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New Book Alert: How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas


Introducing our enhanced book, “How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas.” Evolving from its predecessor, this edition responds to valuable reader feedback, refining both content and title. Delve into the world of effective product development and user story management, discovering the integrated power of the PBB Canvas. Embrace an enriched reading experience and explore insights from thought leader Jeff Gothelf in the preface. Don’t miss a reader’s insightful review, preserved for wider readership. Join us on this journey of empowering user story craftsmanship, and witness the transformation of your product development goals.

A message to Caroli.org blog readers

Dear Reader,

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of our newly revamped book, “How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas.” It is available on all Amazon sites. This book marks an exciting evolution in our journey of providing valuable insights into effective product development and user story management.

While not entirely new, this book is a significant enhancement over its predecessor, the “Product Backlog Building” book. Since its initial release a few months ago, we’ve been fortunate to receive invaluable feedback from readers like you. Among the valuable insights shared, one stood out prominently – the title itself.

book cover: "How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas."

In response to your feedback and to ensure the utmost value, I’ve meticulously refined the book’s content, enriched its title, and I’m delighted to present it to you once again.

It’s unfortunate that we had to part ways with the reviews that the original book had garnered. However, we’re genuinely excited to invite you to explore the new edition, which we’ve made available at the most accessible Kindle price. We cordially invite you to engage with the book and consider sharing your thoughts through a review. Your feedback is tremendously important as it motivates the authors on sharing more.

I am confident that the new content, combined with the revamped title, will provide an even more practical and impactful reading experience for you. You’ll discover how to effectively utilize the Product Backlog Building Canvas to craft and prioritize exceptional user stories that align with your product development goals.

To make this announcement even more special, I’m pleased to share that the preface for the book is penned by none other than Jeff Gothelf, a renowned thought leader in product development and user experience. His insights and endorsement add a valuable layer to the book’s value proposition.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in store for you:

The book preface

[Preface by Jeff Gothelf]

Srum has given us a whole new way to work. And in the years that we’ve used it, it’s caught on like wildfire.
Perhaps the most important process or artifact that came out of Scrum is the backlog. On its own, it’s a simple concept: a prioritized list of work that is time-boxed. It tells a team, “we’re planning on doing this much work in this amount of time.” That simplicity is its strength.

However, as is often the case, simple things are rarely easy to implement. Many questions arise when it is time to work on the backlog. These include:

  • What kind of work should go in the backlog?
  • Should it just be delivery work?
  • Should it be discovery work?
  • Should it be research?
  • Does design work go into the backlog?
  • What happens if the items that we put in the backlog exceed the time box?
  • What if we can’t get them done within the time frame that we’ve allotted?

These questions – and many others – make implementing a simple, fast, and lean backlog difficult to achieve.

Teams that utilize the backlog successfully possess a proven and objec- tive way to not only prioritize their work, but to have conversations with their stakeholders about what work they’re doing, why they’re doing it, why they’re prioritizing in a certain way and, perhaps, equally as important, what work they are not going to do.

In addition, as new ideas surface, as they often do during a software de- velopment project, the team gets to make objective and evidence-based decisions about whether to update the backlog. Mature teams know how to do this.

This book helps teams that are pursuing backlog success to determine exactly how to build a cross functional, successful, and realistic backlog that delivers value, collects evidence, and updates the prioritization and the work being done in each Sprint, objectively and in a customer-centered way.

JEFF GOTHELF, Coach, consultant, keynote speaker and author of the award-winning books, such as the Lean UX jeffgothelf.com

[End of Preface by Jeff Gothelf]

A nice book review

Please find below a thoughtful review for the book. As this review was going to disappear because I had changed the book name, I decided to copy and place it in this article, so more people can read it.

[Review for the book]

This book can be very useful for any Product Owner or Agile practitioner, especially if they have beginner to intermediate experience. If you already have a lot of experience, it might not add as much, but the integrated approach of the PBB (and Lean Inception) is helpful for explaining it to others.

Additionally, another thing I liked is that it’s a compact and “lean” book, without additional details that could make the reading more cumbersome than necessary.

In summary, the PBB method and its associated PBB Canvas allow you to collaboratively structure:

  • the “personas” or user archetypes, along with their expectations, challenges, and needs
  • functionalities and user stories (using the COORG prioritization method)

The book delves into the refinement of user stories, including:

  • how to write good stories
  • how to separate technical preparation tasks (spikes) and support tasks from the stories
  • how to write acceptance criteria and Gherkin scenarios (BDD)

Finally, the book presents how to integrate the PBB method with other techniques such as TAPAS (a quality verification method for stories, similar to INVEST) and with Lean Inception, a structured method for defining and launching a new product.

Although I have some different opinions on certain points, e.g.,

  • I am more in favor of User Story Mapping than PBB (even though they are different things)
  • the definition of “ready” is too heavy,
  • assigning analyst tasks to the Product Owner
  • too much emphasis on “Sprint 0”
  • etc.

I believe the book brings forth many ideas and, above all, the integration of the method. I will recommend it to the participants of my Professional Scrum Product Owner courses at Scrum.org.

I was debating between giving it 4* or 5*. I usually reserve 5* for exceptional books like “User Story Mapping,” “Continuous Delivery,” etc. However, I ultimately gave it 5* because the book can bring a lot of value to individuals with beginner to intermediate experience.

If you liked this review, please consider marking it as helpful.

Alex Ballarin, Professional Scrum Trainer at ITNOVE

[End of Review for the book]

Thank you

Thank you for your continued support and engagement. I look forward to your journey with “How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas.”

Wishing you insightful reading and transformative user story management!

Warm regards,

Paulo Caroli, “How to Define, Prioritize and Refine User Stories using the Product Backlog Building Canvas“ book co-author

More info

The book is available on all Amazon sites. Here is the link to the book page on Amazon.com

Here is an article related to the book on MartinFowler.com: Product Backlog Building Canvas, a collaborative tool to write User Stories



Paulo Caroli

Paulo Caroli is the author of the best-selling book “Lean Inception: How to Align People and Build the Right Product” (the first on a series of books on business agility). He's also the creator of FunRetrospectives.com , a site and book about retrospectives, futurospectives and team building activities. Caroli writes on this blog frequently. Receive the next post in your email. Sign up here.
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