User experience professionals devote our careers to the end user. We interview them, we survey them, invite them to participate in formal in-lab usability studies, informal guerrilla testing in the wild, and the occasional focus groups. We design wireframes and prototypes. We pride ourselves on our expert domain knowledge of the “users.” We craft in-depth personas based on the qualitative and quantitative data we collect. Our eyes gleam with pride when people begin using our artifacts in their daily lives. But what happens when we stop looking at “users” as only those individuals who use our products as the “end user” and begin to redefine and expand the role of the user?

This case-study chronicles my experience with a scrum team, calling on the skills above to influence and help lead a scrum team to success. I participated in all of their ceremonies: daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives. Through this immersion, I was able to identify their user needs. They needed a leader. There was a communication disconnect between the team and their internal stakeholders. And they needed help with the backlog.

I will share how we were able to develop new communication strategies to bridge the gap with stakeholders, giving the developers clearer understanding of what the stakeholders’ needs were. We were also able to develop new methodologies using Jeffrey Davidson’s story writing technique to better understand the scope of our backlogs. The result? The developers were able to become a high-functioning empowered team who was able to complete their work and meet their goals!

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