Once upon a time: 3 tips on how telling a fairy tale can help you slice!

fairy taleWhen I say “fairy tale”, where does your mind go? I’m pretty sure it’s either sweet childhood memories or fuzzy ones from your teenage – ok, in my case, more recent – years theme parties. For me, “fairy tale” has a completely different association! When you say fairy tale, I say refinement! Crazy? Maybe! Unconventional? Definitely! Very effective? Damn sure! 🙂 I’ll tell you all about it.

In refinements, I use fairy-tales when telling the story of a new epic or feature. One continuous flow of little pieces – user stories – that come together to make the picture – epic – complete. After an intensive refinement on a complex deliverable, I tell the story of this deliverable to my team in a fairy-tale fashion. This is my method to guarantee the integrity of my product features as a Product Owner. Todays post is about this method and how to use it to your advantage!

3 tips on how telling a fairy tale can help you slice!
Tip 1: There’s always a story line no matter what are you’re refining. Being it a new super duper feature of your product or the migration of one of your back office systems. The story is always there! So look closely and put your wizard hat on if needed! For example lets tell the fairy tale of paying with you mobile phone

Tip 2: Sit back, close your eyes and tell the fairy tale to your squad. Start as corny as all fairy tales do: “once upon a time there was a…” In case of our example above, it would be: “once upon a time, there was a customer that wanted to pay with his mobile phone.” Slowly going through all adventures (from MVP’s to user stories) that the hero of the fairy tale goes will be experiencing before the goal is met. And of course, end with: “and they lived happily ever after.” 🙂 Actively ask your squad to fill in any gaps in the fairy tale. You’ll see this brings up the tricky things that don’t show up at first glance but are key to your success! Ask again and again if you have missed anything. Don’t stop until everyone in your squad knows the fairy tale by heart.

Tip 3: Keep on repeating the fairy tale over and over again. Whenever you sit together to refine – parts of – the epic again; begin with telling the fairy tale. By doing so, you make sure everybody is on the same page quickly and everybody is aware of the big picture. Important, because we all know how easy it is to get lost in details…

This method has helped me a lot these last few years to implement some of the fantastic features of our product. I’ve used it when introducing a new product to the market as a pioneer but as well when doing infrastructure changes in our landscape. It always works!  And for those of you wondering…. No, I don’t tell my son Adam the same kind of fairy tales. He goes to bed dreaming of princes and princesses, just like anybody else! 🙂

That’s it folks! Cheers, Saloua

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