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Visual User Story Slicing

Advanced Agile Techniques for Simplifying Work

Topic: Design
Tommy Norman

In Agile, short feedback loops are critical and trying to breakdown your big ideas for your product into small, valuable slices of functionality can seem like a black art. Visual Story Slicing is a technique that can be used as part of traditional Story Mapping methods to ensure you are slicing your User Stories down to the simplest thing that will work while keeping them as independent and valuable as possible. There are also huge advantages to including personas and goals in your story mapping and slicing efforts to maximize the value and learning you deliver in each iteration. Using these interactive activities, you can make your efforts to break down work more collaborative and value focused.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • Explain the importance of slicing User Stories to your stakeholders.
  • Initially breakdown work with Story Mapping.
  • Use Personas and Goals to focus more on actual user realized value.
  • Use Visual Story Slicing to break down work even further into the smallest, independently valuable pieces of functionality.
  • Effectively perform Visual Story Slicing activities both in person and remotely.
  • Ensure your User Stories are well crafted.
  • Track work from its larger themes, through epics, and eventually User Stories and back.

This training course is for you because...

  • Product Owners/Managers
  • Scrum Masters/Project Managers


Recommended Follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Tommy Norman is the Director of Agile Operations at Acklen Avenue, a custom software development shop in Nashville, Tennessee. With an IT career spanning over 25 years, he has been helping organizations of all sizes and shapes build great software with a practical approach in a multitude of roles ranging from developer, architect, development and QA manager, to Agile coach. Tommy is currently a Certified Executive Coach with the Scrum Alliance, a Professional Scrum Master with Scrum.org, and a Certified Scaled Agile Framework Practitioner. He has worked deeply with the Agile community as the coordinator of the Agile Nashville user group, Director of the Music City Agile conference, and a frequent local and national speaker. You can follow him online on Twitter at @tommynorman, on his blog at www.tommynorman.com, and view his Agile training videos on O’Reilly Learning.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Segment 1: Why We Break Down Work (20 min)

  • Concept to Cash
  • Batch Sizes and Feedback Loops
  • Why We Meet Resistance
  • Q&A

Segment 2: Personas and Goals (20 min)

  • The “As a [Role]” in User Stories
  • Put the “Story” Back in User Story
  • Product Visioning
  • Personas and Roles
  • Persona Goals
  • ATM Example
  • Q&A
  • Break (5 min)

Segment 3: Story Mapping (30 min)

  • Intro to Story Mapping
  • Story Chunks Versus Slices
  • Using Personas and Goals
  • ATM Example
  • Q&A

Segment 4: Visual Story Slicing (45 min)

  • Splitting versus Slicing
  • Elements of Visual Story Slicing
  • Ruthless Prioritization
  • Facilitating Visual Story Slicing
  • ATM Example
  • Where Does It Fit In?
  • Online Visual Story Slicing
  • Q&A
  • Break (10 min)

Segment 5: Well-Crafted User Stories (20 min)

  • Elements of a Well-Crafted User Story
  • User Story Maturity
  • Add On Features
  • Q&A

Segment 5: Story Size and Flow (20min)

  • Increased Hand-Offs
  • Managing Waste
  • Maximizing Flow
  • Showcases
  • Q&A

Wrap Up & Next Steps (5-10 min)