We've talked about tasks, the units of work that flow across our Kanban board as we go through agile sprints. But we've defined them only as “chunks of work that can be completed in the time frame of a single sprint.”
That's fine for getting started. Simply jot down tasks on sticky notes—or their electronic equivalent—however you would naturally describe them. Prioritize them, grab the top bunch of them for a sprint, and then move them along your Kanban board as you work on them.
Yet we can elevate this task traffic into a more powerful management framework.
By adding a few more characteristics to tasks—and by organizing them into meaningful clusters—we can develop a more customer-centric approach to our work and make sure that our in-the-trenches tactical efforts connect with our larger strategic goals.
One of the innovations that emerged from agile software development was the idea of user stories. Instead of just requesting that a feature be added to a software program—which is often described from the perspective of a developer who would implement it—team members write a brief narrative about why a particular user would want that feature.
These narratives, which are typically just a sentence or two, are called user stories.
The basic template for a user story is a short sentence like this: As a USER'S ROLE, I want DESIRED FEATURE so that BENEFIT ACHIEVED. For example, a user story for a human resources ...