Published June 26, 2023
by Doug Klugh

Avoid Focusing on the Team

Avoid this anti-pattern by building your product backlog with user stories that deliver value to your customers.  Do not write “Team Stories” that represent development tasks that serve the team.  Promote continuous delivery by ensuring that every card on the backlog delivers working software to your customer that they can use and evaluate.  Early and frequent feedback is necessary to enable agility and to ensure that problems are truly being solved.  Waterfall methods often fail because meaningful feedback is infrequent and late in the game.  Development activities should be managed as tasks within user stories that are required to design, implement, test, and deploy that specific functionality.  Enact YAGNI to ensure that development activities are just enough and completed just in time.

« The story must have clear and quantifiable value to the business.
Refactoring is never a story.  Architecture is never a story.  Code cleanup is never a story.  A story is always something that the business values.

Clean Agile:  Back to Basics, October 2019 - Robert C. Martin

Team Micromanagement

Do you use your scrum board and backlog to manage and track the work of the team?  Or are they used to manage and track the value that is planned for the customer?  The first (and most important) principle of Agile is to satisfy the customer.  This is best achieved when the user is at the forefront and centre of the requirements, design, and validation.

To realize continuous delivery, every card on your backlog should have a deliverable to your customer.  Every development activity should tie back to a customer deliverable — as a task within a user story.  It makes no sense to “deliver” stories that only serve the team.  That is why user stories are always written from the perspective of the user — to ensure we are serving the customer.

Separation of Concerns

So…  Does it not serve the customer to deliver a highly modular, polylithic software solution that provides a high degree of flexibility and adaptability?  Yes, no doubt — indirectly.  But would you ever ask your customer to validate a new class and verify that it complies with the Liskov Substitution Principle

The Liskov what?!?

That is exactly my point.  If you would not expect your customer to conduct user acceptance testing against a story (user, team, or otherwise), then it should never be a story on your backlog.  Customers will not care how you write your code, so long as they get what they want, when they want it.  Stories must solve the customers’ problems, not the problems of the team.

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