Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

Practical advice for making agile work in the real world

The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Overcast Listen on Pocket Casts Listen on Spotify Download RSS

#26: How Getting to Small Helps Teams Get Things Done with Lance Dacy

November 30, 2022     35 minutes

Lance Dacy joins Brian to discuss breaking down stories to get things done.


There are ways to break stories down into two- or three days worth of work across the team. But sometimes, they can be taken down to a level that devalues what your team is trying to deliver.

Lance Dacy is a Certified Scrum Trainer® with the Scrum Alliance®

Today on the show, Lance joins Brian to discuss some of the questions you need to ask when breaking stories down. We discuss how to organize teams for the best outcome and share different systems and processes to determine how far is enough when breaking down stories to help your team deliver a usable product to the end user.

Listen now to discover:

[01:37] - Brian introduces us to Lance Dacy, his guest and neighbor.
[02:29] - Brian shares how you can suggest a topic for a future podcast episode by emailing your suggestion to
[02:57] - Today, we're talking about getting work into its smallest component.
[03:21] - Lance shares the four things teams need to do to be sure they are all speaking the same language when transitioning to Scrum.
[03:44] - The make-or-break consequences of organizing teams for the best outcomes.
[05:49] - Lance shares his insight on breaking things down into tasks in the product backlog.
[07:47] - Lance uses a car cleaning analogy to break down the story into smaller tasks.
[09:40] - In backlog refinement, we will start rounding out those acceptance criteria or conditions of satisfaction and make them their own story.
[10:58] - Lance shares his system for determining how far is 'enough' when breaking down stories to be ready.
[12:33] - The goal for each sprint planning session.
[13:09] - Using the INVEST criteria to assess the quality of a user story.
[13:48] - How small is too small?
[15:17] - I love metrics, BUT metrics CAN BE misused.
[15:55] - The key to not being surprised.
[16:37] - Brian shares the importance of the V in the INVEST criteria.
[18:14] - Vertically slicing stories to deliver something usable to the end user (the product owner).
[21:42] - Using the SPIDR approach to splitting stories.
[22:24] - Asking the right questions to create paths that lead to stories that turn into relevant products.
[25:55] - The importance of interfaces when splitting up stories.
[28:22] - The pros and cons of spikes—why they should be the exception and NOT the rule.
[32:01] - Lance circles back to the consequences of creating your teams—focusing on the deliverables.
[33:37] - Remember, releasing the product is independent of your sprint time box.

Listen next time when we'll be discussing…

Transformational Leadership with Tricia Broderick

References and resources mentioned in the show

What does INVEST Stand For?
The S.P.I.D.R. Approach to Splitting Stories
HOW TO SPLIT A USER STORY by Richard Lawrence
Mountain Goat Software
Agile Mentors Community
Scrum Alliance
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Want to get involved?

This show is designed for you, and we'd love your input.

  • Enjoyed what you heard today? Please leave a rating and a review. It really helps, and we read every single one.
  • Got an agile subject you'd like us to discuss or a question that needs an answer? Please share your thoughts with us at

This episode's presenters are:

Brian Milner is SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Lance Dacy, known as Big Agile, is a dynamic, experienced management and technical professional with the proven ability to energize teams, plan with vision, and establish results in a fast-paced, customer-focused environment. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer® with the Scrum Alliance and has trained and coached many successful Scrum implementations from Fortune 20 companies to small start-ups since 2011.