How to create better understanding for user stories

Backlog Grooming Meeting

Just recently, I read about shared understanding in Jeff Paton’s book “User Story Mapping”. A couple of days later, I asked myself: “How am I actually creating better understanding of user stories during backlog grooming meetings?” 

In my first days as a product owner, the main goal of backlog grooming meetings was to get as many stories estimated. Nowadays, we know much better. Instead, our focus is on quality grooming.

In this post, I want to describe which strategies help to prepare high-quality backlog grooming meetings. These things helped me to create a better understanding of user stories in the team.

How are we doing backlog grooming?

Let me quickly explain, how we are doing backlog grooming meetings in general:

We are having backlog grooming meetings every week. This helps us to stay ahead of our work.

As we are a distributed team all our meetings are virtual (voice-only). Hence, everybody needs to speak up if things aren’t clear. 

Estimating story points shows the biggest misunderstandings in the team. Nevertheless, this isn’t enough in many situations. Having the same estimates during pointing poker, doesn’t necessary lead to shared understanding.

How to improve shared understanding?

These are the 3 basic rules that my team and myself experienced to work well.

  • Groom less stories in detail than many stories quickly and with shallow understanding.
  • Explain the context of a story. Relate stories to user needs and your product vision or long term goals.
  • Define product releases to show your team when and how you would like to achieve your goals.

In different words.. 

You need to explain what a story is about, why it is important and when it should be done.

Do you like this article? Checkout my posts about 8 skills every software engineer needs in a Scrum team to get a real team player.

Image Reference: Pixabay

This article was posted originally on Medium as "Why shared understanding should be the goal of backlog grooming"

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