Join us to review and create a new “picture” that depicts the fundamental elements of the perfect user story.  Using a series of small group discussions and collaborative activities, participants will review user story writing essentials including: story hierarchy; the 3-C’s of user stories; canonical story form; proper language to use within user stories; splitting stories using a thin vertical slice; capturing metrics for complexity and business value; and adding acceptance criteria to user stories.  During the workshop, participants will be challenged to sketch the outcome of their group collaboration to create their own visual depiction of the perfect user story that they will be able to take with them after the workshop to help them recall what they learn.  Workshop participants will leave having reviewed the essential elements to write effective user stories for agile software development, while also experiencing the power of sketch and visual thinking as tools that can enable improved communication and understanding of complex information.  All will be engaged and have a bit of fun creating their own unique sketch of the perfect user story while also admiring the visual creations of fellow workshop participants.

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Outline/structure of the Session

Presentation Background

This submission is a BRAND NEW workshop that was inspired Lynne Cazaly’s presentation of “Girl with the Chisel Tip Marker” at the Agile2014 conference in Orlando, FL.  In the brief period between Lynn’s presentation at Agile2014 and the deadline for AgileDC submissions, this workshop has been presented and well received in agile training workshops held during early August 2014.  The workshop consists of a series of small group discussions to review the elements of a user story.  As groups discuss each user story element, participants add the element to their sketch to reinforce why each element of the story is needed and capture the value/information provided by each element of a user story.  At the beginning of the workshop, we’ll touch briefly on the benefits of sketch and visual thinking, discuss the benefits provided by posting “visual information radiators” within a team area, and conduct a brief drawing “warm-up” to prepare participants to sketch the details of their user story discussions.  At the end of the workshop, participants share their sketches with their fellow group members and other workshop participants to add further reinforcement to the value that is provided by each element of a concise and fully-defined user story.


Workshop Timing (60 minutes) - elapsed time is shown in parentheses

  • 5 minutes (0:00 - 5:00) - Welcome, Background & value of sketching to convey complex information
  • 5 minutes (5:00 - 10:00) - Drawing Warm-Up (lines, boxes, circles, triangles)
  • 10 minutes (10:00 - 20:00) - Discuss and Sketch - Story Hierarchy, Story Form, Story Language/Lexicon
  • 10 minutes (20:00 - 30:00) - Discuss and Sketch - Story Sizing and Slicing
  • 10 minutes (30:00 - 40:00) - Discuss and Sketch - Metrics (Business Value & Complexity)
  • 5 minutes (40:00 - 45:00) - Discuss and Sketch - Acceptance Criteria
  • 10 minutes (45:00 - 55:00) - Group Sketch Sharing
  • 5 minutes (55:00 - 60:00) - Final Q&A and Thanks for attending


Presentation Materials:

As this is a sketch based workshop, presentation materials will be sketched live during the workshop - items sketched on tablet will be projected to the audience (A/V needs noted below)

Learning Outcome

  • Participants will review the essentials that go into effective user story writing including: story hierarchy, 3-Cs, INVEST, story sizing & thin vertical slicing, appropriate story language/lexicon, story syntax, business value & complexity metrics, and acceptance criteria.
  • Participants will challenge their visual thinking and sketch skills by creating their own sketch of the essential elements of user stories (sketch paper will be provided for participants).
  • Participants will engage in collaborative discussions / activities within small groups to review / reinforce the essential elements of user stories.

Target Audience

Any agile practitioner that writes and/or works with user stories, as well as those interested in sketch and visual thinking

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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