Grow Your Product One Exquisite User Story at a Time

Regardless of the number of teams working on a product, or the size of a product, working software and its value starts with and continues to grow one story at a time. Having exquisitely written, small user stories maximizes the speed of that growth and the coordination of work between teams, especially when there are many teams cooperating together. In our experience, a major impediment to writing good user stories in the real word is a lack of example stories. Learn how to write exquisite user stories across a wide variety of domain types using games! This session will introduce advanced user story writing and splitting through a combination of a short presentation and ten unique games which each provide a different insight into user story writing. Some are geared to the who/what/why of stories, others to the different aspects of INVEST, and still others to creating vertical slices and story splitting. There are more than 100 examples of “good” and “bad” tasks, stories, epics, products, and projects. The games are easy to learn, play, and teach so that you can experience good user stories in just a few minutes. Come play the games and then download them and share them with your friends and co-workers!


Outline/Structure of the Workshop

There are 25 minutes of presentation material/instruction including introduction interspersed throughout the session. The rest of the time is for participants to play the 10+ games.

Learning Outcome

How to write better user stories.

How to write smaller user stories.

How to identify stories that are really tasks and turn them into stories.

How to break down large user stories into smaller ones.

How to identify user stories that are missing elements.

How to gauge the negotiability, testability, and size of a user story.

Target Audience

Everyone. The best teams have a common understanding of user stories.

schedule Submitted 4 years ago

  • Mariya Breyter

    Mariya Breyter - Scaling Up and Out with Agile OKRs

    Mariya Breyter
    Mariya Breyter
    Agile Coach
    Goldman Sachs
    schedule 4 years ago
    Sold Out!
    90 Mins

    "You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation." ~ Homer Rice

    Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) have been well known for decades now, and John Doerr's book on Measuring What Matters became a hit immediately after it was published. However, while OKRs as a concept seems logical and straightforward, many companies struggle with implementing this concept in an aligned and inspirational way. As an Agile coach implementing OKRs in multiple large organizations, I experience three major anti-patterns:

    1. OKRs are implemented top-down. OKRs are not KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are top-down arbitrary numbers provided by management to each employee at the beginning of a long-term period (usually a year). OKRs are set by teams, not individuals, and aligned with organizational objectives. In that, OKRs are inspirational and encourage teams to set up the objectives that motivate them and inspire self-organizing teams to make a difference.
    2. OKRs are used to measure performance and define compensation. Unlike KPIs which are used to measure performance and this influences compensation and promotions, OKRs are not related to performance in any way. Numbers are easy to game, and connecting OKRs to performance would negate the purpose of those. OKRs need to be aspirational and hard to achieve, and by doing that, the teams challenge them to continuously grow and become high-performing. This is the reason OKRs are self-graded, not measured by the managers.
    3. OKRs are focused on activities, not results. Frequently, OKRs are focused on activities or tasks, e.g. provide 100 training sessions, hire 300 employees, create a Playbook covering 50 topics. While sometimes there is a reason for task-based key results, in most cases, the objective is either customer-related (e.g. customer satisfaction), business objective (e.g. revenue growth), employee-related (e.g. retention data), or a related goal. In either case, it forces teams to pivot if the initial set of activities does not bring the intended result and fail forward to pursue the goal. (OKR example)

    During the workshop, we will be playing two OKR-setting games. The goal of these games is to experience in practice how to avoid common mistakes and set up cascading OKRs bottom-up by empowering teams, aligning divisions, and keeping the organizational objectives in focus - all of this while keeping employees motivated and inspired. Finally, we will discuss how OKRs empower teams to self-organize while achieving shared goals within a scaled agile environment.