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Please Note: User Stories are not a part of Scrum. User Stories are just one technique among many (Use Cases, Prose requirements, Test Scenarios, etc)to implement Product Backlog Items within Scrum.

This is a diagram I have created to illustrate a potential life cycle for a User Story, as well as how the Agile planning levels relate to the clarity of a User Story at different stages. The presence of the airplane coming in for landing is a metaphor for how you can view he different levels. At the request level, you're at a higher altitude, can barely see the airport, etc, all the way down to approach and then landing the plane as the User Story functionality and automated tests are completed. All metaphors break down at some point, so please do not interpret the "death and legacy level" to be about the plane -- it's about the death and legacy of the User Story!

The text below each level attempts to answer the question "When does this phase typically happen?"

As in all things Agile, there is no one size fits all solution, so you'd need to tailor this to your organization and your team. My contention is that most User Stories go through all of the phases/levels whether you consciously realize it or not. You can also download a PDF version that should print well in black and white also. A link to the older/previous version of the diagram is down below. Also, you can see a related presentation here.


PDF of the current version(should print well as a black and white):

This is a PDF of the previous version of the diagram:

Other great User Story Articles: