Challenge the way you work. New techniques to try on (I)

Challenge the way you work. Stay happy & productive! 

My colleagues, advising or coaching teams to be happy and productive, listen and learn constantly about the challenges they have during the day-to-day activity.

In the next series of articles, we share with you practical solutions to common challenges encountered when developing software products, as well as new techniques to help you and your team to make steps for improvement.

In this blog post, we focus on Product Owner, Product Manager, Business Analyst roles. In the next ones, you  will find  new techniques and practices to overcome the day-to-day challenges for the Scrum Master, Developer|Software  crafter, Manager roles and how to improve collaboration in your team(s).

Running a mile in your shoes

Besides hands-on coaching, my colleagues are part of the product development division of Mozaic Works, MozaicLabs. Being practitioners themselves, they have a deep understanding and a broad view regarding each role and the need for constant improvement.

From practical knowledge and insights from our customers, a series of challenges come into view:

  • the struggle to make sense out of the (sometimes chaotic) world surrounding your products and features
  • have the team members anchored in the product vision
  • the team quickly gain the same understanding of the current situation and what will be next

Given these issues, each practitioner can experiment new techniques that will improve and add more value to their work.  Among them, impact mapping and story mapping can be used to create consistency, rigor and prioritization.

If you are also experimenting with different techniques & practices to challenge the way you work, let us know in a comment below.

Impact Mapping

Being a lightweight method to collaboratively plan a strategy for a product, an Impact map gives a better understanding to the connection between the features and the business goals.

Impact mapping helps you to:

  • clarify product goals and visually present: Why? Who? How? What? for any new release or feature
  • have a structured way to discuss the scope & assumptions with the team
  • easily communicate product roadmaps to everyone in and around the tea

“If a product milestone or project succeeds in delivering the expected business goal, it is a success from a business perspective, even if the delivered scope ends up being different from what was originally envisaged. On the other hand, if it delivers exactly the requested scope but misses the business goal, it is a failure.” Gojko Adzic, author Impact Mapping:  Making a big impact with software products and projects

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.20.03 PMImpact mapping example from a MozaicLabs product:

Story mapping

The story mapping is used for release planning and to preserve the context of stories. Jeff Patton is the author who coined the term and proposed a two dimensional backlog called a story map, as a way to better tackle the user stories.

The story map helps you to:

  • define the features in terms of user scenarios rather than disconnected user stories
  • preserve the context of a story over the whole development cycle
  • easily define product increments that make sense to business and end users
  • clearly communicate the status of the product development

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.06.17 PMPersona Story Map example from a MozaicLabs product 

“It all seems important. But then we step back and think about the specific people who will use our product, and what they’ll need to accomplish to be successful. We distill that into a sentence or two. Then we carve away everything we don’t need, and we’re shocked at how small our viable solution really is. It’s magic” Jeff Patton

There is no one-size-fits-all technique to improve the day-to-day work. With a healthy mix of experimentation, advice from practitioners, and finding the right tools, each challenge can be bridled.

You can practice Impact mapping and Story mapping techniques also by attending workshops:

Additionally, you might want to acquire new skills or improve your current approach by attending one of the following:

Let us know what other challenges you encountered. We’ll be glad for you to find practical solutions to your needs in the following communications. Stay happy and productive!

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