The first task in implementing any story is to create a set of automated system-level tests that clarify the scope of the story. These tests are used to confirm the story has been implemented as expected. These tests remove ambiguity by creating executable tests capturing examples of how business rules should fire.
In 2002, Ward Cunningham published the Fit framework  this provides a way for business users to write story tests using desktop tools such as MS Word and Excel. When using a test framework like Fit, tests are typically worked on by a customer-developer pair, fleshing out scenarios to be implemented as part of the story.
The great thing about these tests is that non-technical people can read them and so become living documents that specify the system behaviour and also check that the system continues to support the full suite of stories developed to date. In agile software development it is these customer level story tests that form the requirements repository.
The software industry has been stuck in an illusion that dry language is less ambiguous and that facts can be isolated from the context and the needs of the business driving the development of a software system. Requirements can be documented in an ivory tower of analysis before engaging with technical labourers who will be building the monumental system. Agile teams have learned that limited abstract ideas ought not to be frozen at the start of software development but need to be refined and explored within an iterative development process.
In agile software development, the sharing of stories binds the team together, as the storyteller offers up their ideas they are woven into the system. People show their interest by asking questions and sharing insights. Suddenly, everyone starts to feel like an equal partner in a project that they are engaged in together. Traditional barriers between departments fall away and people feel energised to make the possibilities discussed a reality.
1. Agile Manifesto http://www.agilemanifesto.org
2. "Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate" by Michael Schrage Harvard Business School Press (1999) ISBN: 0875848141
3. "Agile and Iterative Development" by Craig Larman - Addison Wesley (2003) ISBN: 0131111558
4. "Extreme Programming Explained" 2nd edition by Kent Beck, Cynthia Andres - Addison Wesley (2004) ISBN: 0321278658
5. "Essential XP: Card, Conversation, Confirmation" by Ron Jeffries [http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/expCardConversationConfirmation.htm
6. "The Myth of the Paperless Office" by A.Sellen, R.Harper - The MIT Press (2003) ISBN: 026269283X
7. "Fit for Developing Software" by Rick Mugdrige, Ward Cunningham - Prentice Hall (2004) ISBN: 0321269349
Originally published in the Fall 2005 issue of Methods & Tools