The importance of small user stories

Battleship beneath a grey cloudy sky
“Grey and black boat under grey clouds” by Will Esayenko on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the size of user stories in agile projects. The idea that I’ve been reflecting on is what if teams only worked with small, similarly-sized pieces of work, rather than exponentially larger blocks of work?

In theory, small user stories should be more predictable, should include less risk, less uncertainty and less complexity. They should, therefore, take less time to complete than larger user stories… you would think! Or as Mike Cohn put it in Agile Estimating and Planning (Prentice Hall, 2006), “small stories keep work flowing”.

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Scrum makes one promise only

Photo by Nagesh Badu on Unsplash

One of my favourite books on agility is The People’s Scrum (Dymaxicon, 2013) by Tobias Mayer.

A lot of books on agility focus on the mechanics of how it all fits together, who needs to be where doing what with whom in order for the machine to work more effectively.

This book is different. It focuses not on the how, but challenges the why. It is open to critically questioning every aspect of agile with the intention of uncovering the core drivers behind agile practices.

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Negative Space

This beautiful short film was featured in Documentally‘s last newsletter. It’s definitely worth subscribing to.

I showed this video to my three children a few days ago; they were captivated, laughed at the end and we discussed it over breakfast the following morning. I love little moments like that.

I think about my dad a lot. He taught me a lot about being ordered and considerate in how I do things, the importance of finding a home for everything and putting it back after using it—something that was more important to him once his brain damage dug deeper and dementia started robbing him of his memories. Not surprisingly, he was an engineer. I often wonder what he could teach me now.