How User Stories were born

“Agile/Lean movement” and Scrum in particular, made short cycles a key factor in the process. May it be cycles of planning, cycles of development or cycles of releases, there was a big arrow pointing at *short cycles* to figure out how to get more accurate, more responsive, more productive faster.

Due to the short cycles, the Features or “Product Backlog Item”, sometimes, just didn’t fit in. “My 2 months Feature won’t enter our 2 weeks Sprint!”. Because Sprint is, wrongfully in my opinion, being highly tied to releases, it raised a need to allow breaking Feature to multiple Sprints. The question is “how to break it right?”.

User Stories came to offer a methodology to assist in this need. The idea is to detail the Feature in multiple end-to-end flows (which good Feature already detail) and implement them one by one instead of trying to implement the entire Feature at once. Because User Stories are subset of a Feature, in the same language as a Feature, it felt that these stories can replace Features and Sprint will contain them as smaller execution parts. This will obviously “solve” the mismatch of Feature size to Sprint size.

I claim that it didn’t solve anything at the core level. Even worse, my feeling is that User Stories introduced a dangerous abstraction, one that should be used carefully. More on it in my next post…


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