Thursday, 8 September 2016

My case for why story cards deserve a bit of love

I am an avid user of Post-its, which I commonly call 'stickies' since I am not a brand junkie even if I secretly compare my Brand X to Super Stickies.

I give you exhibit A:

Definitely a 'C' for effort - could try harder!

The stories on my board are represented by stickies and they have traditionally been extremely low rent. Creating a new story takes seconds and have always thought of this being a good thing. The format usually persists and easily adaptable so I have never done it any differently.

Just recently I have noticed that the simplicity of creating cards also means new ones are created often which I am not sure is a good thing....

Are we facilitating the idea that changing items in a sprint is quick and painless? Maybe even that it's a fringe benefit and does not cost anything?

If our goal is to form a set list of work for a sprint then we should be only creating stories once. We can afford to spend a little bit of time on them.

The card should reflect the effort that the team has already expended to get them into a state that we can create software with, which could have had many hours spent on it in refinement and planning by various members of the team.

Does a sticky really represent our investment in that story? Throwing away a sticky does not 'feel' serious but it might represent a significant investment in time and ultimately money.

So I have a new theory: Story Cards should be difficult to create and fantastic to look at.

Whilst my team think that glitter, funky calligraphy and lamination is maybe a smidge too far (I disagree) printing them off using a nice template and font's would make them easier to read whilst making them just too difficult to create ad-hoc or without a good reason.

Is our work really best represented by a dog-earred stickie written in questionable handwriting? Doesn't it deserve just a little bit more?

I think story cards should embody our view of our work and deserve just a little bit of love.

Maybe allow anything that was not part of our sprint planning be a sticky so we can see just how flexible and accommodating our team really is, which is often overlooked by the wider business.

3 comments:

  1. Great ideas here!

    I too like the idea of decorating the cards.. colours, yeah, and maybe a little drawing representing the value too. Lamination to me feels representative of committing to that story too.

    Personally, I find the idea of typing it up makes it feel less team owned, less human.

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    1. Hmm. I know what you mean about the 'less human' bit - it's tempting to just print it out but I think it would loose something, as you described. I will show off some prototypes as soon as I have them :)

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