See Dick See Dick the PM Run

See Dick.
See Dick run.
Run Dick run.

See Jane.
See Jane run.
Run Jane run.

You get the idea.

When I was in the first grade, those were the first sentences I remember reading.  I remember being frustrated by this because this isn’t really how we talk.  Well, actually, it isn’t how I talk.

I suffer from a self-described affliction called over-descriptivitis.  I can’t help but elaborate on any and every idea I’m trying to articulate.  I never thought it was a problem.  I merely communicate the greatest level of granular detail to my recipient and allowed them to filter out the extraneous information.  If my wife asks me what I did at work today, I will tell her everything in chronological order.  TMI?

My wife is very forgiving when it comes to me offering more than she asks for.  Sometimes she just puts her hand up and asks, “can I have the abridged version?”  My over-descriptivitis was even addressed in our wedding vows.

I promise I will tell you the time, not how the clock was built.

So,what’s the point I’m trying to get across? It’s about articulating requirements.  It doesn’t matter if you’re using shall statements or user stories.  You need to go into enough detail that the person reading it understands your need(s).  After you decide on your format, try to be consistent.

Formal shall statement format:
The [activity] shall [desired outcome]

Standard user story format:
As a [perspective], I want to [activity], so I can [desired outcome]

Though it may be my over-descriptivitis acting up, I prefer using user stories.  I like the fact that it paints a clearer picture.

How about you?  Do you prefer formal shall statements or user stories? Why?

Agile Training

About Derek Huether

I'm an Enterprise Agile Coach at LeadingAgile. I have a goal to take the hand waving out of Agile, Kanban, & Scrum. I’m a strange combination of a little OCD, a little ADHD, a lot of grit, and a lot of drive. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)