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User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product 1st Edition
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From the Publisher
Who Should Read This Book?
You should, of course. Especially if you bought it. I, for one, think you’ve made a wise investment. If you’re just borrowing it, you should order your own now, and return the one you’ve borrowed when the new one arrives at your door. However, reading this book offers specific reasons and benefits for practitioners in specific roles:
- Product managers and user experience (UX) practitioners in commercial product companies should read this book to help them bridge the gap between thinking about whole products and user experience and thinking about tactical plans and backlog items. If you’ve been struggling to get from the vision you’re imagining to the details your teams can build, story maps will help. If you’ve been struggling to help others imagine the experience of—and empathize with—the users of your product, story mapping will help. If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to incorporate good UX and product design practice, this book will help. If you’ve been working to incorporate Lean Startup–style experimentation in the way you work, this book will help.
- Product owners, business analysts, and project managers in information technology (IT) organizations should read this book to help them bridge the gap between their internal users, stakeholders, and developers. If you’ve been struggling to convince lots of stakeholders in your company to get on the same page, then story maps will help. If you’ve been struggling to help developers see the big picture, story maps will help.
- Agile and Lean process coaches with the goal of helping individuals and teams improve should read this book. And, as you do, think about the misconceptions people in your organization have about stories. Use the stories, simple exercises, and practices described in this book to help your teams improve.
- Everyone else. When using Agile processes, we often look to roles like product owners or business analysts to steer a lot of the work with stories, but effective use of stories requires that everyone get the basics. When people don’t understand the basics, you hear complaints that 'stories aren’t well written' or that they’re 'too big,' or that they 'don’t have enough detail.' This book will help, but not in the way you think. You and everyone else will learn that xxiv | Preface stories aren’t a way to write better requirements, but a way to organize and have better conversations. This book will help you understand what kinds of conversations you should be having to help you get the information you need when you need it.
This Book Is for You If You’re Struggling with Stories
Because so many organizations have adopted Agile and Lean processes, and stories along with them, you may fall into one or more of the traps caused by misconceptions about stories. Traps like these: (below). If you’ve fallen into any of those traps, then I’ll try to wipe away the misconceptions that lead to those traps in the first place. You’ll learn how to think of the big picture, how to plan and estimate in the large (and in the small), and how to have productive conversations about what users are trying to accomplish, as well as what a good piece of software needs to do to help them.
- Because stories let you focus on building small things, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. The result is often a “Franken-product” where it’s clear to everyone using the product that it’s assembled from mismatched parts.
- When you’re building a product of any significant size, building one small thing after another leaves people wondering when you’ll ever be done, or what exactly you’ll deliver. If you’re the builder, you wonder, too.
- Because stories are about conversations, people use that idea to avoid writing anything down. Then they forget what they talked about and agreed to in the conversations.
- Because good stories are supposed to have acceptance criteria, we focus on getting acceptance criteria written, but there’s still not a common understanding of what needs to be built. As a consequence, teams don’t finish the work they plan on in the timeframe they planned to.
- Because good stories are supposed to be written from a user’s perspective, and there are lots of parts that users never see, team members argue that "our product doesn’t have users, so user stories won’t work here."
About the Author
Over his past two decades of experience, Jeff Patton has learned there’s no “one right way” to design and build software, but there’s lots of wrong ways.
Jeff makes use of over 15 years experience with a wide variety of products from on-line aircraft parts ordering to electronic medical records to help organizations improve the way they work. Where many development processes focus on delivery speed and efficiency, Jeff balances those concerns with the need for building products that deliver exceptional value and marketplace success.
Jeff has focused on Agile approaches since working on an early Extreme Programming team in 2000. In particular he specializes in integrating effective user experience design and product management practice with strong engineering practice.Jeff currently works as an independent consultant, agile process coach, product design process coach, and instructor. Current articles, essays, and presentations on variety of topics in Agile product development can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com and in Alistair Cockburn’s Crystal Clear. Jeff is founder and list moderator of the agile-usability Yahoo discussion group, a columnist with StickyMinds.com and IEEE Software, a Certified Scrum Trainer, and winner of the Agile Alliance’s 2007 Gordon Pask Award for contributions to Agile Development.
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Top Customer Reviews
User Story Mapping looks like the spinal cord to his ideas, but there's much more to it, that's why the title may be misleading. A kind of judgement mistake Jeff tries to prevent right on the first few pages of his book.
It's totally worth a read, being that kind of book that you can start experimenting the knowledge while you read it. Those with lesser experience with agile/lean methodologies may be too literal following some of the advices, while more experienced folks may find some parts of the book dispensable. For the latter, remember that it's always useful to revisit the basics in order to deal with cognitive biases that may be lurking in.
This book is aimed more at Product Managers, but I think its extremely relevant for anyone in the software development process. I'm in QA and thought it was rather insightful.
This is one of a great number of simple Jeff quotations that speak volumes and make this book one of the most value-packed, practical books about software product development that I know of. I believe that the book is a must-read for any practitioner of agile/lean software development methods, and potentially anyone involved in software product development.
A great thing that separates Jeff’s writing from others is his use of storytelling - he chooses simple tales from his real-world experience that many people can relate to. Jeff’s mastery of storytelling and vast experience give him the ability to get fairly complex ideas across in a way that makes them seem so simple and practical, I feel like I’ve always known them.
I could go on about Jeff, but enough about him…back to the content of his book.
I wouldn’t have thought that a book focused on story mapping - one single practice amongst the myriad of available practices that sprung (in one way or another) from the agile community - would be one of the 3 core books I (as an experienced agile/lean coach/consultant for over 15 years) recommend to my clients seeking to become more lean or agile (whether or not they are introducing or using agile or lean process specifics). This book is exactly that, because the book is about much more than story mapping, though it uses this simple practice as a frame to:
• explore some of the core problems with software product development over the past decades
• establish a more powerful language of product management planning, strategy, and execution with “Impact, Outcome, and Output”, opportunity thinking, and product discovery teams
• really identify better ways to deliver product incrementally and iteratively
• collaborate and discover together - product development teams and customers -
• introduce lean thinking as we “minimize output, maximize outcome and impact”
• incorporate design thinking into product discovery
• correct many of the frighteningly-common misinterpretations of agile methods
An example of the most important core problems in software development is that of "requirements". The quote above summarizes the essence of this problem - that traditional software development has sought to reduce a complex, dynamic, and continuously evolving concept (learning and understanding what users will need in their products) to a simple set of written instructions, or “requirements”. After reading this book, anyone may feel empowered to discard the word “requirements” completely and replace it with a simple yet powerful approach to “achieving shared understanding”. Making this fundamental, yet simple change to how we approach product development has a host of benefits - from higher quality, to faster delivery, to better estimation, to better products and more successful, happier customers.
And this is just one of many powerful learnings from the book...