BottomUp - Skills for Innovators

Users stories will save you from drowning in product features. Discover how to organise your product into a system that both technical and business teammates can understand.

Show Notes

Hello. Hi, and welcome to the bottom up skills podcast. I might pass on the CEO of quality lens. And today we're going to talk details. We are going to talk user stories. They are the micro micro, the smallest of the small little elements. That referred to what we're going to build in a product. And these little things have such a big impact on how we work when we're building a product.

So we use a story which is, you know, It is a clearly defined interaction in the product is so important because what it does is it is a point of reference that creates clarity for all the members of a team about what should happen in the product or service. Now. The important thing is that they are written in a simple, easy to understand nontechnical non-strategic.

Uh, language so that it means everybody can make sense of it. And as you're moving fast and you know, you want to build this amazing product because possible making sure that you've got absolute crystal clear standing of what needs to be made means that you, then when you have your user story, you can assign it to a person that you can.

Looking confluence, uh, to find all the backup data and they know when they have to make it. And so user stories, we often, uh, we'll put into a tool, uh, like JIRA and it helps us organize them prioritizing, but user stories are fantastic because what they effectively do is they would enable a engineer. And someone who's an executive sponsor to sit down and discuss the product in a simple language.

And I think that this is really important because. Too often now our products are involving really sophisticated, uh, technology. Uh, I mean, I think the biggest, uh, some of the biggest drivers of this is we're getting a lot more data. And because of that, we start to incorporate machine learning, maybe a little bit of AI.

Certainly at least some sort of our rhythms that starts to get pretty complex. And then on the other hand, hardware right. Is changing so much as well. So, you know, our mobile, uh, smartphones are just so powerful. I can do so many things because of all of the, the hardware features. So you can get lost in complexity.

And that's where the user story comes to save the day. It helps us organize the product into a system, um, enabling everybody else to talk about it and for actions to happen off the back of it. Now, you know, people will listening to this will formally, uh, say, wow, you know, this is quite an agile thing.

This idea of user stories, the reason that I'm including it in a design thinking, uh, series is this, is that. Crucial handoff and interaction between a UX specialist and a business analyst or similar roles. And this is where you have the real integration between user needs and business needs. And it becomes also a reference point for engineers to understand what sort of code, what sort of architecture needs to be created in order to make this experience.

Come to life. So user stories are so damn powerful when we think about how to make an inventory of what needs to be in the product. The beauty of this is that all your user stories can be born of all the design thinking practices that you've been using, your ideation, your research, or testing and prototyping.

So anything that gets in as a user story, you should have a high degree of confidence. That, what you tested already with users looks, feels, and you've got good proof, strong evidence. That that user story is a great way to build the product. So I want to talk a little bit now about how user stories get organized and there's this sort of a, kind of a simple hierarchy where you have, I want you to imagine, um, right at the very top is themes.

These themes tend to be. Really big, uh, features, big bucket areas within a product or a service. Um, and they, they tend to be, um, look maybe in a, in a first generation product, you might have half a dozen themes. These are the organizing principles. So if you think about your Uber app, uh, for example, the account section, uh, is.

A theme. And inside of that theme, you will have lots of epics. So when we talk about epics, we're now going down a level and we're getting a bit more specific. So when I look in my, uh, in my account settings, um, inside of that theme, there's all sorts of epics setting favorites would be an Epic, um, managing trusted context.

That's another one verifying my ride. And so on, those are all epics, but if we continue along this a little path or user story would be setting a new address as the default, I felt home address and that might have several micro interactions, buttons, elements, features, filters, you name it. Um, these are the user stories.

So they have it. We got big themes, medium-sized epics and really little stories. This is such a great way to make an inventory of your. Products. And you will find that maybe each theme has a user journey map. And we talked about user journey maps in the last episode. So if you want to go back and grab some more of the back catalog of the bottom up podcast, you can just go to bottom

Where you can not only find the user story. Goodness. In our design thinking masterclass, you can also get lots of episodes from the podcast. So back to user stories. These things are the essential language. They become a way. If you remember, in that last, we last episode, we talked about the big picture of design thinking, which is the unit and unit user journey map.

Or now we're in the small details. But again, the beauty I've used, the stories is they provide Ventas from talking too much high tech, engineering, or strategy. We talk in really simple terms about what the user would be doing. Sometimes what I've found is putting in. Acceptance criteria. Um, you might have off the back of this technical requirements, all sorts of good stuff will come off these user stories, but the user stories become the essential unit of work that builds a backlog.

So not only we know what's to get done, we know how much time it's going to take and we can start prioritizing and organizing them. So as you think about. Creating your product. And at this stage you've mapped it. You've chosen your primary feature. User journeys are essential in the big picture, but user stories are the essential micro element of the product.

And I can only give you this last thought, this last advice on how to get the most out of them. You need to make sure that your user stories are complete and are detailed. This is something that I would never gloss over because so much of a user story is suggesting the interaction, the data, the rules, if this, then that it is at the heart of how things will be, hard-coded engineered into the product.

So. If you've got someone in your team, who's really good on details. You should give them the user story in a traditional team. You probably have a business analyst write these, but here's the key thing. I great user story written by a business analyst will have been co-created coauthored with technical engineers.

Designers and any other members of the group strategists business experts, because there is no use in just one person writing a user story. The best user stories are ones that have been co-created amongst your core product team. So they have it user stories ever so small. Ever so big when it comes to their power, they will help you organize this entire system.

So if you're really ready to rock and roll, jump into JIRA, that's J I R a by Atlassian. And that is a great place where you can write up store and manage. You'll use the stories and they will, without a doubt, help you build a product. Which is why we're all here on this podcast to share not only user stories and user journeys, but the overall practice of design thinking.

And as you can see, what's so fun, is it interacts with all sorts of other practices, such as rapid prototyping, lean startup, and of course, a lot of handoffs with agile. Methodologies. So I hope you've really enjoyed this. We've still got a few more episodes left in our design thinking series. I hope you've got some inspiration or just a little tip that helps you build a better product.

What is BottomUp - Skills for Innovators?

The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world we now live in makes it impossible to innovate from the top down. We must now take an empathic, experimental, and emergent approach to innovate from the BottomUp.

Mike Parsons breaks down all the components of what it takes to discover, build, test, and launch radical new products, services, and cultures. You'll get in-depth instruction on the most effective methodologies, interviews with experts, and case studies. All in under 15 minutes.