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User Story Mapping by Peter Economy, Jeff Patton

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Chapter 14. Using Discovery to Build Shared Understanding

When I see simple models that describe Agile development, they often start on the left side with a big list—the product backlog. Now, I’d consider that funny if I didn’t know that some people consider it that easy. Getting a good actionable product backlog out of an opportunity is going to take a lot of hard work; it won’t simply materialize for you. And it definitely isn’t the result of capturing a list of things people want built. It’s a deliberate process of discovery that initially focuses on learning a lot more about who, what, and why.

Discovery Isn’t About Building Software

Discovery work isn’t about building shippable software. It’s about learning. It’s about building a deeper understanding of what we could build. It’s about asking and answering questions like:

  • What problems are we really solving?
  • What solutions could be valuable to our organization and to customers buying or adopting the product?
  • What does a usable solution look like?
  • What’s feasible to build given the time and tools that we have?

It’s asking and starting to answer all these questions about an opportunity that starts your first round of rock breaking. All the details about the product or feature you discuss become the titles of smaller stories. And each of those smaller stories can result in even deeper discussions, and still smaller stories.

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All these ...

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