Story writing workshop

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Also see story board.

So, you are in your week out of time during your season beat.

What are we going to do next season? Time to find out by organizing a story writing workshop where scenarios define the wish result in a big pile of titles for user stories that eventually end up in a comprehensive story map for the next development episode (or two).

Bring in qualified people, forming a broad, deep and cross crew:

  • subject matter experts like:
  • actual (future) users of the product;
    • business analysts;
    • architects;
    • testers;
  • developers;
  • scrum masters, who can be of help with the process;
  • visioneers;
  • imagineers;
  • a fisherman and a female cellist.

Setting the stage

To set the stage, give direction, stick the following to the walls and windows:

  • Unity of Purpose
  • vibrant personas A1-sized paper; especially listing needs, goals, drives, wishes, and emotions like frustrations;
  • theme(s) for the next version (next one or two seasons);
  • kano poster
  • banners of the rules for better brainstorming

Bring any other material that can provide input:

  • User Manuals from the current product that can be used as example;


Requirements for the room:

  • a large room with space for twice the number of participants;
  • (smooth) walls and windows that support sticking banners, Post-its and flip charts to it;
  • fresh air and light from outside;
  • one large table for each group of six plus or minus one;
  • banners with the rules for better brainstorming;
  • laptops to:
    • record scenarios
    • record user story titles
  • video projector
  • a network printer (so you can printout individual user story cards);


  • plenty of:
    • A6 index cards
    • different sized and different colored Post-its; make sure they keep stuck to the walls…
  • decorator tape (to stick anything to the walls or glass)
  • one sharpie per participant
  • a set of Big Ones
  • highlighters
  • flip charts (one per group)
  • a bicycle bell, to ring whenever someone forgets one of the rules for better brainstorming



Write Scenarios

  • show example
  • tell about process of creating consistent, complete, and coherent scenario about a day in the life of a vibrant persona;
  • 15' each group self-splits into pairs, each pair writing a specific sub scenario;
  • 15' each subgroup, read aloud and review each other's scenarios and make them consistent, complete, and coherent;
  • 10' break
  • 30' each group, read aloud and review each other's scenarios
  • 15' resolve any ambiguities in terminology, improving further on making scenarios consistent, complete, and coherent;

Distill User Story Titles

  • explain user story template, emphasizing the ‘verb noun’ aspects
  • emphasize that it is mostly about generating user story titles, details and fleshing out will come later, when appropriate
  • anything relevant that comes to mind regarding a user story, write it on the index card or post-it, e.g. may be initial acceptance criteria
  • round robin type in user story titles as they are called out
  • everyone actively eliminates any duplicates as soon as noticed
  • jot down new ones as you build on these of others

Create A Story Map

  • may be per vibrant persona or need area, whatever is practical and most clear; may merge later on
  • have the backbone emerge from the vibrant persona's adventure (workflow) using the system
  • within each column heading (step in the workflow), arrange stories vertically on what is wanted first (based on kano and/or necessity, flexibility, intelligence, luxury, and performance.
  • check for consistency, completeness and coherence across the story map
  • split into upper and lower half; repeat splitting top half until slice can be realized in next {{p|development episode}] (season) as estimated by realization experts (architects, designers, developers, testers);
  • check if slice comprises minimal marketable feature and double check if coherent, consistent, and complete;

Digitize Everything

  • type in user story titles, including its slice number
  • take pictures of all relevant material (including some impressions of the workshop itself)

Post-process Results

  • clean up all raw material, make it coherent, consistent, and complete as you go;
  • put it into the appropriate systems (RTC, wiki, what have you)
  • make the user stories in the top slice ready to build