The downside of being a senior software developer is to fail a lot over the course of time. As failure has it, it also generates major learnings. In my professional carrier I experienced working with MVPs often as something that did not quite match the wording “minimal”, or “viable”, or seldomly even “product”.
From my point of view, one of the reasons was because some stakeholders’ expectations dominated too fast the idealized outcome rather than grasping the core aspects of the product-to-be. I’d like to share my experience with a concept that is not that young but worked out
User Story Mapping as means of distilling an MVP backlog
Then I learned about User Story Mapping during an agile workshop - for me a profound experience. I’d like to describe this workshop in brevity so I can present my argument:
So we started to gather a large backlog of tasks represented as user stories mainly because each group member’s daily routine differed just so much. Every round the moderator asked us if our task board included to course user stories or stories that could be shaved away if we REALLY REALLY REALLY were in a hurry.
The outcome was in my eyes amazing because the group achieved way more than I expected. My group started to concentrate on the most basic stories rather than throwing ideas in a hat and letting the imaginary developing team do the fickle rest. This allowed us a broad perspective which in the end could resemble a solution seen from a user’s eyes.
What we built was the main line of stories that solely consisted of the utmost necessary stories in order to run the task. In my eyes, that story map was comparable to stories that would make an excellent MVP in a granularity or even clarity which I missed in other real-life MVPs.
Of course, we collected quite a detailed view of aspects being left out. I count that as a bonus because some gained insights to tasks that were oblivious to the other members of the group.
I am aware that a workshop is something different than a day-to-day development routine. That being said I still see it as an incredibly wonderful measure to see through the eyes of different stakeholders in order to create something small enough to see it running quickly.
A note on Event Storming:
My experience of this workshop may sound like Event Storming (which also has its own justification). Telling from the resulting user story map, we did focus on a finer granularity than on high-level aspects in order to gain a working “product”.