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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INVEST in good user stories

A couple of months ago, I walked the Vision Tasks team through an agile maturity matrix — like a kind of agile health check — to give me an idea of where they were on their agile journey and highlight areas to focus on. One area was in the use of the acronym INVEST when working with user stories.

This post looks briefly at what user stories are and how the INVEST acronym can help.

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