The Board Episode 38 — Impact Mapping

By Rebecca Jones

17 November 2014

Tags: ,

In Episode 38 of The Board, we talk about:

      • Impact Mapping
      • Prioritisation and relating business goals to users and deliverables

Learn more about impact mapping.

Full transcript

Kirstin: Hello. Welcome to The Board. After a few weeks break, we’re back. I’m Kirstin Donaldson and we’re joined by Jesse Stegmann, who recently made the change from developer to Agile Coach at Boost. He’s going to be another regular on the show. We also have a regular person Gavin Coughlan, on the corner there.

Today we’re going to be talking about impact mapping, which I know nothing about. These guys recently attended a workshop on it, so they’re going to tell me all that. I’ll probably bat in with some annoying questions.

Gavin: Went to a course last Friday about it. We thought it was really interesting. First of all, there’s no slides in the course which was fantastic. It was very interactive. You were basically doing stuff the entire day, which was really great and helped get the concepts across. There were lots of great examples.

It really hit home for us. We saw a lot of ways that we would be able to use it with some of our current projects and some of our current clients. We thought we’d just talk a little bit about it today.

Kirstin: I have two questions already. One question is, who gave the course?

Gavin: [inaudible 01:14] Visik.

Kirstin: Is that how that’s pronounced?

Gavin: I don’t know, but that’s how it’s spelled. Actually, he didn’t introduce himself because he said, “You all met me at the recent conference,” so anybody who wasn’t at the conference didn’t, I’ve never heard his name actually spoken. I’ve only seen it written down.

Kirstin: We’ll pop on his name on the links afterwards so you guys can YouTube him. My second question was, who can give me a one sentence definition of what impact mapping is?

Jesse: Sure.

Gavin: Actually, I remember during the thing, he asked for an elevator pitch.

Kirstin: That’s what I was going to say. Jesse, are you going to take that?

Jesse: I suppose his elevator pitch was, it’s a way to link your scope or deliverables to business goals.

Kirstin: That makes sense.

Jesse: In the most basic form.

Gavin: We found it was really good for a few things. One is just that, getting actual deliverables and, at the end of the day, user stories from your business goals. Also, if you already have a backlog, the impact mapping can go in both directions, which will make a bit more sense soon.

You can actually go from your backlog through to your goals, and back to your backlog. It really helps prioritize and cut out a lot of things. This was a term that was mentioned quite a lot during the day was, what should we do now and not now? Those two different things.

That’s quite a good one as well, because quite a lot of the time when we’re talking with clients and starting a project we’ll talk about what we can do in Release One, Release Two, or Release Three and people freak out a little bit because they think, “I don’t want to release it without X,Y and Z”.

Kirstin: Do you think that change in terminology will make people more comfortable?

Gavin: Yeah, I think so and sometimes we also do the Moscow thing like, “You must have, should have, could have, wouldn’t, or would have,” and people also freak out a bit because they don’t want to put anything in the “won’t have.”

Kirstin: They want to put it all in “must have” really.

Gavin: Yeah.

Kirstin: So, this is a more structured way of prioritizing rather than their gut feeling prioritizing?

Gavin: Yes.

Jesse: Yeah.

Gavin: It’s difficult to prioritize a list of stories and we just see a list, it doesn’t make a lot of sense as a list because that’s not how software is. You have to create a bit of a picture and story mapping is quite good for that in a lot of ways and I can see impact mapping tied into story mapping. You might start with impact mapping and just story map further down the line.

Jesse: The other thing that we talked about a lot was for business people it’s very hard for them to prioritize, “Should I build this interface or this interface first? Which one provides more value?” By using an impact map you can map it back to the business goals and they can prioritize, “Do I want this business goal first or this business goal first?” and that’s obviously a lot easier for them to understand.

Kirstin: It brings them into the process as well.

Jesse: Yeah, definitely.

Kirstin: Why have you got this white board here?

Jesse: We thought we’d run through impact mapping and the process for everyone watching. What I’ve got here is a basic impact map. You’ve got your business goals, the actors, so that is any user story normally as a customer or as an administrator.

Kirstin: That’s the person that’s going to use the system?

Jesse: Yeah. You can use personas or demographic information there. Then the impact, which is the behaviour that you’d like to change of the actor, so buy more, spend more time on the website, those kind of things and then lastly your deliverables.

That’s the actual functionality that you’re going to build and what your user stories will deliver in the end. Cool. What we looked at is, as Gavin mentioned before, you can go two ways with the impact map.

We’ll start with, if you’ve got an existing project and a set of existing deliverables, which I’m going to represent with lines. You’d imagine that this is your product backlog and use the stories. You want, Gav to draw, while I hold and explain?

Gavin: Yes.

Jesse: You’ve got your deliverables down the center, this is your user stories. We can then map those back to impacts, so what behavior changes we want these user stories to achieve. Two or three user stories might feed into a single impact. Then, from that impact, that obviously will be affecting an actor, so possibly we’ll say we’ve got a customer.

Is our actor for this? We’ll have an e-commerce site, and then from that we’ll hopefully have some business goals, which we can extrapolate out again, so we’re going to increase revenue or increase time spent on the site.

Gavin: Let’s write that there, can’t write sideways. It’s very difficult.

Jesse: Hopefully, what will happen is you will have a couple of business goals, so we can increase revenue…

Gavin: Because your engagement is a little opening here.

Jesse: …and increase customer engagement. Then, what you can do from this map is ask your product owner, or get them to go back to the business and talk to them about which is the priority? Are we looking to increase revenue or increase customer engagement?

Kirstin: I have a question.

Jesse: Sure.

Kirstin: When would you do this impact map [inaudible 07:14] , at the start of the project?

Gavin: If you’re doing it, I suppose from the…

Jesse: Deliverables.

Gavin: …right to the left, deliverables to the goals, and you could do them possibly mid-project. People are having problems prioritizing, and a lot of the time people come to you with the literal requirements already, so you could do it at the start of the project in that situation as well.

Kirstin: Essentially, whenever you need to, basically?

Gavin: Yes.

Jesse: Yes.

Kirstin: Could you make this part of backlog refining meeting if you were finding that prioritizing became a problem on a project?

Gavin: Yes, I think so. We have suggested this to somebody already, and we’re going to do a workshop with them.

Kirstin: Is this one of your projects?

Gavin: Yes. They are very much more than midway through their project. They’ve been working for years.

Kirstin: [inaudible 08:04]

Gavin: Yes. They really aren’t clear about the goals, so the team aren’t clear about what their…

Kirstin: Did you say are clear or aren’t?

Gavin: Aren’t, are not clear. They know exactly what they do. They know what they have to deliver, but they don’t know why or whether that links into goals. Possibly the goals aren’t very well defined as well, so I think it’s really going to help with that.

A, it’s going to help the business with prioritizing, and with coming up with those goals, because here for example, we have revenue and customer engagement that are two goals, but they’re not smart goals. They’re not specific [inaudible 08:39] .

Kirstin: No, because I was thinking when you wrote customer engagement, how do you measure that?

Gavin: It might be, for example, revenue you might say you want to see an increase of revenue 10 percent in the next six months.

Kirstin: That was very measurable.

Jesse: Yes.

Gavin: Yes, exactly. The customer engagement, one, you might say we want to see the amount of time a customer spends on the site increase by 12 percent over the next three months.

Kirstin: Inquiries by email?

Gavin: Yes.

Jesse: Yes. Reduce bounce.

Gavin: Add volume of calls at the call center, or however it is you want to actually measure that, so you do have to come up with some measurable goals that make sense.

Kirstin: This climate has identified a need. They are going to need to involve their stakeholders, so the management team, right?

Gavin: Yes.

Kirstin: What happens if the management team is not going to have time for this?

Gavin: I don’t think that’s going to be an issue because they’re all pretty committed. Interestingly, during the course, the [inaudible 09:41] , the guy that’s running it, Gogo, [laughs] was asked, “What do you do when you meet a lot of resistance about this?” He said, “I never have got any resistance, because usually I’m called in when people are in dire straits, and need to make a change.”

He’s never called in when everything’s brilliant.

Kirstin: It’s quite logical. It’s not like it’s sitting there with nothing to do, right?

Gavin: Yes.

Jesse: Yeah.

Kirstin: You know these are the answers they already have, it’s just a way of putting them out in a logical fashion.

Jesse: I suppose, if the person was in upper management were really resistant, those goals should be, you would hope fairly well defined for the business. We are talking about sort of a business road map type goal.

I suppose you could ask them, “What are the plans for the next year? Do we have any goals that we need to meet?” If they were really unwilling and you could get those base goals and make some assumptions, and go from there if it was really a problem.

Gavin: While we’re talking about this shall we try and make some fake examples?

Jesse: Sure.

Gavin: Lets say we are talking about a cinema and they want to increase the revenue and they want to increase there customer engagement as well. Lets say we were go from deliverables through to goals here or we should go the other way round?

Jesse: Let’s go from deliverable to goals, because I think that’s where most people will start with this.

Gavin: So, over here in the deliverables, they are just creating a new website and they want people to able to view movies, all the movies that are on. They want people to able to buy refreshments, obviously these are huge deliveries that needs to be broken down but that’s OK for the time being.

Kirstin: They’re epics.

Gavin: Yeah, they’re epics really. They want to able to choose seats.

Kirstin: Buy tickets.

Gavin: They want to be able to buy tickets. They might have a lots of other thing here, like contact details…

Kirstin: Location.

Gavin: …special offers.

Jesse: Loyalty program.

Gavin: Loyalty and locations. I think that’s enough for now. You might have somebody come to you with all these deliverables and they have everything that they want to put in their website and stuff to prioritize. To look at that list, it might be a little hard to decide what you really want to look at first, because it is just a list.

It’s the different ways of prioritizing which we have been through in the past so I won’t go too much into that, but let’s go on, let’s have a look at the behavior that we want these deliverables to actually change.

Jesse: Obviously if we look at increasing revenue we want people to buy more tickets?

Gavin: Yeah

Kirstin: Buying more tickets.

Gavin: Buying more tickets is a behavior change we want to have, whatever we’re going to put into the [inaudible 13:37] . We also want people to buy more food, because that’s where cinemas make most of their…

Kirstin: Or, in fact, have them buy it in advance so they can do more planning around things.

Gavin: Lets do that, I like that.

Kirstin: Because, that’s more specific.

Gavin: Yeah, and buy more is a little bit of an easy way out.

Jesse: Yeah.

Gavin: For now, for the sake of the example. So, we got two impacts, we’ve got a lot of people to be buying more tickets and a lot of people to be buy food in advance as well, which will hopefully shorten the queues and also make us sell more food, because we spend nothing on popcorn and sell it for vastly inflated amounts.

Woman: [laughs] Is that a bit of a bug bear here?

Gavin: No, he’s working the cinema.

Kirstin: Make your own and take it with you.

Gavin: He’s working the cinema and that’s where they make all their money, from popcorn.

Kirstin: All their money’s from popcorn?

Gavin: Yeah. Most cinemas keep the leftover popcorn from the end of the day in plastic bags and put it behind the counter, then serve it up the next morning. That’s going off point a little bit.

So, what next?

Jesse: Next we go on to the actors. A real thing to think about here is thinking a bit outside the box. So obviously, for our actors we’re going to have a movie goer. A generic customer, I suppose. Then we are also talking about buying food in advance helps with planning, so we are talking about the staff at the cinema and management.

Kirstin: These are people that are going to use those and benefit from it?

Jesse: Yes.

Gavin: Anybody who’s impacted by this.

Kirstin: Staff.

Jesse: Staff, management as well.

Kirstin: Yeah.

Jesse: That’s a good start.

Gavin: Yeah, and just for the sake of the exercise we’ll stick with movie goers but it’s good to break these down, and get more specific about your movie goers. That might be demographic, so geographic location then, in this case of a cinema, if you think about your movie goer you might try and think about your most viable movie goer.

Kirstin: It might be an age group.

Gavin: Or, a parent who’s bringing their family along.

Kirstin: Or, businesses [inaudible 16:12]

Gavin: Yeah or else there’s some lonely person who goes to the movies on their own every night. [laughs] That’s me, I had to go to see “Lucy” on my own last week, most enjoyable.

Jesse: I think that’s a really important point that Gavin makes, although we’ve got these four columns you can actually break things down and the further you break things down often the more value you get out of it.

You can have a goal, but then your actors could be split into movie goers. So, you’ve got teenagers, adults, families, could be a good split for movie goers. Then your impacts, buying more, if you go back to your teenagers, buying more tickets for, I don’t know, Disney films, and then families, the Disney films would make more sense.

Kirstin: For example, if there was feature Disney films.

Jesse: Yeah, and if you’ve split your movie goers and you’ve targeted teenagers, maybe one of your deliverables would be a [inaudible 17:14] . That’s mobile really, or an iPhone app, rather than a web site.

Kirstin: I was going to say, it’s not just teenagers that you get. It’s the commonest conviction for some reason.

Gavin: I don’t use them apps.

Kirstin: Anyway, what are the next steps? When do we get to do some links?

Gavin: We also have our goals which we went through before, and that’s to increase revenue and customer engagement. We have more here, because obviously these levels would map through to more impacts and more actors, but we are limited for time here.

Let’s say we went through that process and we have some of our goals, we go fantastic. We don’t want to list all. We want to prioritize our goals, what’s most important, these cannot be all equally important, what’s really most important to is?

Kirstin: Revenue.

Gavin: Increasing revenue or is it customer engagement?

Kirstin: It’s tricky, because customer engagement does increase revenue in itself really and greater customer engagement means greater word of mouth, so it really helps with marketing thing as well. I’m going to say customer engagement.

Gavin: Customer engagement. Great, so that is our priority. I am going to use this shutter and we’re going to take off, as you don’t have to take it off, but just make it pretty clear there, so we’ve completely gotten rid of revenue, we’re just left with the goal there which is customer engagement.

We go back through to the actors, so we have the actors that we came up with or the movie goer staff and the management.

Kirstin: Yeah, so now we have to decide which one relates to customer engagement.

Jesse: Yeah.

Kirstin: So, it’s movie goers.

Jesse: Yeah, so hopefully, as you’ve come back, you’ve linked up your goal, so you would know that movie goers are linked to customer engagement.

Kirstin: I think, the staff as well…

Jesse: Yeah, the staff definitely could.

Kirstin: …and management actually. I mean, anyone who does the content on the web site.

Jesse: Yep.

Gavin: Then, we are going to the impact, so we’ve got, let’s see, the impacts are revenue based.


Kirstin: What are they again?

Gavin: We had buying more tickets…

Jesse: …and buying more food in advance.

Gavin: Buying food in advance.

Kirstin: Yeah, but the goal of customer engagement, those impacts are still appropriate.

Gavin: Yeah, that’s true.

Kirstin: If a customer engaged the [inaudible 19:47] of making actions on the site and the main actions on the site is [inaudible 19:50] .

Gavin: Yes. Both these impacts apply to customer engagement really, is there anything to get rid of that?

Kirstin: Yeah, they are a measure of customer engagement.

Gavin: That brings us to our deliverables, so what deliverables? We got, the customer can view a list of movies on the website.

Kirstin: Are we trying to say these relate to that goal of customer engagement?

Jesse: Yes.

Gavin: Yeah.

Kirstin: I think, not directly the [inaudible 20:21] movies.

Jesse: So, that would now be a “not now”?

Kirstin: Yeah.

Gavin: Yeah, so “not now”.

Jesse: Buying food, it allows people to buy food in advance, which we’ve said is something we want to change, so obviously that’s a “now”.

Kirstin: Choose seats, I don’t know if that’s directly related to customer engagement, but buy tickets is.

Gavin: Yeah, but choose seats isn’t, I mean, you’re right, it isn’t directly related, they can still buy tickets.

Kirstin: If I was going to prioritize I’d want to buy tickets first and then later to chose seats. Contact, I think that is related to customer engagement. People will call or email via the contact.

Gavin: Yeah, special offers.

Kirstin: I think that’s a “not now” as well.

Gavin: That’s more revenue.

Kirstin: [inaudible 21:12] definitely, good for measuring customer engagement.

Gavin: Yeah, and location.

Kirstin: I think, that’s a pretty essential process, covering it’s movie, to be honest.

Jesse: But, if we’re going back to the customer engagement which is prioritized, you’d probably say it’s a “not”.

Gavin: [laughs]

Kirstin: I probably would say that, however, the customer engagement [inaudible 21:34] .

Jesse: They’re just taking a risk on them.

Kirstin: Right.

Gavin: We’re being a bit ruthless here. We’ve already left in the items that related through to customer engagement there.

Jesse: What we’ve managed to do by going back and prioritizing that business goal is we’ve cut our backlog which was about 10 or 11 items down to four.

Kirstin: So, in reality you’ve just rearranging the backlog, like [inaudible 21:56] those items as well.

Gavin: Yeah, exactly, like you throw in the matter and you prioritize it. Another way you can do this if you just have the upper management because you should have the very senior people there, that’s one thing that was discussed, you should have really senior people and it’s great to have the team there as well.

Kirstin: Particularly talking about business goals because that’s what they bring to the project.

Gavin: But, you don’t need to go all the way to deliverables if you’ve got the full management team there. You might just go to the impacts that they actually want people to change and then deliverables will be something that the product owner or the team would flesh out a little bit from the impacts.

Jesse: That’s where story mapping can be really useful is used and linked with in with your impact mapping. Once you get to your impact, then you could do a story map to find out what those deliverables could be.

Kirstin: I mean, this is a really fast way of prioritizing as well. We’ve done that in 20 minutes, and some of this could be a first sprint, if that’s what it takes.

Gavin: Yeah, absolutely.

Kirstin: We really tend to write stories these and get going.

Jesse: Yeah, the other thing to sort of emphasize is trying to get that measurement all the way through, so, making sure that buying more tickets, what does that actually mean? Is that we need to see people?

They need to buy 20 percent more tickets or we need to sell more tickets to specific session? Having those measurements in place so that you actually have a clear idea of what you’re trying to change is really important.

Kirstin: You can actually experiment it with this mission as well, so, say one spread you do something and then the next spread you try something else to see if you can bring that up to measurement that you fit.

Jesse: Yeah, absolutely, so there is a lot of crossover here with lien as well and trying to do small experiments. We talked a lot on the course about setting up small experiments, so breaking this down even further, maybe you make a website specifically for one single location for your most important cinema and just try it out with those customers first to see if you could make a change.

Again, talking about something that’s completely hand made and manual, rather than automating anything to start with.

Gavin: The statistics that are out there say that people only use 20 percent of the features for the software. So, this really helps you to make sure that you’re building that 20 percent, rather than just trying to get everything done in one foul swoop.

One thing I really liked about this is that people often talk about the deliverables and they talk about the goals, but this middle conversation is missed out quite a lot and that’s the point of this whole thing, it is that conversation that actually promotes.

In a lot of the stuff, you can throw away the information here. It’s a conversation that results you really want to focus on.

Kirstin: Really focus people and also to confirm that what you’re building is of value.

Gavin: Yeah, is it going to change the behavior? If it’s not changing the behavior, why are you doing it? One interesting thing that we came up with was a lot of the solutions, the deliverables that we came up with to reach a lot of these goals weren’t actually software based.

Kirstin: So for example, about our contents.

Gavin: Or, even just marketing, for example somebody was saying they got an email through from, I cannot remember what bit of software, might have been Spotifyer and we say thank you for being our customers, just an email and then, basically help to increase our customer royalty.

Kirstin: Customer engagement, yeah.

Gavin: iTunes just give away a free U2 album yesterday, which might help to increase customer loyalty for iTunes users or else might them drive them away.

Kirstin: It could, I hear it wasn’t that great.

Gavin: That’s exactly what you’d expect a U2 album to sound like these days.

Kirstin: Revenue.

Gavin: That’s a very quick description of impact mapping.

Kirstin: Which is good, because I think actually that’s all we’ve got time for today. Thanks guys, I’m glad you got some value out of that course and were able to share it.

Gavin: Yeah, we’re going be using it in the real world pretty soon.

Kirstin: Real world.

Gavin: We can talk about that at some late stage briefly, just talk about how that actually went because we’re going to be help refine, because we’re new to this ourselves, so we’re going to help, we’re going to refine that for our process here.

Kirstin: Absolutely, thanks for joining us and we’ll see you in two weeks.

Learn more

Read about what we learnt at Gojko Adzic’s Impact Mapping workshop.

Get tools to measure and improve how well you prioritise so you can reduce software development risk with Agile prioritisation.

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