Why User Stories are so powerful: coordination without consensus

Forget about formats, at it’s foundation a User Story is a Boundary Object.

A boundary object is information which is:

  • both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and constraints of the several parties employing them and yet are robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites,
  • weakly structured in common use, and become strongly structured in individual-site use,
  • may be abstract or concrete,
  • has different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world to make them recognizable,
  • means of translation,
  • used in different ways by different communities for collaborative work, and
  • interpretable differently across communities but with enough immutable content to maintain integrity.

The creation and management of boundary objects is key in developing and maintaining coherence across intersecting social worlds, such as between users, product managers, designers and developers.

Going to the source of the idea of what a User Story is helps us understand more deeply what they can do and what they can achieve.