Story mapping is at the front of my mind because I have spent much of last week helping out a new agile team to use story mapping for their first agile project, as you can see above. Also, I attended a recent agile meetup (under the auspices of the Melbourne Agile Business Analysts group) that covered the topic…see further reading.
When people talk about agile story mapping, a lot of people refer to Jeff Patton’s The new user story backlog is a map blog entry from 2008. At the meetup, it was mentioned that Patton admits that he wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of visually representing a product backlog. He views it as a pattern rather than an innovation, as he puts it in his plog post:
I always remind myself of the litmus test for a pattern. If you explain someone a concept and they say “what a cool idea!” it’s not a pattern. But if they say “we’re doing something like that too!” it’s a pattern. I’ve seen this often enough now that I believe it’s a pattern. – Jeff Patton
“Back of the door chunk priority list”
Here’s a war story about an agile product backlog that was created back in 2006 which is something like what is now commonly known as story mapping. I can see some aspects of the story mapping pattern in the way the backlog was assembled on that project. At the time, I didn’t really have a name for it, but if forced to name it now, it would be, “Back of the door chunk priority list”. Catchy, eh?