Book Review: User Story Mapping

User Story Mapping


Jeff Patton

My Rating

star star star star

One aspect of my game that I'm continually trying to improve,  one that I try to execute to perfection on a constant basis, is communication - in particular, creating a shared vision. Thanks to Jeff Patton's 'User Story Mapping', I now feel delight at levelling up my abilities to collaborate with business and technical stakeholders.

Already, I fervently practice architecture - via the c4 model of sketching - so that my team knows what we are building and what our dependencies are. I tirelessly employ the collaborative, linguistic  practices of DDD to create a shared, ubiquituos language to minimise ambiguity and maximise conversational precision. And now, with User Story Mapping, I have a precious technique for keeping a constant focus on the needs and problems of the users I am trying to create value for.

Story Maps are Nothing Fancy

A series of post-it notes, reading from left-to-right, depicting a user's journey through your application. That is the nuts and bolts of User Story Mapping, in addition to increasing precision of detail from top to bottom of a map.

A story map's simplicity, though, gives rise to amplifying changes in behaviour. It causes you to cogitate about the needs and frustrations of your users. It disambiguates each team member's perception of the problem so that you can communicate in great fidelity. 

And if done properly, as Jeff advises, the map will act as a trigger to uncover gaps in your logic that could prevent a good product from becoming an indespensable one.

Story Map-driven Agile

This book is really about putting Story Maps at the heart of an agile, iterative process - one that encourages lean concepts like the MVP and customer development. In my opinion, Jeff's process advice and anecdotes are highly-credible and worth trying out. 

In fact, I can't agree with Jeff more on topics like conversations instead of fixed requirements, and outcomes instead of output. Unfortunately, that is the state of our industry -  people arguing over the wording of lengthy requirements docs, and people being judged on story points delivered per-sprint rather than customer satisfaction.

If you recognise those as problems, then you'll learn a lot from this book.

Jovial Jeff

At first, I was stuggling to get into this book. Simply because Jeff injects his personality and humour. Sorry Jeff, but some of your jokes are a bit too close to being 'dad jokes', and I did cringe.

By the end of the book, though, his charm had grown had grown on me a bit. The cringing had stopped and, admittedly, I really did laugh out loud on a few occassion. Overall, I applaud Jeff's attempts at injecting personality and charisma.

You won me over Jeff :)

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Designing Autonomous Teams and Services
Patterns, Principles and Practices of Domain-Driven Design
The Strategic Practices of Domain-Driven Design