Epic stories

As history’s greatest orators have all known, we cannot help but be moved by stories. It is a truth that can help us in today’s fast-evolving project management landscape. Epic stories, or simply epics, are becoming integral to the agile approach – and can usefully be deployed in any large piece of work.

The core idea is simple: epics are narratives that encapsulate the big-picture vision of a project. They are more than a roadmap for achieving success: they build emotional attachment to the work at hand. There are five key elements.

First, strategic vision. Epics represent high-level strategic objectives, the cornerstones of agile projects. They give the big picture, so everyone understands the overarching goals. This helps prevent scope creep, keeps teams aligned and allows better decision-making.

Second, cross-functional collaboration. Agile places a premium on collaboration and epics often require input from various experts. By encouraging cross-functional working they help to break down silos and foster collaboration on complex challenges.

The next element is flexibility and adaptability. One of agile’s core tenets is adaptability to change, and epics can be adapted in response to evolving requirements, market shifts or customer feedback. This allows teams to stay responsive and aligned with the project’s purpose.

Then there’s customer-centricity. Epics are often framed with end users in mind. This helps agile teams create solutions that are functional and valuable to customers.

Finally, epics offer a way of measuring progress towards strategic objectives. Teams can break epics into smaller, manageable user stories and tasks, allowing them to track and communicate progress effectively.

In a rapidly changing business environment, epic stories offer a powerful framework for building engagement with complex projects. We all like to be involved in something epic. What’s your story?

Perry Timms is founder and chief energy officer of PTHR, a consultancy aiming to create better business for a better world. He is a TEDx speaker, top-selling author, and number one on HR Magazine’s 2022 Most Influential Thinkers list.