User Stories: Beware of “yes, but…” more than a “No”

4564003386_b21410efa2_zNot so long ago, when I was the Product Manager of a mobile application, my mandate was to make the on-boarding of users of the app seamlessly easy. This app was an enterprise solution and needed an alpha-numeric code to unlock and start using (for various valid reasons). For the end user, obtaining this secret code from their company’s IT folks was complicated and made several users  install the app and never use this app. It would strike almost anyone as to why a normal (corporate) email authentication cannot be used for the purpose. To make end-users’ life easier by replacing the alphanumeric secret code with an email address, the work involved in the back-end was simply enormous. When I took the story to the Engineering Head, who was already inundated with too many things, the answer was not an expected “no”. I had every weapon in my armory to deflect a “no”. But I seem to have been outsmarted by a “Yes, but…”. I was told that there is an impending “fear” of the alphanumeric codes being shared and hence we must distribute two numbers instead – which will reduce the probability of a misuse. I was aghast at how this can solve anything I was trying to solve. I am not finishing the story and leave it to the imagination of the readers.

This is an instance of a user-story twisted to take a new avatar altogether – not achieving what it  proposed to. User stories which are enormous in effort must be split. Changing the direction to reduce development time is not a solution. Split user stories – never change direction.

Beware of a “Yes, but…” more than a “No”.

Photo Credit: Calleaghn

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