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How does it go?

You cannot ask people new to slicing user stories to write their own user story slices based on the slicing patterns. So the starting point is to have all the user stories prepared for the participants and have them find the appropriate slices.

The game contains a number of large user stories, all dealing with an activity that most of us have already done in real life:

  • booking a hotel room (directly through the site of the hotel, not via a booking site)

  • booking a flight

  • buying something from a web shop

  • ...

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One of the participants blindly picks a large user story (from a bag or whatever). The user story at the front of the card only gives part of the information. The most relevant information for the slicing exercise is at the back of the card: the acceptance criteria.

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According to the slicing flow chart of Richard Lawrence, the first slicing pattern you should try, is Workflow steps. So the first thing the participants need to do, is determining the workflow steps of the large user story, based on these acceptance criteria. The participants don't need to write these workflow steps themselves: they have to find the right stories in the stack of workflow steps. But before doing that, they could try and come up with the different steps themselves first, based on the acceptance criteria of the large user story.

 

Obviously the steps need to be in the right order... This should be fairly easy, because of the user story itself, and especially the first line, the user role of the user story. You put the workflow steps horizontally, the one next to the other.

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First round of slicing

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Further refinement

It could be that the workflow steps aren't small enough yet, that further refinement is needed. How do you know? Flip the cards of the workflow steps and read the acceptance criteria. If you see different possibilities described on the card, like e.g. how can you search for information, how can you pay and so on, then you know that further slicing is required.

But what slicing pattern should you apply? The way the acceptance criteria are formulated should give you a hint. And with the help of Richard Lawrence's story splitting flow chart, sort of a decision tree, you should find your way through the further slices. Put the further refined user stories below the corresponding workflow step.

What do you see now? That you have a story map for that 1 large user story, with the workflow steps horizontally and the further refinement vertically.

But it does't end there... The implementation of certain stories could lead to performance issues that need to be solved, or you need to do some experimentation before you can implement a certain story. Can you find these stories too?

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What's next?

Well, with that story map, you could for instance let the participants determine the walking skeleton of the story. Or have them determine what the scope of the first sprint could be. That is all up to the inspiration of the facilitator. The cards are there to inspire you.