Why your product team should use User Story Mapping to link user research to user stories
How well do you think your product team takes what they learn from their users and puts it into the next iteration of the product? How well does your team come to a common understanding of what the next iteration of the product will look like and then build a product that reflects that common understanding?
These two problems — improving your product with user research and effective team collaboration — can both be solved with a design tool called User Story Mapping.
In this session, attendees will hear how to apply User Story Mapping to connect user research to user stories for Design Thinking and Agile Development and the experience our teams have with the method. Attendees will get a taste of going through running a simple user story mapping workshop so that they will feel comfortable taking the process back to their business.
I noticed that design thinking
workshops made product teams
think they were on the same page
until it was time to get granular.
The good vibes and sense of
alignment turned to uncertainty
about how to get to market.
Uncertainty turned to inactivity
We have mission statements for our release (hills) … now what?
We have hills … how do we act on them?
We have user research … how do we use it to impact the product?
Let’s not try to break this stuff down now.
We’ll figure it out as we go!
Inactivity turned into teams saying …
Product teams need a way to
bridge the divide.
User Story Mapping
User story mapping …
explained in actionvisualized
User story mapping explained
User story mapping takes a measured approach
to decomposing design thinking hills. At its core,
we break down hills by simply asking ourselves,
“what does the user need to do to get this
User story mapping visualized
◉ Represented as a tree
◉ Starts with an overarching vision
◉ Can be broken into corresponding agile
achieved by accomplishing goals.
broken down into agile stories.
completed by performing tasks.
reached by completing activities.
smallest increment of the
Our online customers need an easier way to search through our inventory and find
the item they’re looking to buy.
User story mapping in action
We’ve been working with Hybrid Cloud product
teams to implement user story mapping.
The Continuous Release and Delivery Insights
teams were kind enough to work with us.
Examples today will come from our work with
Delivery Insights As-Is
◉ Customers asking for features for different
◉ Lack of direction from previously written hills
◉ Design was building what dev said customers
User story mapping has a lot to offer product
teams that invest the time.
User story mapping benefits
◉ Visual presentation of your backlog
◉ High-level view of work being done in the
◉ Improved collaboration between stakeholders
User story mapping benefits
◉ Prioritized work based on collaborative goals
◉ More accurate story sizing
◉ Simplification of product road map
◉ User stories become developer work items
◉ Iterative collaboration process
Here’s how to run a user story mapping workshop
session with your team.
User story mapping phases
Know the stakeholders
Reach out to key stakeholders
before the session. Explain the
purpose of the exercise. This
generate advocates who come
in ready to participate.
Know your user
If you can get feedback
beforehand from users. Do it! If
you need to build a persona,
then come in with one that’s
been validated ahead of time.
Know the user’s experience
Map out the current user
experience. What’s the as-is?
You can’t make life better for
your user if you don’t know their
pain points .
Know what you want to do for them
You know the user. You know their
pain points. Now how are you going
to make things better for your user?
Create a draft of hills that
summarize the who, what, and wow
you plan to provide.
Know the stakeholders
◉ Researcher / design lead
◉ Product manager
◉ Development lead
Min. required stakeholders Meeting topics
◉ Introduce the topic and
explain the use and benefits
◉ Spend 15-20 minutes building
a user story map
During the workshop
Revisit pre-workshop hills
Before you do anything align on
the hills you wrote beforehand
in case not everyone has seen
First draft of to-be scenario
If the as-is tells us what the
user’s experience is like now,
the to-be tells us what it will be
like after we deliver on our hill
or mission statement.
Refine workshop hills
At this point we ask ourselves,
“knowing what we know about
the to-be we created, do we
need to revise the language of
Second pass at to-be scenario
If we’ve revised the language of
our hills, we need to reflect
those changes in the to-be
Refine hills one last time
Now that we feel confident
about our to-be scenario, let’s
do our best to finalize our hills
before moving on.
Draft of Golden Thread
The purpose of the Golden
Thread is to prioritize what
development will deliver first,
with the specific intent that
research will validate it with the
user after the workshop.
Post-workshop follow up
Up until now your
scenario is a
hypothesis. Put it in
front of sponsor
users for validation.
Team finalizes hills,
epics, & user stories
Clean up the
language on any
epics or user stories.
Add finalized work to
Start to create work
items in the backlog
that reflect the
“It was a breath of fresh air.”
Q: How was the user story mapping experience?
“We kept iterating on the same thing over and over
until we narrowed in on what was really good about
it. That refinement was really big for us.”
Q: What did you get most out of the process?
“I liked the idea of creating the Golden
Thread where—one, you pull out the
high priority items, and two, you tell
the story all the way through.
“We end up passing high level information from one
person to the next then back to customers … We
understand everything from high level value to what it
takes to implement, and everyone’s on the same page.”
Q: How have things changed since the workshop?
Dos & Donts
Learn from our mistakes by remembering these
◉ Don’t allow unvalidated personas from any stakeholder.
◉ Do your user research. Your success depends on it!
◉ Do get a facilitator. You need to focus on helping your
◉ Don’t worry about perfection.
Fitting it together
Let’s take a step back and see how this fits into a
continuous delivery process.
If you have any questions …
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