Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tips for Facilitating a User Story Mapping Session

In an earlier post I described how to create a user story map. Here are a few additional tips that you might find helpful.

Tip #1. Silent Brainstorming isn't mandatory. 
While using silent brainstorming is great for creating a map, you don't always need to use it. Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where a full set of requirements has been written or the app is a re-write of an existing and well known application. In those cases I often skip the silent brainstorming and create the map from the existing documentation. Of course, I still do this with the team.

Tip #2. For your first map, reference the email map.
When you are creating your first map you may find that some people have difficulty finding the right level of detail for the second row in the map ("things people do" - the user tasks). In order to reduce the confusion walk them through the first two rows of the email map first. You can simply write the basic map on a few post-its as an example:

Finally, as they are writing their 'things people do', walk around and take a look at what they are writing. Encourage them when they are writing the correct level of detail ("Compose Email") and ask questions when they are getting into too much detail ("Set an email to High Priority").

Tip #3. Tear horizontally, not vertically
There are two ways to tear a post-it note off of the pad. If you tear it off horizontally (left to right or right to left) the post-it note will lie flat when it is stuck onto the wall. If you tear it off vertically (bottom to top) then it will have a curl.

Tip #4. Big Post-its
Quite often it isn't possible to create your map in the team room. If this is true for you then create your map on the large 3M Easel pads so that it can be transferred back to the team room.

Tip #5. Use name brand post-its
Post-its made by 3M seem to stick longer than other brands.


  1. Still wondering where will i write user stories with a standard format of "As a i want to so that " where do we put such stories on the map and also the confirmation. is it at the back of the card?

    1. Story maps themselves are more for planning, and do not include too much detail. Therefore, you can write them in that format, but bear in mind that stories in a story map are not detailed enough for a developer to work. You will probably end up breaking these stories down further and adding greater detail when the team pulls them into their current work.

  2. Hi Paul,

    The yellow post-its in the example map are the user stories. You can absolutely write them in the "As a.." format if that is helpful to you and your team.

    In the examples, I describe each story with as few words as possible. If you are using the "As a" format, you could consider this a "title" for your story. Using fewer words makes it easier to visually scan and find the story you are looking for in the map.

  3. I dont know... For me, the orange are EPICs, the blue are the stories and the yellow would be the tasks, I dont plan that early...

    For example, if my project is a configurator:
    One activity is "configuration"
    One story is "choose a product" (one screen with a slider of 5 products)
    A task would be like "create data model"

    What would it be the way you explained it?
    configuration -> choose a product -> ??? -> create data model

    Why you add this additional level?