I hear this challenge over and over again from Product Owners. They have little to no problem writing functional User Stories, but then…
Bob, the team is placing tremendous pressure on me to write technology centric User Stories. For example, stories focused on refactoring, or architectural evolution, or even bug fixing. While I’d love to do it, every time I give them to the team and we discuss them, they nit-pick the contents and simply push back saying they can’t even estimate them in their current state.
So I’m stuck in a vicious cycle of rinse & repeat until the team gets frustrated and pulls an ill-defined story into a sprint. And this normally “blows up” the sprint. What can I do?
I think the primary root cause of this problem is that the company views the Product Owner role as the final arbiter of user stories; meaning they need to write them all. I feel that’s an anti-pattern myself, but the question remains, what to do in this situation.
I’ve seen several clients apply approaches that significantly helped in handling, what I refer to here, as technical user stories. Let me share a couple of real-world stories (nor user stories mind you ;-) that should help you envision some alternatives.