What is a User Story?

Problems like death, taxes, and change are guaranteed in life. No matter how you plan, you are going to encounter problems, and change will impact your plans. To assume that your best laid-out plan will work is being naïve. 

When I plan, I always map multiple outcomes, this enables me to cover all the bases. Why is it relevant from a leadership perspective?  

I use this approach to coach my clients who are leaders in their organizations to help improve their overall chance of success. A leader’s ability to lead their organization through tough times is crucial to their success. 

In creating a plan, I call it a user story.  The user story defines the what, when, where and how of what I need to get done.   Here is the composition of the user story:

  • What needs to get done?  

The scope of work, the tasks involved, or activities. It also defines who will be working on it and how things will be done.

  • Happy path

This defines how to test the outcome of the plan. It means that the plan works according to plan. By defining this, we can use it to define the success criteria.

  • Success criteria

What does a successful outcome look like? What are the success criteria? How do we know we achieve our goal? Write down the answers to these and check on them periodically.

  • Unhappy path

Define what we will do when our plan does not work. What do we need to do to help us fix the issue? What are our options?   

  • Exception

This is my plan B or C. For every plan, I also define the alternate options that enable us to achieve our goals. By defining exceptions, we can focus on how to solidify our plan by identifying what other problems might come up.


I’ve been using this approach for many years, and I’ve noticed that it helped me solidify my plan and improve my ability to see through the possible problems that might come up. As leaders, we need to lead our people through the tough times. In order to do this, we need to create a good plan and be able to effectively accomplish the goals associated with the plan.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.