I was in a discussion earlier this week about user stories and one of my colleagues states that 'as a' was about the actor and I had an immediate allergic reaction to that statement. 'As a' should point to who is getting value no matter who or if they are anyone else is performing a specific action. As a user of many products, way to many organizations think I am actually interested in entering data or performing some action and have not thought about my need.
Give me something for nothing
Let me start with an example.
In order to respond quickly to my friendsAs a Facebook userI want to be notified when someone comments on my status
This story is hoping to benefit the person whose status is being commented on. The person acting in this case is a friend leaving a comment. The person getting value did not have to take an action to get this value.
However, what if it is not what they wanted...
I don't want to use your form or enter data
Sometimes getting value does require the user to take some action. Most of the time the user does not want to act or wants to do as little as possible to get the value. Let me give another example on the same situation.
In order to avoid silly interruptionsAs a Facebook userI do not want notifications from certain people
In this case it is likely that this user will need to take action. Actions is not what they want however, it rarely is. They want to avoid getting certain notifications.
It is my experience that focusing on the actor often leads to solving the wrong problem or solving the problem in a poor way. Reminder: The user rarely wants to enter data.
How many of your stories are thinking about the actor? Try rewriting your story to think about who the primary beneficiary is and see if that leads to a better solution.
It is also value not format
The format we are talking about is not very important. The important thing is are we thinking about who gets value, whose problem are we solving and are we solving it in a way that is simple and straight forward.