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RE: [agile-usability] Origins of user stories

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  • William Hudson
    Agilists who know little or nothing about usability/UCD do try to take roles literally. I was talking with a client just a couple of weeks ago who pointed this
    Message 1 of 23 , Mar 27, 2013
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      Agilists who know little or nothing about usability/UCD do try to take roles
      literally. I was talking with a client just a couple of weeks ago who
      pointed this out as a problem with their introduction of UX design.

      Regards,

      William


      -----Original Message-----
      From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Adrian Howard
      Sent: 27 March 2013 12:11
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Origins of user stories

      I'd question whether the role slot in user stories often gets used in that
      way. The use-case "role" and the user story "role" tend to be used fairly
      differently in my experience.

      We hit the same name - different usage problem again.

      They're normally much closer to customer archetypes / persona in my
      experience (indeed most agile ux folk I know who adopt the story format slot
      persona into the role hole).

      Cheers,

      Adrian

      [snipped]
    • Adrian Howard
      ... My experiences differ. It does happen - of course - but my experiences of teams, even those without UX input, is that the roles are more often treated as
      Message 2 of 23 , Mar 27, 2013
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        On 27 March 2013 12:22, William Hudson <william.hudson@...> wrote:
        > Agilists who know little or nothing about usability/UCD do try to take roles
        > literally. I was talking with a client just a couple of weeks ago who
        > pointed this out as a problem with their introduction of UX design.

        My experiences differ.

        It does happen - of course - but my experiences of teams, even those
        without UX input, is that the roles are more often treated as market
        segments / archetypes / etc.

        They're certainly seem to treated much more generally than use-case type roles.

        Possibly you're seeing teams who are primarily transferring from
        use-cases to stories? In those situations it's certainly a common
        problem.

        Cheers,

        Adrian
        --
        http://quietstars.com adrianh@... twitter.com/adrianh
        t. +44 (0)7752 419080 skype adrianjohnhoward pinboard.in/u:adrianh
      • Larry Constantine
        ... the individual. Using it to represent users glosses over many of the inter-role issues like role ambiguity, role incompatibility, role conflict and so on.
        Message 3 of 23 , Mar 27, 2013
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          William said:

          > A role is a systemizing concept so really makes no allowance for needs of
          the individual. Using it to represent users glosses over many of the
          inter-role issues like role ambiguity, role incompatibility, role conflict
          and so on. Of course, we have Ivar Jacobson and use cases to thank for
          roles, and they're not entirely without merit, but someone filling role A in
          one context of use may have quite different needs to someone filling the
          same role in a different context. <

          The user role concept traces back to contributions from Rebecca Wirfs-Brock
          and was developed and elaborated in usage-centered design and later
          model-driven activity-centered design (Constantine and Lockwood). A role is
          a relationship between users and a system or service and is defined (ala
          Wirfs-Brock) by a characteristic set of needs, expectations, interests, and
          responsibilities in relation to the system/service and in the context of the
          activity in which the user is participating. As such, a user role focuses
          precisely on those issues most salient to effective interaction design (see
          my chapter in The Persona Lifecycle for persuasive support). That it blurs
          or compresses "individual differences" is precisely why it is a more compact
          and efficient model, particularly for agile design and development.
          Individual incumbents in a role vary immensely; the role itself is are far
          less variable. Individuals are extremely complicated; roles are far simpler.
          A well-formulated role absolutely does make allowance for the needs of the
          individual, but not as an individual, not as a person, but rather as an
          individual in a particular activity and in a particular relationship to a
          designed artifact.

          The critical issue in modeling for agile IxD/UxD is to model only what is
          most important to model, compactly and concisely, to focus on what is likely
          to yield the biggest payoff in guidance toward an effective design in the
          least amount of time. The templated user role profiles employed in
          usage-centered design and human activity modeling do just that,
          concentrating the modeler/designer's attention on those things that are most
          likely to directly impact and shape the design.

          The issues you mention-role ambiguity, role incompatibility, role
          conflict-are interesting from an intellectual standpoint and often play some
          part in a complete analysis of human activity (we incorporate them in our
          application of activity-theory to educational research, for instance), but
          the relationship of the actor in role to the designed artifact is far more
          relevant to designing that system or service. Inter-role issues that may be
          important in organizational dynamics or social psychology are typically far
          less central to getting the design right.

          In the most recent incarnation of the user role profile that we use in
          model-driven agile design (not yet written up), we have reduced the template
          further to include just 3 categories (ORB): Orientation, Responsibilities,
          and Background. Orientation and attitude of the actor in role to focal
          activities and to the designed artifact; Responsibilities of the actor in
          role within focal activities and with the designed artifact; Background
          characteristics expected in relation to use of the designed artifact within
          focal activities. This is a vast simplification from the concept of role in
          activity theory and role theory, but it zeroes in on the stuff that is most
          likely to make a difference, covering the bases on a single index card.

          Modeling efficiency and design leverage are behind most of my work and the
          usage/activity-centered design community. It is why we favor concise role
          profiles over the decorative embellishments of personas, why essential use
          cases win out over traditional concrete use cases and scenarios.

          Psychologists and humanists can plead for attention to the individual, but,
          as Don Norman and I pointed out some years ago, that is precisely the
          problem. It is the focus on humans, on individuals, that diverts our
          attention from the more important focus on what people are doing and trying
          to do, that is, on activity as mediated by designed artifacts. This badly
          needed shift in focus was behind my development of human activity modeling
          (with Don's encouragement and contributions) and then its adaptation to
          agile design and development. We drive AD&D by activity models not to
          capture a complete analysis embodied in those models but to move as quickly
          and efficiently as possible toward good designs. That means concentrating on
          roles and activities and glossing over stuff that is less critical to speedy
          solutions.

          Prof. Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
          Universidade da Madeira | Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
        • William Hudson
          Thanks, Larry. Very interesting. Do you know when Rebecca first started talking about roles? I have a paper here from Jacobson dated 1987 that describes their
          Message 4 of 23 , Mar 27, 2013
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            Thanks, Larry. Very interesting. Do you know when Rebecca first started
            talking about roles? I have a paper here from Jacobson dated 1987 that
            describes their use in OO development.

            BTW, I wasn't suggesting that designers of information systems should
            thoroughly research roles and their interrelationships. My point is more
            that roles are not a very useful focus of attention in many systems.

            Regards,

            William


            -----Original Message-----
            From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Larry Constantine
            Sent: 27 March 2013 13:06
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Origins of user stories

            William said:

            > A role is a systemizing concept so really makes no allowance for needs
            > of
            the individual. Using it to represent users glosses over many of the
            inter-role issues like role ambiguity, role incompatibility, role conflict
            and so on. Of course, we have Ivar Jacobson and use cases to thank for
            roles, and they're not entirely without merit, but someone filling role A in
            one context of use may have quite different needs to someone filling the
            same role in a different context. <

            The user role concept traces back to contributions from Rebecca Wirfs-Brock
            and was developed and elaborated in usage-centered design and later
            model-driven activity-centered design (Constantine and Lockwood). A role is
            a relationship between users and a system or service and is defined (ala
            Wirfs-Brock) by a characteristic set of needs, expectations, interests, and
            responsibilities in relation to the system/service and in the context of the
            activity in which the user is participating. As such, a user role focuses
            precisely on those issues most salient to effective interaction design (see
            my chapter in The Persona Lifecycle for persuasive support). That it blurs
            or compresses "individual differences" is precisely why it is a more compact
            and efficient model, particularly for agile design and development.
            Individual incumbents in a role vary immensely; the role itself is are far
            less variable. Individuals are extremely complicated; roles are far simpler.
            A well-formulated role absolutely does make allowance for the needs of the
            individual, but not as an individual, not as a person, but rather as an
            individual in a particular activity and in a particular relationship to a
            designed artifact.

            [snipped]
          • Gerard Meszaros
            ... Yes, they used cards for all sorts of purposes including organizing presentations by putting each thing they wanted to talk about onto a card. Easy to
            Message 5 of 23 , Mar 27, 2013
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              On 3/26/2013 10:03 PM, Adam Sroka wrote:
              > I can't remember who said it or the exact context, but I remember hearing that
              > Ward and Kent really liked using cards for a variety of different things and
              > that when stories came along it was just a natural fit.
              >
              >

              Yes, they used cards for all sorts of purposes including organizing
              presentations by putting each thing they wanted to talk about onto a card. Easy
              to reorganize the content simply by moving the card. Other agilist/OO people
              have adopted this style of presentation "notes" most notably (Uncle) Bob Martin
              (who rarely uses visuals in presentation) and Ron Jeffries (another CCC team
              member.)

              Gerard

              --
              Gerard Meszaros
              Lean/Agile Coach/Mentor/Trainer
              http://www.gerardmeszaros.com
              1-403-827-2967

              Author of the Jolt Productivity Award winning book "xUnit Test Patterns -
              Refactoring Test Code" and winner of the "Programming with the Stars"
              competition at Agile 2009. Learn more at http://xunitpatterns.com/index.html
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