Before we speak about user stories, since it’s the Cricket World Cup season, imagine you are the coach of a cricket team. You are responsible for coaching individual players and extracting the best value from each of them. You cannot come to the room with a textbook “one size fits all” approach. The advice that works for a seasoned, experienced player might not work for a small-town kid who has just got into the team. You basically look at the individual player, look at what his strengths, weaknesses, AND AMBITIONS are, and devise your strategy.
Let’s set that thought aside for a minute.
What is the textbook definition of a user story: A user story is a short, simple description of a feature told from the perspective of the person who desires the new capability, usually a user or customer of the system. 1
The keyword here is “perspective”.
From a cricket coaching standpoint, a session on hand-eye coordination is not as important to a pace bowler as it is to a slip catcher. You need to know the needs of each of your customers (players).
User Stories are a non-complex way to define/document this.
Why are user stories so effective?
User stories have gained widespread adoption in the industry for specific reasons. Just as a driver must know where the brakes are, it is equally crucial for a product manager or owner to understand how to craft a user story.
Before we dive into the techniques of writing a user story, let us understand the key principles behind what makes user stories effective.
- User-Centric Development: Know Thy Customers – User Stories put the customer and user front and center, ensuring that your product caters to their needs, preferences, and expectations. It’s like the DJ who knows what songs that crowd would enjoy. To be good at your job, you need to know it.
- Clear Communication: Speaking the Same Language – User Stories create a common language, bridging the gap between stakeholders and development teams. The language and format of a user story are so simple yet packed with insight that everyone across the board becomes very clear about the mission.
- Prioritization and Focus: Move What Matters – User stories help prioritize and focus by clearly defining user needs and their associated value, enabling teams to understand which features or tasks are most important. User stories help by making it easy for everyone to talk about what’s most important and ensure that the team works on the most crucial tasks that match what users want.
- Testability: No Guesswork, Only Goals – User stories have clear goals, making it easier to know when they’re done and helping teams stay on track. Since you start with the proposed impact of a change, it is easy to test and measure the impact of the feature.
How to write a great user story
Now let us get on a journey and write the user story of a cricket coach giving training on hand-eye coordination to his slip fielder.
Here are the different steps to writing a great user story:
Identify the user or persona for whom the story is relevant.
Define what the user wants to achieve or the problem they need to solve.
To enhance slip-catching by improving hand-eye coordination.
Describe the value or benefit the user will gain from the story.
Better slip catches, reducing missed opportunities.
Specify the conditions that must be met for the story to be considered complete.
Successfully catching 9 out of 10 simulated slip catches during practice sessions.
Assign a priority to the story, indicating its relative importance.
High (Catches win matches!)
Estimate the effort or complexity of the story, often using story points.
T-shirt Size: M (Considering we are doing a fair job already in the slip-catching department)
Engage in discussions and collaborations to clarify and refine the story.
Engage in discussions to determine the specific drills and exercises that will improve hand-eye coordination for slip-catching.
Keep the story concise and easy to understand, typically following the “As a [role], I want [goal] so that [benefit]” format.
As a slip fielder, I want to improve my hand-eye coordination to catch more confidently and contribute to the team’s success.
User stories have proven to be highly effective in the industry because they put the customer at the forefront of development, ensuring that products meet their needs. These stories facilitate clear communication, bridging the gap between stakeholders and development teams, and help in prioritizing and focusing on what truly matters. With clear goals and objectives, user stories eliminate guesswork and enable teams to stay on track.
With user stories, you have a tool that keeps everyone on the same page and ensures that you’re working on what truly matters. So, whether you’re on a cricket pitch or in the software development field, user stories are your winning strategy.
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