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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Another User Story terminology thread - Epics/Themes

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  • Jesse Houwing
    I can echo the epic as container concept from many customers I work with. They re also used to capture vague requirements/desirements that need refinement. And
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 5, 2013
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      I can echo the epic as container concept from many customers I work with. They're also used to capture vague requirements/desirements that need refinement. 

      And I also see a lot of 'features'. They're a number of epics/stories which combined deliver a marketable set of functionality. 

      I don't see many theme's, though in TFS, we use Area's to group features/epics/stories into logical groups. These might be themes, but they could also be set up to represent layers, components or any other logical grouping.

      We also use linking of TFS work items to create logically grouped items, similar bugs, stories with the same underlying technology etc. I do see theme's surface here, though we don't call them as such.

      In the end, I do see our customers to attempt to logically group the work, though from a tooling perspective, I'd prefer tagging over linking or grouping or creating hierarchies. They're much more flexible.

      Jesse


      On Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 6:43 AM, Christofer Jennings <boz.lists@...> wrote:


      My current project uses Jira/GH (green hopper). We don't have themes. We don't have epics in jira/gh either, but they are in some spreadsheets… and their authors label them as "stories" for the legacy reason that they are new to all this Agile stuff and thought stories could be something rather large. We don't use 'epic' in jira/gh because it isn't very well implemented vis a vis linking to stories. … So many forces affecting terminology.

      Glad you brought up the topic of themes. They might be a way to deal with something I see happening. The SMEs (subject matter experts) who write the epics do it from the perspective of the user, i.e., the user of the legacy system transitioning to the new system. The 'stories' they write cover a lot of ground because that's how they see the users seeing the system. Their stories also tend to have to be broken up into more technically oriented 'stories' that the developers can digest. Often a developer level story has a cross-cutting effect on the SME's stories. The cross-cutting makes it hard to organize the developer level stories relative to the SME's. (we're required to track) Maybe the theme concept could help us here. It sounds like themes could have less 'plot' than stories. That is, they could have less to do with defining how a user gets something done. They could be more oriented toward simple organization and grouping.

      Sound reasonable? Does this work for or against Mr. Bradley's concern on the terminology getting diluted?

      ,chris


      On Dec 19, 2012, at 7:10 PM, Michael Wollin <yahoo@...> wrote:



      I've seen "feature" used as theme - an epic or a collection of stories related to a function, like printing. Mingle rolls stories into epics. 

      On Dec 19, 2012, at 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and Coach <chuck-lists2@...> wrote:


      No, it's not what you're thinking... at least it's not about an article or anything like that.

      Here it is...

      In the earlier works on User Stories (Cohn, at least -- maybe there's more), the concept of an "Epic" was something like a "big story" or "a story too big to fit into a sprint".  A "Theme" was something like "a collection of related stories."  

      In more recent years, I haven't seen much use of the term Theme, but I have seen quite a bit of use of the term Epic, to mean *either* a big story, *or* a collection of Stories(thus taking on the meaning of a Theme).

      I've noticed this in the last few years.  I first noticed it in one of my clients 3 years ago(especially in use at the D/Director/VP level), then I noticed it in Pivotal Tracker and Greenhopper in the last year.  

      Has anyone else seen this use(misuse?) of the terminology?  Do we (as a community, and as practitioners) care that the term has been co-opted?  Is the impact so small as to not worry about it?
       
      -------
      Charles Bradley
      Scrum Coach-in-Chief
      ScrumCrazy.com









    • George Dinwiddie
      Charles, On 12/19/12 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and ... I ve seen lots of organization use lots of different terminology. Often they
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 5, 2013
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        Charles,

        On 12/19/12 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and
        Coach wrote:
        >
        >
        > No, it's not what you're thinking... at least it's not about an article
        > or anything like that.
        >
        > Here it is...
        >
        > In the earlier works on User Stories (Cohn, at least -- maybe there's
        > more), the concept of an "Epic" was something like a "big story" or "a
        > story too big to fit into a sprint". A "Theme" was something like "a
        > collection of related stories."
        >
        > In more recent years, I haven't seen much use of the term Theme, but I
        > have seen quite a bit of use of the term Epic, to mean *either* a big
        > story, *or* a collection of Stories(thus taking on the meaning of a Theme).
        >
        > I've noticed this in the last few years. I first noticed it in one of
        > my clients 3 years ago(especially in use at the D/Director/VP level),
        > then I noticed it in Pivotal Tracker and Greenhopper in the last year.
        >
        > Has anyone else seen this use(misuse?) of the terminology? Do we (as a
        > community, and as practitioners) care that the term has been co-opted?
        > Is the impact so small as to not worry about it?

        I've seen lots of organization use lots of different terminology. Often
        they use "feature" instead of either "epic" or "theme." I've seen
        "capability" for the middle level. I don't worry about it much as long
        as people in the organization find it clear and agree on the
        terminology. Often a term must be avoided because it has multiple
        meanings in the organization.

        - George

        --
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
        Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
        Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      • Chet Hendrickson
        Hi, I use feature to refer to a thing the business/stakeholders want from us. I use story and user story interchangeably for the team s description of a
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 5, 2013
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          Hi,

          I use 'feature' to refer to a thing the business/stakeholders want from us.  I use 'story' and 'user story' interchangeably for the team's description of a feature or features.  I don't use 'epic' or 'theme' or 'saga' or 'ode'.  I don't know what they mean and I bet, like me, you have seen too much time spent determining when one category ends and another starts.  

          I call them all 'stories'.  Some are small enough to be scheduled into a Sprint and others aren't.  And some, we don't know enough about to know.

          chet

          Chet Hendrickson



          On Jan 5, 2013, at 2:29 PM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:

           

          Charles,

          On 12/19/12 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and
          Coach wrote:
          >
          >
          > No, it's not what you're thinking... at least it's not about an article
          > or anything like that.
          >
          > Here it is...
          >
          > In the earlier works on User Stories (Cohn, at least -- maybe there's
          > more), the concept of an "Epic" was something like a "big story" or "a
          > story too big to fit into a sprint". A "Theme" was something like "a
          > collection of related stories."
          >
          > In more recent years, I haven't seen much use of the term Theme, but I
          > have seen quite a bit of use of the term Epic, to mean *either* a big
          > story, *or* a collection of Stories(thus taking on the meaning of a Theme).
          >
          > I've noticed this in the last few years. I first noticed it in one of
          > my clients 3 years ago(especially in use at the D/Director/VP level),
          > then I noticed it in Pivotal Tracker and Greenhopper in the last year.
          >
          > Has anyone else seen this use(misuse?) of the terminology? Do we (as a
          > community, and as practitioners) care that the term has been co-opted?
          > Is the impact so small as to not worry about it?

          I've seen lots of organization use lots of different terminology. Often
          they use "feature" instead of either "epic" or "theme." I've seen
          "capability" for the middle level. I don't worry about it much as long
          as people in the organization find it clear and agree on the
          terminology. Often a term must be avoided because it has multiple
          meanings in the organization.

          - George

          --
          ----------------------------------------------------------
          * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
          Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
          Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
          ----------------------------------------------------------


        • Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trai
          Thanks to all for the feedback on this thread.  What I gathered, in terms of my original questions, is that the community has seen this practice, doesn t care
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 6, 2013
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            Thanks to all for the feedback on this thread.  What I gathered, in terms of my original questions, is that the community has seen this practice, doesn't care that much about the mixing of the terms, and the impact of the mixing is not that important.  Many pointed to the key strategy that terms be fairly well understood inside of a particular team or organization, which make sense.  I'm personally ok with all of this. 

            Out of deference for the User Story pioneers, and those who are active in the community, I just wanted to get a sense for where the community stands.

            I thank you all for your input and intend to reflect future writings/trainings/coachings to reflect the community sentiment.
             
            -------
            Charles Bradley
            Scrum Coach-in-Chief
            ScrumCrazy.com




            From: Chet Hendrickson <lists@...>
            To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2013 1:29 PM
            Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Another User Story terminology thread - Epics/Themes



            Hi,

            I use 'feature' to refer to a thing the business/stakeholders want from us.  I use 'story' and 'user story' interchangeably for the team's description of a feature or features.  I don't use 'epic' or 'theme' or 'saga' or 'ode'.  I don't know what they mean and I bet, like me, you have seen too much time spent determining when one category ends and another starts.  

            I call them all 'stories'.  Some are small enough to be scheduled into a Sprint and others aren't.  And some, we don't know enough about to know.

            chet

            Chet Hendrickson



            On Jan 5, 2013, at 2:29 PM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:

             
            Charles,

            On 12/19/12 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and
            Coach wrote:
            >
            >
            > No, it's not what you're thinking... at least it's not about an article
            > or anything like that.
            >
            > Here it is...
            >
            > In the earlier works on User Stories (Cohn, at least -- maybe there's
            > more), the concept of an "Epic" was something like a "big story" or "a
            > story too big to fit into a sprint". A "Theme" was something like "a
            > collection of related stories."
            >
            > In more recent years, I haven't seen much use of the term Theme, but I
            > have seen quite a bit of use of the term Epic, to mean *either* a big
            > story, *or* a collection of Stories(thus taking on the meaning of a Theme).
            >
            > I've noticed this in the last few years. I first noticed it in one of
            > my clients 3 years ago(especially in use at the D/Director/VP level),
            > then I noticed it in Pivotal Tracker and Greenhopper in the last year.
            >
            > Has anyone else seen this use(misuse?) of the terminology? Do we (as a
            > community, and as practitioners) care that the term has been co-opted?
            > Is the impact so small as to not worry about it?

            I've seen lots of organization use lots of different terminology. Often
            they use "feature" instead of either "epic" or "theme." I've seen
            "capability" for the middle level. I don't worry about it much as long
            as people in the organization find it clear and agree on the
            terminology. Often a term must be avoided because it has multiple
            meanings in the organization.

            - George

            --
            ----------------------------------------------------------
            * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
            Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
            Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
            ----------------------------------------------------------






          • daswartz@prodigy
            Dean Leffingwell s Scaled Agile Framework, targeted at large organizations, uses feature and story in much the same way as Chet. A story is what teams work on.
            Message 5 of 13 , Jan 7, 2013
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              Dean Leffingwell's Scaled Agile Framework, targeted at large
              organizations, uses feature and story in much the same way as Chet.

              A story is what teams work on. A feature is something a marketer could
              put in a product brochure. A feature might be implemented by one
              story, but often takes more than one. An epic is larger than a
              feature and represents an organizational initiative. Epics often longer
              than one release to execute.

              For example, an epic for a software product might be "Implement
              single sign-on". Features could be "Active Directory Integration, and
              Sign-on using Facebook login"

              Doug Swartz

              Saturday, January 5, 2013, 2:29:54 PM, you wrote:

              > Hi,



              > I use 'feature' to refer to a thing the business/stakeholders want
              > from us. I use 'story' and 'user story' interchangeably for the
              > team's description of a feature or features. I don't use 'epic' or
              > 'theme' or 'saga' or 'ode'. I don't know what they mean and I bet,
              > like me, you have seen too much time spent determining when one
              > category ends and another starts.




              > I call them all 'stories'. Some are small enough to be scheduled
              > into a Sprint and others aren't. And some, we don't know enough about to know.




              > chet




              >
              > Chet Hendrickson

              > lists@...




              >
              >

              > On Jan 5, 2013, at 2:29 PM, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:


              >
              >
              > Charles,
              >
              > On 12/19/12 8:25 PM, Charles Bradley - Professional Scrum Trainer and
              > Coach wrote:
              >>
              >>
              >> No, it's not what you're thinking... at least it's not about an article
              >> or anything like that.
              >>
              >> Here it is...
              >>
              >> In the earlier works on User Stories (Cohn, at least -- maybe there's
              >> more), the concept of an "Epic" was something like a "big story" or "a
              >> story too big to fit into a sprint". A "Theme" was something like "a
              >> collection of related stories."
              >>
              >> In more recent years, I haven't seen much use of the term Theme, but I
              >> have seen quite a bit of use of the term Epic, to mean *either* a big
              >> story, *or* a collection of Stories(thus taking on the meaning of a Theme).
              >>
              >> I've noticed this in the last few years. I first noticed it in one of
              >> my clients 3 years ago(especially in use at the D/Director/VP level),
              >> then I noticed it in Pivotal Tracker and Greenhopper in the last year.
              >>
              >> Has anyone else seen this use(misuse?) of the terminology? Do we (as a
              >> community, and as practitioners) care that the term has been co-opted?
              >> Is the impact so small as to not worry about it?
              >
              > I've seen lots of organization use lots of different terminology. Often
              > they use "feature" instead of either "epic" or "theme." I've seen
              > "capability" for the middle level. I don't worry about it much as long
              > as people in the organization find it clear and agree on the
              > terminology. Often a term must be avoided because it has multiple
              > meanings in the organization.
              >
              > - George
              >
              > --
              > ----------------------------------------------------------
              > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
              > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
              > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
              > ----------------------------------------------------------
            • Ken 'classmaker' Ritchie
              That seems like the simplest thing that could [and does] work. Kudos to you, Chet, for the gentle smack of Einstein s KISS (... Simple & Sufficient). Just
              Message 6 of 13 , Jan 7, 2013
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                That seems like the simplest thing that could [and does] work. 

                Kudos to you, Chet, for the gentle smack of "Einstein's KISS" (... Simple & Sufficient). Just enough. I needed that! 

                Cheers all,
                --Ken ;-)

                Ken Ritchie 
                Classmaker


                On Jan 5, 2013, at 15:29, Chet Hendrickson <lists@...> wrote:

                I call them all 'stories'.  Some are small enough to be scheduled into a Sprint and others aren't.  And some, we don't know enough about to know.

                chet

                Chet Hendrickson
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