Book Review: 50 Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories

50 Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories


Gojko Adzic, Dave Evans

My Rating

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Over recent years I've continued to be impressed by the work and opinions of Gojko Adzic. In particular, I deeply aspire to his abilities at combing concepts from psychology, business, and technology, and applying them to outstanding real-world benefit on significant technology projects.

Impact Mapping, one of Gojko's previous books, was a revelation. This collaboration with Dave Evans is not so revolutionary, yet still contains many insightful gems of wisdom that will not just help you create better user stories, but to have a more positive impact at creating and delivering value on any software project.

Not Just About User Stories

Much of the advice in 50 Quick Ideas for Improving your User Stories confers more than the ability to produce good user stories. Tip 19, for example, is titled: "Focus milestones on a limited number of user segments". Following this advice will help you to reduce WIP - of which our industry is suffering an epidemic, with few people seeming to care - and crucially this tip will focus you more studiously on user needs.

Another example of the broad-reaching benefits of this book is tip 13: "Change behaviour using the CREATE funnel". The CREATE Funnel is a model of human behaviour, that again helps you to increase empathy with users, and increase your chances at delivering benefits they will savour.

Of course, plenty of the tips in this book are directly related to creating good user stories. My favourites being: "Tell stories don't write them", "Describe a behaviour change", "Describe a system change", and "Investigate value on multiple levels".

Valuable Insights from the Authors' Experience

Many of the tips are justified using real world examples. It is clear that the advice in this book is genuine. In places, you can even feel the authors' emotion of certain events that contributed to them creating the tip.

Admittedly, I concede that not every last tip is mind-blowingly useful. Some I'll forget and I'm not bothered about. If I'm really going to be critical I'll also admit that I found the word "great" used frequently enough to make me wince a little. But to tell the truth, I can't think of any major complaints with this book.

Overall, I made plenty of notes from this book and I'll be getting plenty of return on my investment in it. If you want to write better user stories and have greater impact at steering software projects in the right direction, you should consider investing in it, too.

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