Scrum Masters of the Universe: 3 Ways to Make Good Story Maps Great


I was invited in September 2021 to give a talk about some of the things I’ve learned about leading User Story Mapping sessions. This talk presents a few of these.

Complex technical development efforts are full of risks. Most commonly understood are the interactions between schedule, budget, and scope. Though there are also much bigger ones, notably are we focusing on the right things? Are we building something that will have the intended impacts?

User Story Mapping has proven to be highly effective at addressing all of these risks to some degree. It also flushes out assumptions and builds a shared understanding. It starts looking like a silver bullet, which should give any seasoned complexity practitioner substantial pause.

While the basic format and practice of building User Story Maps are relatively easy to learn, many practitioners miss three critical patterns that differentiate a good Story Map from a GREAT Story Map.

Great Story Maps enable better decision making through allowing for the simplest and lowest risk, rather than the most obvious or intuitive, solutions to emerge. They reveal scope and designs early to better inform trade off decisions. And perhaps most importantly, they allow everyone to have a clear shared understanding of how what’s being built creates value.

We’ll explore these ideas, and a couple other foundational ideas for effective mapping. No prior experience with Story Mapping is necessary, though even experienced practitioners may find themselves pleasantly surprised!

Leave a Comment