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How to run a great story kickoff in Jira

Tom Fairweather July 14, 2019

When we're ready to work on a story we run a story kickoff. For me, the most important aspects of that kickoff are:

- Everyone in the team arrives at a shared understanding of what we need to do

- That understanding is captured clearly and unambiguosly so we can refer back to it

- We have explored both happy paths and edge cases so that we minimise mistakes / unpleasant surprises


To fulfil these criteria there are some sub-aspects I like to see:

- We start with a blank slate so everyone is along for the journey (this doesn't preclude prep work)

- Everyone in the team is awake and focussed on the task in hand

- Everyone feels able to contribute

- We don't waste brain power on formal grammars when we are capturing our thoughts (such as given-when-thens)


For the last three years the technique I've used to tick all of these boxes is Example Mapping, which was invented by Matt Wynne of Cucumber.


What you need to run an Example Mapping session inside Jira:

- Your team of devs, testers, product owner, scrum master or what have you. Bring them together around a single screen, or run a video meeting and share your screen. We typically have some team members remote, so run a video meeting.

- Example Mapping for Jira app, Click the link to try it for free in the Atlassian Marketplace.


Get started

When you're ready to run a story kickoff, browse to the issue and click the Create Example Map button:


You will see the full screen editor, which allows you to capture rules, examples and questions. Repeat the following until you are out of ideas:

- Someone in the team suggests a rule

- Everyone thinks of examples that illustrate that rule (both happy and sad path)

- Some examples will drive out further rules

It is also important to capture questions as you go. Sometimes you can answer them straight away and other times you will come back to them.

Keep going until you are happy that all the rules have sufficient examples and you can't think of any more rules.

You can drag the rules around into an order that makes sense.

Here's a simple example to give you an idea:



After you are done with the story kickoff, Example Mapping for Jira formats your Example Mapping session directly into the issue view. The team can refer back to it as the story is being coded, tested, accepted, deployed etc. You can always go back to edit it if you need to. This is how the above example looks in the issue view:

highlight3-readonly.pngTeamUp Labs' Example Mapping tool has been on the web for a couple of years now and is used by companies such as Axa, Bloomberg, Maersk and Vonage. It has recently launched as a Jira app, with super-tight integration, no need to leave Jira, with all of your data stored in your own Jira org.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on!



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