User Story Mapping

I just finished reading User Story Mapping – Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product (Jeff Patton with Peter Economy, 276 pages, 2014), and I really like this book.

I’ve read quite a few technical books related to software development, but this one really stands out. Other books also have quite some interesting author voices, humor, etc. But here I had the feeling that even more “book design patterns” were broken, in a good way, with lots of interesting pictures and images all along, and a quite engaging use of the language.

The content is also great! The main idea behind the book is the concept of story mapping, which is a way to organize “user stories” (with more ‘stories’, and less ‘users’) in a physical disposition from left to write, allowing people to have discussions on how a specific task or workflow is sequentially done.

This can be used equally well to describe how things are today vs how they will be later. And also, to describe the user journey inside a specific software solution. It is a generic, yet powerful tool.

The book, however, is also about all the other things that happen even before we decide to take on a new software project (as for business opportunities, problem discovery), to the point of reviewing and validating what was eventually built.

And it does all of that with brutal honesty and straightforwardness. Not with secret success formulas, but with lots of tips for the trade-offs and pitfalls all around modern software practice.

If this sounds interesting to you, I can guarantee you will love reading this book as much as I did.


Trillion Dollar Coach

I concluded recently Trillion Dollar Coach – The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell (Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle, 2019, 240 pages).

This is an amazing book that brings a leadership perspective that, first of all, is very human and positive in values. And, secondly, works so well that it made its way into the DNA of companies like Intuit, Google, Apple, etc.

The main character behind the book is the well-known coach Bill Campbell, who, among other major accomplishments, was Intuit’s CEO, long-time Apple board member (and Steve Jobs close friend), as well as coach to the leadership team at Google.

Bill did not have a great track record as a football coach, as he himself liked to point out. But the decade or so spent with football teams laid the foundation for his approach to business later on.

The principle behind is, in short, showing love and support for all team members, and demanding extremely high levels of integrity, honesty, respect, trust, and humility of everyone involved.

Teams can always accomplish more than individuals, was his belief. For that to work, a sense of team identity must prevail over even the most brilliant and performant individuals. Bill, by the way, loved and cared a lot about those extremely highly performant employees. Teams, however, matter even more, and must the at the core of any organization.

Building communities was another big topic for him, and something he spent lots of energy on. That has something to do with why Bill was considered as “best friend” by dozens of people. Not only because he generously gave his time and cared about all his close friends, but also because he found ways of nurturing the relationships via communities on a continuous basis.

The only thing Bill didn’t tolerate, and which was interesting to understand better how, through this book, is people who are not “coachable”. In essence, there is no point in spending time and energy coaching someone that, for example, is not humble enough or willing to see her own flaws. Wanting to work hard and really improve on all aspects of life was a sine qua non.

If coaching is something you are aware of, and wants to get the best insights possible about, either to coach or be coached, this is the right book for you.