11/30: Writing Compelling User Stories

Ah, user stories, can't live with them, can't live withou... or wait, here's a radical thought — what if you can develop product entirely without user stories?

Or at least, without fake user stories! I promise, it's not as crazy as it sounds.

Here's the real deal: user stories are great. They are designed to describe a job, task, need, pain point, problem, or desire a user has and wishes to somehow resolve in a way that also shows what the user aims to achieve.

User stories are developed around a narrative "backbone" (thank you Jeff Patton) that guides the progression of the narrative itself. They're built as aids to help us visualize the story of our product, and are unbeatable when it comes to mapping the big picture and slicing and dicing it until we arrive at small chunks of value that we can reasonably ship.

So, then, what am I talking about and why am I bashing user stories?

The truth is, I love user stories. But I don't like their OKRization, i.e., the process through which they've spread to various departments, lost their original meaning, and become a pet peeve for that one stakeholder who started formulating their feature requests in user story format.

User stories are meant to be the product of product discovery. Not the other way around.

And in my experience, the best user stories aren't actually written -- they're drawn. At least at first.

Following virtually any discovery method can lead you to visualizing the narrative of your users moving through your product in search of the solution to their problem.

Drawing a story map forces us to think differently by literally activating different centers in our brain.

We are then capable of writing better user stories.

And a tip for you product heroes out there: don't write them yourselves. Co-develop them with your team through collaborative product discovery with at least your product trio.

Writing them after that will come easily!


12/30: Top Five Product Success Metrics