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Zahmoo for developers: whose story?

If we’re developing a system or process based on user-stories, from whom do we capture those stories? Whose story is it?

The temptation, of course, is to write all of those stories ourselves – but in general that’s not a good idea. (The one time when it is useful to do that is when we’re ‘scratching an itch’, as programmers call it – building something to solve a practical problem of our own. But in that case, we may well end up being the only user – which also might not be a good idea.)

We also need to be careful about whose perspective we use. The temptation here is to build from our own viewpoint – after all, it’s our system, our process. But that too is rarely a good idea: remember Chris Potts‘ dictum from recrEAtion, that “Customers do not appear in our processes – we appear in their experiences”. We’re always part of a larger picture, and it’s in the links between the different parts that essential items so easily get lost. What our users will need here is a seamless flow across the whole of their story – so the user-stories we need here will show the connection to that larger picture, rather than solely our own part in that picture.

For example, take the literal metaphor of the market. Our system acts like a tiny window onto the overall market, and our users connect to our system through that tiny window onto the – to us – ‘outside world’. What we need to know is what would make it easy for them to talk with us – and what might get in the way.

Are we blocking the window with our advertising, our wares?

Is the window so small that it blocks out the possibility of conversations with other would-be users?

Is there so much clutter and chaos around the outside of the window that they can’t even get to see us?

What else is going on out there in the marketplace that might distract them, or disconnect them from our story?

And who are our users anyway? How would they identify themselves as our users? How and why do they choose – or not-choose – to be part of our story? What helps them make that choice? – and, equally important to us, the appropriate choice?

So that’s an important question here: whose story?

It’s not just our own story – the whole point is that it’s always a wider story, a shared story, that extends beyond just our own part of that overall story-space. Use Zahmoo to capture those broader user-stories, and connect them to the smaller stories that we need for our system- or process-design.

Image credit: Buying cheese by Space][rucker (‘fretro’) under a Creative Commons BY-ND-2.0 licence.

May 8th, 2012 by Zahmoo
Filed in: For Business, For Community
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Zahmoo is a story bank for collecting and sharing your family and business stories.