User Stories Applied Book Summary - User Stories Applied Book explained in key points

User Stories Applied summary

Mike Cohn

Brief summary

User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn provides a comprehensive guide to using user stories in agile development. It offers practical techniques and real-world examples to help teams create effective user stories and deliver successful software.

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    User Stories Applied
    Summary of key ideas

    Understanding User Stories

    In User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn, we delve into the concept of user stories, a fundamental component of agile software development. Cohn begins by explaining that user stories are simple, informal descriptions of a feature or functionality from an end user's perspective. They are a way to capture what the user wants the system to do, and are written in a non-technical language to ensure that everyone involved in the project can understand them.

    He emphasizes that user stories are not a detailed specification but rather a placeholder for a conversation. They are meant to be a starting point for a dialogue between the development team and the stakeholders, allowing for a shared understanding of the requirements and expectations.

    Creating Effective User Stories

    Next, Cohn outlines the characteristics of a good user story. He introduces the INVEST model, which stands for Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small, and Testable. According to this model, a user story should be independent of other stories, negotiable in terms of its details, valuable to the end user, estimable in terms of effort, small enough to be completed within a single iteration, and testable to ensure its successful implementation.

    He also discusses the role of personas in user stories, explaining how they represent the different types of users who will interact with the system. By creating personas, the team can better understand the needs and goals of the end users, which in turn helps in crafting more effective user stories.

    Managing User Stories

    After establishing the basics, Cohn moves on to the management of user stories. He introduces the concept of a product backlog, a prioritized list of all the user stories for a project. The product backlog is dynamic and evolves as the project progresses, with new stories added, existing ones refined, and priorities adjusted based on feedback and changing requirements.

    He also discusses the process of estimating and planning user stories. Cohn suggests using relative estimation techniques, such as story points, to estimate the effort required for each story. This approach allows for a more accurate and less time-consuming estimation process, as it focuses on comparing the effort required for different stories rather than assigning absolute values.

    Implementing User Stories

    In the latter part of the book, Cohn explores the implementation of user stories. He discusses the concept of a sprint, a time-boxed iteration in which a set of user stories are implemented. He emphasizes the importance of breaking down the user stories into smaller tasks, estimating the effort required for each task, and tracking the progress throughout the sprint.

    Furthermore, Cohn highlights the significance of acceptance criteria in user stories. Acceptance criteria define the conditions that must be met for a user story to be considered complete. They serve as a shared understanding between the development team and the stakeholders, ensuring that the implemented functionality meets the user's expectations.


    In conclusion, User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, creating, managing, and implementing user stories in agile software development. By focusing on the needs and perspectives of the end users, user stories help in delivering software that truly meets the user's requirements. Cohn's practical insights and real-world examples make this book an invaluable resource for anyone involved in agile software development.

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    What is User Stories Applied about?

    User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn is a practical guide that demonstrates how user stories can be used effectively in software development. It provides real-world examples and techniques for creating and prioritizing user stories, as well as tips for incorporating them into agile processes. Whether you're a product owner, developer, or stakeholder, this book offers valuable insights into delivering customer value through user stories.

    User Stories Applied Review

    User Stories Applied (2004) by Mike Cohn is a practical guide for anyone involved in software development. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a clear and concise framework for creating effective user stories, helping teams prioritize and deliver value.
    • Real-world examples illustrate how to craft user stories that capture the essence of users' needs and guide development efforts.
    • The book's emphasis on collaboration and communication ensures that user stories are valuable, estimable, feasible, and testable.

    Who should read User Stories Applied?

    • Agile practitioners seeking practical guidance on writing effective user stories
    • Product owners, business analysts, and stakeholders involved in defining software requirements
    • Team members looking to improve their collaboration and communication skills in agile projects

    About the Author

    Mike Cohn is a renowned author and expert in the field of agile and Scrum. With over 20 years of experience, he has helped numerous organizations improve their software development processes. Cohn is the founder of Mountain Goat Software, a company that provides training and consulting services in agile methodologies. In addition to User Stories Applied, he has written several other highly regarded books, including Agile Estimating and Planning and Succeeding with Agile.

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    User Stories Applied FAQs 

    What is the main message of User Stories Applied?

    The main message of User Stories Applied is the importance of effective user stories in software development.

    How long does it take to read User Stories Applied?

    The reading time for User Stories Applied varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is User Stories Applied a good book? Is it worth reading?

    User Stories Applied is worth reading for software developers. It offers practical insights and guidance for implementing effective user stories.

    Who is the author of User Stories Applied?

    Mike Cohn is the author of User Stories Applied.

    What to read after User Stories Applied?

    If you're wondering what to read next after User Stories Applied, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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