capture product ideas

Agile QuickTip: User Stories and Product Ideas Should be Born on Index Cards

How Do You Capture Your User Stories and Product Ideas? Try Index Cards

Here’s an out of the box idea that at first glance might seem counter-intuitive. I believe that user stories and product ideas should be born on index cards, rather than immediately logged electronically.

Most Agile or scrum teams will use some kind of electronic tool as a repository for their product backlog. This could be a JIRA, or Rally, or it might be something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet that houses user stories. Sometimes, however, an electronic tool can serve as a barrier to creativity and collaboration, exactly what you need for brainstorming and idea generation.

A better way to capture these ideas is by using an index card or a sticky note. Think about how ideas are generated. The product owner will be talking to users, engaging with customers, discussing with stakeholders or even informally chatting with their own team members.  Pausing conversations to type notes into a computer or mobile phone would really slow those conversations down. Capturing these ideas on an index cards has a few key benefits:

  1. It makes the whole process a lot more tactile, supporting different kinds of learning and collaboration.
  2. It encourages others to participate at these vital early stages where creative sparks can fly more easily. Everyone can contribute ideas on their own post-its.
  3. It allows the Product Owner to take leadership over which ideas are best and should be included in the repository. Index cards can be moved, groups, prioritized, etc.
  4. It streamlines the eventual list of ideas and user stories to the most essential and immediate. Not all the ideas should make it into the repository. Product Owners can filter the sticky notes or index cards they want to include.

Give it a try next time you’re with your team, and let me know in the comments if it makes a difference!

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