Use Cases + User Stories to Make You Nimble

Insights from Ivar Jacobson on leveraging use cases and user stories, emphasizing a tailored approach with Essence framework for nimbleness.

In the fast-paced world of software development and organizational management, the quest for nimbleness, i.e. the ability to sense and respond rapidly and precisely to changes is paramount. This episode of the Brazilian BA Guest brings insights shared by Ivar Jacobson, a pioneering figure in software engineering. Jacobson’s expertise sheds light on the synergistic potential of use cases and user stories in achieving organizational nimbleness and agility.

The Essence of Agility in Modern Organizations

Jacobson emphasizes that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” method to become nimble. Instead, he introduces the concept of creating a customized ecosystem of practices, highlighting the importance of selecting practices from this ecosystem and composing them into well-functioning methods to fit an organization’s specific needs. This approach underlines the core principle of agile methodologies: adaptability and responsiveness to change.

Uniting Use Cases and User Stories for Enhanced Flexibility

A significant portion of the discussion revolves around the integration of use cases and user stories. Jacobson, known as the father of use cases, articulates how these elements, traditionally seen as distinct or even competing, can indeed complement each other. User stories, with their focus on delivering small, actionable chunks of work, and use cases, providing a broader narrative of user interactions, together offer a comprehensive toolkit for agile teams.

Introducing Essence: A Framework for Software Engineering Practices

Jacobson introduces Essence, a versatile framework that acts as a foundation for defining and refining different practices. Essence offers a standardized vocabulary and structure that facilitates clarity and mutual understanding among teams. This framework is pivotal for teams striving to adapt their methodologies to better suit project requirements and organizational goals.

Fostering a Community-Driven Approach to Methodology Improvement

The conversation delves into the efforts to standardize the Essence framework and its role in encouraging a collaborative approach to enhancing software engineering practices. By establishing international standards and fostering a community around these practices, Jacobson highlights the potential for shared growth and evolution in the field of software development and business analysis.

AI’s Role in Future-Proofing Agile Methodologies

Looking ahead, Jacobson shares his optimistic view on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in augmenting the business analysis process and the development of use cases and user stories. The integration of AI promises to enhance the precision and efficiency of these methodologies, further enabling teams to become nimble in a constantly evolving landscape.

Ivar Jacobson

An Additional Note About Essence from Ivar Jacobson

Essence has so many perspectives. We have identified 15 but there are many more. We are constantly finding more and better ways to describe Essence, and improving and iterating its tooling. I’ve asked Simon Girvan to create a short video for each of them and you can find those videos here: An Introduction to Essence and TeamSpace.

The videos

  1. The first video “Essence and TeamSpace – an introduction” starts with the quote “Essence is key to success” by Jeff Sutherland, co-founder of Scrum. It provides an elevator pitch to Essence and TeamSpace (our tool for implementing the Essence use cases). In the end, it presents how to dig deeper into the Essence of interest to different people. This leads to point 2.
  2. Then there are 15 videos each presenting a perspective of Essence or TeamSpace such as “What is Essence”, “What is the value proposition”, Why do we say that “AI+Essence > > AI for technology”. You can choose to watch one of them and when you’re done you can go back and watch another etc. until you’ve seen enough.
  3. At the end, there is a video “Conclusions and next steps”, which you cannot miss.

Therefore, this set of videos will change as we improve their content, presentation style, tooling examples, etc. Accordingly, feedback on how they can be improved will be greatly appreciated. 

Email me and/or Simon Girvan

However, even today, they represent a good insight into the many use cases of Essence and should provide viewers with enough information to allow them to evaluate Essence and see how it could benefit them.

Can Use Cases and User Stories be partners for nimbleness?

Can Use Cases and User Stories be partners for nimbleness?

Watch it on YouTube.

Listen to it on Spotify.

Reference material

  1. This episode of The Brazilian BA Guest on LinkedIn.
  2. More about nimble.
  3. Nov-11-2023 The paper “Use Cases are Essential” was published in ACM Queue and downloaded almost 12’000 times.
  4. Nov-11-2023 a meetup ‘Use Cases are Essential’ to promote use cases.
  5. Feb-14-2024 The Use Case Foundation, which is supposed to work as a common ground for any use case practice. This is a very important document (base practice) for anyone wanting to write their use case practices and associated training.
  6. Feb-16-2024 Call to Action statement.
  7. On the same day the LinkedIn Group ‘Reframing Use Cases’ was set up. Most members are interested in helping use cases to come back.
  8. March-12-2024 LinkedIn article telling people that we would start setting up initiatives as we said we would do in the Call to Action statement.
  9. March-13-2024 The first initiative, integrating use cases and user stories with Mike Cohn, Ian Spence, and Gunnar Övergaard.
  10. March-26-2024 The second initiative, integrating use cases and BDD/ATDD.