I’m reviewing Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin’s forthcoming book on Agile Testing and ran across the title line in the middle of the text. I answered immediately, drawing the unwelcome attention of all here in the Borders Coffee Shop:
SHORTEN THE ITERATION!!!
No, really. If this is happening, your iteration is surely at least a couple of weeks long, maybe a month. Odds are your stories are too big anyway. Size down the iteration and size down the stories to match.
You’ll be glad you did.
Track the Impact
OK, I suppose it’s possible that you could get your iteration size down to a week and story changes would still come up. The fact that I’ve never seen it happen doesn’t mean that it couldn’t.
A certain amount of story changing may be due to the Product Owner or Customer not thinking quite hard enough about what to ask for. (This is only true if your iterations are short, by the way. If they aren’t, that’s the problem, see the first item here.)
Changing one’s mind about the story costs time, and time, we are told, is money. So, if this happens frequently, consider making a big visible chart of lost time. To be fair, track other forms of lost time, not just this one. It might turn out that this isn’t your biggest problem.
Mainly, though: shorten your iteration. You’ll be glad you did.