Possible Test for Splitting Stories and Valuable Minimums

Do you ever struggle with knowing if you should split stories? Or wondering if you have a valuable minimum? Jeffrey Frederick and Squirrel offered a signal for a too-small minimum in their podcast, MVP Cubed. That signal was when people became bored with the work.

Let me add some additional tests:

  • When the team can't decide on one specific user. (“As a user” is not sufficient. Which user will be delighted with this story or MVP?)
  • No one wants to demo this work, because everyone thinks the demo will wander all over the place.
  • Worse, no one wants to demo, because they can't see the value for any user. (This might be a corollary to the boredom problem, but I think it's different.)

(I bet you can think of more tests. If you do, please comment so I can learn from you.)

Use the Demo to Guide Sizing

If you start from the demo and think about a “direct” demo to show which user will be delighted with the work, you might have a small-enough story. It might still be “too” big if you can't finish it in one or two days, but here's how you can consider changing how you work:

  1. Limit the team's WIP with collaboration. Pair, Swarm, or Mob on all the stories.
  2. Focus on the flow of work through the team, flow efficiency thinking. That will also likely limit the team's WIP, and support the team in finishing fewer things faster.
  3. Start with the demo in mind.

I offered ways to think about minimums in Consider Product Options with Minimum Outcomes. I also write a lot about How Little Thinking.

Too often, we think about “everything” we can do instead of how little. And, we have the challenge of no overarching goal if we have a problem that's only part of a necessary solution. This is a case of how you can right-size your stories.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: