Write a Great User Story

This is a great post from the folks at RallyDev!

What is a user story?

A user story represents a small piece of business value that a team can deliver in an iteration. While traditional requirements (like use cases) try to be as detailed as possible, a user story is defined incrementally, in three stages:

  • The brief description of the need
  • The conversations that happen during backlog grooming and iteration planning to solidify the details
  • The tests that confirm the story’s satisfactory completion

Well-formed stories will meet the criteria of Bill Wake’s INVEST acronym:

Independent We want to be able to develop in any sequence.
Negotiable Avoid too much detail; keep them flexible so the team can adjust how much of the story to implement.
Valuable Users or customers get some value from the story.
Estimatable The team must be able to use them for planning.
Small Large stories are harder to estimate and plan. By the time of iteration planning, the story should be able to be designed, coded, and tested within the iteration.
Testable Document acceptance criteria, or the definition of done for the story, which lead to test cases.

Why use user stories?

  • Keep yourself expressing business value
  • Avoid introducing detail too early that would prevent design options and inappropriately lock developers into one solution
  • Avoid the appearance of false completeness and clarity
  • Get to small enough chunks that invite negotiation and movement in the backlog
  • Leave the technical functions to the architect, developers, testers, and so on

How do I write user stories?

When getting started with stories, a template can help ensure that you don’t inadvertently start writing technical tasks:

As a <user type>, I want to <function> so that <benefit> .


  • As a consumer, I want shopping cart functionality to easily purchase items online.
  • As an executive, I want to generate a report to understand which departments need to improve their productivity.

Try to avoid the generic role of User when writing user stories. User stories are about all of the role who interact with the system or who realize some value or benefit from the system. Not all actors are end users. For example, a role could be another system or someone who wants certain functionality in order to buy your product but will never actually use the product. It may be useful to create aggregate roles (such as consumer) and specialized roles (such as browser or frequent shopper).

In Rally, this template should be entered at the top of the Description field. This sets the tone for the details and acceptance criteria, which will be entered below.

Click to read the full story: https://help.rallydev.com/writing-great-user-story

Weekly Nudge – Three powerful words a leader can and should say…

Bob Hubbard:

David Marquet is challenging what we ‘think’ we know about leadership with this weekly nudge… “Three Powerful Words”.

Originally posted on Blog: Intent-Based Leadership:

Three powerful words a leader can say: “I don’t know.”

View original 219 more words

Leadership is Always Responsible, How to “Turn Your Ship Around”

Leadership Is Always Responsible

Much of my career relates in one way or another to adult learning. During that time, I learned that no amount of training can overcome poor leadership.

This article from Fast Company is a great overview of the power of leadership language

If you are interested in this book, the link below is from the Lean Thinker’s Bookshelf.

Bob Hubbard
Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
Technology Development
P: 770.982.5898
Send #X before you drive to pause the conversation until you arrive.
Take the pledge…
It Can Wait.


Creative Questions

Sins Against Innovation

37.01.MindInnovator_CoverMatthew May gets it. He is creative and he knows how to ask questions that help other people to arouse their inner creativity. In his wonderfully succinct masterpiece, “Mind of the Innovator”, Matthew May lays out seven sins against innovative thinking.

Matthew’s treatise offers many difficult questions. He gives us many issues to consider and a few scenarios where we can test our innovative abilities.

If you are looking for great insights on ways to remove the barriers to innovative thinking, I strongly recommend Matthew May, and this article in particular.


How Good Are Your Data? (The Importance of Accurate and Complete Measurements)

We Can Not Improve What We Do Not Measure


People have been measuring things since the dawn of civilization. In today’s technology development world we spend a great deal of time building dashboards that seek to present meaningful data. Since corporate leaders use this data to make business decisions, it is imperative that we ensure the information we present is accurate and complete.
Problems we encounter while relating numerical values to things in the physical world are not new. William Thompson, better known as Lord Kelvin, spoke and wrote about this subject in detail. 

“… the first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.”

William Thompson, 1st Baron Kelvin (aka Lord Kelvin)

Lecture on “Electrical Units of Measurement” (3 May 1883), published in Popular Lectures Vol. I, p. 73

Lord Kelvin was speaking about the physical sciences, but the point seems applicable to 21st century technology development as well. Many of us have heard the part of this quote that essentially says, ‘You can not improve what you do not measure.’ After reading the entire quotation, I was struck by the fact that in the business world, we seem to have overlooked the ‘first essential step’, which is to find a quality connected with a subject and a practicable method of measurement.

So how are you doing in your world? Are your measurements accurate? Are they complete? Finally, do the things that we spend time and energy measuring matter in our business? Leave a comment to get the conversation started!

Bob Hubbard, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
AT&T | Technology Development
Send #X before you drive to pause the conversation until you arrive.
Take the pledge… It Can Wait.

Did you Forget About What Motivates People?

This 2009 TED talk is just as topical today as it was then. This is a great message.

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

TED Talk: Dan Pink, What Really Motivates Us?

DMAIC: A great consulting tool

Bob Hubbard:

You don’t have to be a Six Sigma Black Belt to use DMAIC for problem solving. Whether you are an external big business consultant, or a new manager looking to improve performance, DMAIC should be in your toolbox.

Originally posted on Consultants Mind:

DMAICDMAIC.  Ask any consultant, and I mean ANY consultant (strategy, process, IT) and they will know what DMAIC stands for.  It is an abbreviation  for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.  It is a tool often used in process improvement projects.  I am not a fan of jargon, but this one is worth learning, and using.  It’s good and keeps you on task.

If you hired a consultant and they used a five-box slide that looks like the one below to explain a project approach. . . chances are good it is some derivation of DMAIC .

DMAIC - Consulting blogWe use because it is simple, logical, and a good starting point.

D = Define. You need to define what problem you are looking at, and what your goal is.  Without this step, you might be solving the wrong problem (happens all the time).

M = Measure

View original 248 more words