables against desired outcome.
  • Poor ability to decide on investments, small consequences of being wrong – Align: Organisations will benefit from detailing the user needs analysis in order to make more directed decisions, and to drive prioritisation for longer pieces of work. Usually only parts of maps end up being delivered.
  • Good ability to make investments, serious consequences of being wrong – Experiment: Organisations can explore different product options and user needs in multiple impact maps.
  • Poor ability to make investments, serious consequences of being wrong – Discover: The initial hypothesis impact map is detailed by user studies and user testing that converge towards the desired impact.

We wrote an article about this. You can read it on InfoQ.

Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories – Now Available

web 750x750 gradient-01 The final version of my latest book, Fifty Quick Ideas To Improve Your User Stories, is now available on the Kindle store, and the print version will be available on Amazon soon.

This book will help you write better stories, spot and fix common issues, split stories so that they are smaller but still valuable, and deal with difficult stuff like crosscutting concerns, long-term effects and non-functional requirements. Above all, this book will help you achieve the promise of agile and iterative delivery: to ensure that the right stuff gets delivered through productive discussions between delivery team members and business stakeholders.

For the next seven days, the book will be sold on the Kindle store at half the normal price. To grab it at that huge discount, head over to the Kindle store (the price will double on 22nd October). Here are the quick links: Amazon.com UK DE FR ES IT JP CN BR CA MX AU IN

Zone of control vs Sphere of influence

In The Logical Thinking Process, H. William Dettmer talks about three different areas of systems:

  • The Zone of control (or span of control) includes all those things in a system that we can change on our own.
  • The Sphere of influence includes activities that we can impact to some degree, but can’t exercise full control over.
  • The External environment includes the elements over which we have no influence.

These three system areas, and the boundaries between them, provide a very useful perspective on what a delivery team can hope to achieve with user stories. Evaluating which system area a user story falls into is an excellent way to quickly spot ideas that require significant refinement. Continue reading