The Three C's



Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Backlog Items





The Three Cs – “Card, Conversation, Confirmation” – is one method of writing and formatting Product Backlog items.

This formula by Ron Jeffries [1] captures the components of a well-formed Product Backlog item or User Story.


A “Card” (or often a Post-It note): a physical token giving tangible and durable form to what would otherwise only be an abstraction.

If the Product Backlog item fits on a single index card then it can probably reach Done by the end of a single Sprint. 


A “conversation” taking place at different time and places during a project between the various people concerned by a given feature of a software product: customers, users, developers, testers; this conversation is largely verbal but most often supplemented by documentation.

The conversation addresses questions like:

  • What is needed?
  • Why is it valued?
  • Who is it valuable for?
  • When is it needed?
  • How will we deliver the work to the Definition of Done?
  • How big is the work and will it fit in a Sprint in its current state (or do we need to slice it into smaller pieces so it does fit in the Sprint)?


The “confirmation”: consensus by the team that the objectives and the scope of the User Story is understood.

  • The team will organise the work step by step sequentially one after another from beginning to end.
  • Each Product Backlog item will likely have some acceptance criteria
  • If the Product Backlog item meets all those criteria the team will not need to do any further work on it.


1. 2001: the Card, Conversation, Confirmation model was proposed by Ron Jeffries to distinguish “social” User Stories from “documentary” requirements practices such as Use Cases.

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