Agile. How did a movement whose manifesto began with “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” get so caught up in ceremony?
(“Humans” is the answer)
Thoughtbot tweeted a thought-provoking article on “Replacing the User Story with the Job Story“. I am a fan of “jobs to be done” but do not think this is really much of an improvement.
I personally think that user stories should not be formulaic, and they don’t need to feel like “documentation”. (note: I don’t expect everyone I work with to agree with me)
Shared understanding is what you need, not documentation. Just as I believe in doing the lowest-fidelity design (sketch/wireframe/mockup) necessary to move into successful working code, I feel the same about user stories.
Your entire team should know who your customer is, what you are trying to solve, and why. It shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t need to be written up in an artificial sentence.
Put as much, and as little, as you need into your user story to enable clarity and a shared understanding. Remote teams will need more than co-located teams.
The entire team needs to know that if they get confused, they should stop and ask a quick question. Don’t plow ahead with mistaken assumptions, just ask. A resolution doesn’t need a meeting, just a quick touch point.
You don’t need formulaic documentation if you have a trusting, cross-functional team which maintains the discipline of lightweight communication.