I’m close to sell impact mapping as the new way to plan our projects, at least software projects. In order to get here, and here is having the go for a prototype project, I basically showed four slides in three different meetings one hour long each for different audiences. Attached the open sourced version 😉 intro-impact-mapping
The first one was to put impact mapping in context, so it would be easier to get an idea of what is it about. As a planning technique, it delivers a plan to be refined and executed, so I showed it close to the approach to define the (software) pieces to be built [Specification by Example] and the framework to be used to monitor work execution [Scrum] connected by arrows to denote repetition as for many iterations. Here I pointed out a couple of times the fact that this is a planning technique and this gets you an adaptive plan. Planing, grooming and executing is the whole process.
The second one was actually about Impact Mapping. Here’s where we spent most of the time and I focused on the accomplishment of targets instead of delivering a shopping list. The slide had only the map with a big red bull’s eye on it, but, having also the shopping list and mapping some of these items to the helps which help you reach the goal would have been of much help. I did this in the white-board and explained why a list with ten items would become an eight item list in the map and the possibility that after building six we could have finished the project and would be ready to move to the next.
Anyway, nothing was of more help than an example inside the domain: Let’s say our goal was to reduce the rate of people not paying taxes from 40% to 30% during next year (2013, we were in December 2012). How do you know a tax advisor having on-line access to someone’s payments log is related to the target? You don’t know because you are not sure what’s the activity it’s going to be performed with this on-line access, so you need this map to make sure the tools you are building are to help people in their activities towards the goal. Once you have the map you don’t know for sure this works, you’ve got to build it and use it. So, you’re learning by trial and error in small chunks and you get to identify which activities DO contribute for the goal so you focus your building efforts into tools for those activities which proved to be useful and not for every one of them, which once again you don’t know what they are.
The third was to introduce Specification by Example and the fourth an Scrum overview.