Today’s link really got my blood boiling this morning, mainly because I have had Scrum training from Mike Cohn. I also hate it when people feel the need to go after the top people or businesses in an industry as a means of getting some notoriety. That may or may not be the case, nevertheless I watched the video from Tom Gilb seething.
After some Googling, I found out Gilb is a engineer and has made quite a career out of the inspection and metrics behind great software. I didn’t need to search to find this out, though, because that world view is clear from his approach to user stories.
That’s when it dawned on me that this video is a great teaching tool for product personnel. As I always say to my colleagues: user stories are the beginning of the conversation with development, not the end. The mistake I think Gilb makes is seeing stories by themselves as the sole piece of information an engineer needs to do complex work.
Having used this method of communicating requirements at several different companies, trying to lump all user stories in the same boat is hard. We all write them differently, and compile acceptance criteria differently. Within the same release, I am capable of providing a great amount of information that gives developers everything they need as well as the opposite. That’s where the conversation takes place.
Every engineer and architect I have spoken to have had their fair share of poorly written requirements. My favorite joke is to tell my team, “show me on the doll where the product owner touched you.” The challenge to my job is finding a way to meet them in the middle of the conversation and craft stories towards a method of delivering the best features possible.
So, instead of bashing Mr. Gilb for not reading and understanding Cohn’s methods, I would like to thank him for reminding me the purpose of my job. It’s not to stand in the way of great software, but making it easier and well thought out.
We involve stakeholders, help with design, converse with our teams, and document everything along the way. We are product managers, Tom, and our user stories can be your friends.