The Magic of "Black Stories"
Why are Black Stories so unique? — What makes them so useful in Agile Product Development environment? ((I take IT- and non-IT-related product development synonymously.))
The reason is obvious and you can validate it by a simple experiment when playing Black Stories next time: For one Black Story take notes about the suggestions and questions throws on the table.
When solving a creepy riddle the players come up with solution proposals from several different perspectives. The suggestions made necessarily are not related to each other nor a logical consequence. Merely, the players follow an indirect and creative approach. They throw ideas on the table that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. They jump from one option to a totally different by random — only guided by the more or less illustrative or cryptic hints of the narrator.
Edward de Bono coined this kind of problem-solving lateral thinking. For de Bono lateral thinking is "addressing the problem always from different perspectives." The most prominent lateral thinking technique is de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats".
Black Stories Vivify Your Meetings and Product Development
Although I knew Black Stories — I have to admit, I didn't see its nexus to Agile or product development. Not at all... not until... Jordann Gross, hosted in Feb 2016 an Open Space session at Play4Agile16 unconference. where he showed us how "Black Stories" can be used in agile retrospectives and Scrum ceremonies.
You can use Black Stories in your team meetings and daily stand-ups:
...to spark creativity, to make people think out of the box, to nudge lateral thinking, learn people to ask the right questions, and, and, and...
to help team members or meeting attendees to get out of their previous context easily.
You can use Black Stories as energizers in the opening of your meetings or in between to shake the people awake.
Here a slide deck of Agile Black Stories I presented at Tools4AgileTeam2016