The Weekly ReBoot - Mini Hack #13 Write Better Descriptors


Todays episode is another mini hack, and it’s about Writing better descriptors, for your tasks, cards, or stories, or basically for whatever you call the units of work you do.

In the beginning, just after the dark ages of software in the 90s, people were discovering better ways of developing software and a thing called the ’User Story’ was created.

Sometime between then and 2001 the user story format was created by Mike Cohn, and it really was a handy way to learn how to first engage with user stories and template them up, in fact I still coach absolute beginners to write stories this way.

And the template goes:

As A, I want, So that

As a <user or stakeholder type>

I want <some software feature>

So that <some business value>”

And a real example for anyone who might be new to User Stories:

"As an on-line shopper, I want to update the number of items in my basket, so that I can complete my transaction without starting from scratch. "

However Even Ron Jeffries one of the manifesto signatories has mixed emotions about the User Story format:

Oh ron.png

Many people find following the template problematic, it’s a bit long winded...

Here are some examples of improved descriptors, before and after:

I had a task called: "Organise Tickets for others” which I improved to be “Organise LAST tickets for the 6 panelists”

Just 3 little extra words but so much more meaning.

“Last Ticket” which I improved to be “Transfer my LAST ticket to Indra”

“Payment Methods” I improved to be three cards:

“Change iCloud payment method to co. account"

“Change Drop box payment method to co. account”

“Change Telstra payment method to co. account"

And the keen eyed amongst you will see that it also gave me a prompt to break that story into 3 stories.

Which satisfies the other mini hack of breaking work down, you can listen to that episode here:

So that’s the mini hack for the day, make intent a first class citizen when writing tasks or stories by writing better descriptors and your team or future you will thank you for creating that clarity and understanding and saving you time and brain cycles.

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Alexandra Stokes