Since becoming a Certified Scrum Master, I’ve been able to work in an Agile Scrum environment on the job and use the techniques of the methodology in my private life. The next few posts will break down its concepts for non-software folks with the intent of providing tools for personal use.
Converting Goals to User Stories
In the software world, a user story is essentially a feature of the software. You would phrase the story like so:
“As a <type of user>, I want <feature>, so that I can <value derived from feature>.”
An example would be, “As an iPhone user, I want Flash support so that I can view the rest of the internet without worrying about whether website is HTML5 compliant.”
In your personal life, you might try enhancing yourself with new features, like so:
“As a Muslim, I want to obtain an ‘ijazah in tajweed so that I can recite the Qur’an correctly”.
What’s great about user stories is they conceptualize the role that will get the best use out of the feature, the feature itself, and then the value, the why-should-I-do-this? behind the feature / goal.
The same feature can benefit different people and have other values. For example:
“As a Qur’an teacher, I want to obtain an ‘ijazah in tajweed so that I can be of those who protect the Qur’an and teach others proper recitiation.”
Same goal, different roles and values. The key is that you choose the one that is most meaningful and motivating for you – which of these is giving you the most motivational bang-for-your-buck?
Complete Your User Story in One Sprint
Sprints are essentially short blocks of time, anywhere between 3 – 6 weeks. Let’s say you want to make your sprint interval 4 weeks. Your goal should be to either complete your user story within that 4 week interval. If you don’t complete it within that 4 week interval, you’ll assess why you didn’t complete it, take the lessons learned, and then you may or may not continue working on that user story, depending on your priorities at the beginning of the next sprint.
But what if you know the user story you’ve chosen will take longer than 4 weeks? What if you know it’ll take two years? The answer is you break it down into smaller user stories, and if those are too big, then you break them down further until they’re down to a level where you can complete the user story within four weeks.
Going back to your tajweed ‘ijazah example, you’ll focus breaking down the work until you have something you’re confident can be completed in four weeks, like so:
“As a Muslim, I want to obtain an ‘ijazah in tajweed so that I can recite Qur’an correctly.”
“As a student of tajweed, I want to complete juz ‘amma in 3 months, so that I can recite the most commonly recited surahs immediately.”
“As a student of tajweed, I want to complete the last 1/3rd of juz ‘amma so that I can get started with my juz ‘amma goal.”
As mentioned earlier, at the end of the month, you’ll find you may or may not have completed the sprint goal. In future posts insha’Allah we can talk about sprint assessments, sprint reviews, and more to decide how to proceed once a sprint is completed.
Write Your Own Story
What enhancements would you like for yourself? Take a shot at writing your own user stories below.