User Stories enable Creativity

Posted on Jul 27, 2023

When I first encountered user stories they annoyed me. Twisting my thinking to fit a formulaic way of writing when I already knew the solution was a waste of time. As a business systems analyst I want to solve problems and build automation as quickly as possible. User stories felt like an impediment. Now that I am older, dumber and don’t immediately know the correct technical solution to the problem, user stories have become invaluable.

Facetiousness aside I am now a developer with less user context and more technical solutions. This is important context for understanding when user stories can be valuable. If one person is working with the users and creating the technical solution user stories may be a waste of time. The more layers of people there are and the more time there is from intake to execution the more valuable they become.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Throw in software and this number balloons exponentially. If you are given a technical specification there is only one way to solve the problem. There is no possibility of prototyping, learning and changing the approach. You don’t have the context to be able to do so. All you know is what your software must do.

If you have a user story to reference, though, you know the problem you are trying to solve and can find the technical solution that fits best. Maybe there’s a simpler solution, maybe your technical solution does not solve the user problem at all.

Technical solutions without an associated user story lock in one possibility. User stories enable product and engineering to creatively problem solve and iterate as they learn. Outside of producing better solutions people with problems are much more compelling than technical specifications.