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Better Gardening Through User Stories

August 2020

Photo by Phinehas Adams on Unsplash

Would you buy a garden plow without knowing what you'll do with it, just because you believe you should have one?


Maybe you have a general idea: you'll dig earth with the plow. Where in your garden will you plow? Is a plow really necessary for 1/8th of an acre garden? What is it you're really trying to accomplish?


A user story would've helped here. For instance, let's say that what you really need to do in your garden is plant bulbs. Your user story is:

As a homeowner, I want to dig small holes so I can plant bulbs.


With that information, you probably would've realized that a plow was a bit overkill, before you purchased it. You would know that all you really needed was a short handled bulb planter.


Instead, now you have to figure out how to plant bulbs using a plow. Maybe, you give the plow to your teenagers and ask them to figure it out for you, promising a huge bonus allowance if they do. You may find they're still working on the problem a few days later: after scores of failed attempts and a very chewed up lawn you wonder if you're really going to get value for that bonus you promised.


So, with that story in mind, what will you do with that new data science tool you're thinking of purchasing? Do you have a user story, or will you give it to your data science team to figure out? Our recommendation is to develop one or more user stories that reflect what you're trying to accomplish in your mission. They're very simple to construct:

As a <user role> I want to <do something> so I can <accomplish something>.


If you're having trouble getting started, Cybele Data Advisory can help you with that.

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