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Investable Stories

Watch Alex Cowan to learn about investable stories.
A great technique to make your stories better is Bill Wake’s Classic Invest Checklist. And this is a set of questions you can ask yourself about your stories to not only look at their quality, but also look at how actionable they are as you implement them through various iterations with your team. So the first question is, are they independent? Can each of these stories be implemented on a stand-alone basis? And that’s important so that you can work in these small iterations with lots of observations built into them, and it’s also important for a few other, more nuanced reasons that we’ll talk about in course three. They are negotiable. Stories are not specifications.
They are tools for narrative collaborations, so by negotiation, it means that none of them are permanent, none of them are specific, they’re just a tool to help you collaborate. Are they valuable? That’s really what we’ve been focused on here in module one, is uncovering those foundations sources of value and making sure we can translate them into actionable inputs to our team. Are the stories estimable? That’s important because if they’re not, they’re probably also not small enough. And it’s important that we’re able to work in these small batches where we’re able to implement something in software, and then go make observations about whether it’s valuable, or whether we need to retread it in some fashion.
And then finally, is the story testable? And we’ve talked about that a lot. How do we test it to see if the user is getting these sources of value out of it, especially on a very preliminary basis. So could we make a mock-up and create a scenario where we could do some simple user testing early? So you’ve seen this classic and very useful checklist to use to think through where your stories are, and where you may want to take them as you work with your team.

In this video, Alex explains how to make your user stories better by using Bill Wake’s INVEST list. You’ll be using this INVEST list to check your work on the development of child stories and related test cases for this week’s peer-reviewed assignment.

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