Impact Mapping Workshop: Deliver Business Outcomes, Don't Just Ship Software

Our roadmaps and backlogs are usually littered with pet projects, squeaky wheels, and recent ad hoc items that gain priority simply because they are the latest shot across our bow. Impact mapping is a powerful practice that helps us identify and align our work to the most valuable business goals and mission objectives and avoid many of the common challenges that arise from an unfocused set of work priorities.

Impact maps help us visualize quantifiable benefits that deliverables should produce towards our business objectives. They allow us to focus our work on those deliverables that move the needle the most, not just deliver features. The practice is a great way to communicate assumptions, create plans, and align stakeholders as well as aid in strategic planning, roadmap management, and defining measures of success and quality.

This workshop will provide an appreciation for the power of impact mapping by walking you through building your own impact maps and the facilitation process for doing so in your own organization. You will leave the workshop having participated in a tangible example of the technique, and having gained an understanding of best-practices for facilitation with a focus on an impact map’s outputs and how they lead into the creation of actionable user stories when completed. Hands-on collaboration with your fellow attendees will help encourage your own application of this technique in your real world road-mapping and backlog refinement activities.

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Outline/structure of the Session

  • Intro (4 min)
    • What is impact mapping 
    • Elements of an impact map
  • Audience-driven example (8 min)
    • Provide simple example
    • Create user stories from example 
    • Discuss importance of high-quality goals
    • Solicit additional examples from group
    • Group creates user stories from examples
  • Impact mapping in the big picture (3 min)
  • Workshop (25 min)
    • Work in groups of up to 8 people (utilize chart paper + markers at tables)
    • Extend impact map from existing examples 
    • Create user stories from outputs 
    • (Presenters will float between groups to facilitate) 
  • Debrief + Questions (5 min)
    • Share user stories created in groups
    • How might you experiment with this practice within your organization?


Notes about the evolution of this workshop:

Throughout several iterations of this workshop, the format and our approach have evolved significantly to accommodate feedback we've received from participants. These changes have allowed us to facilitate this workshop in a 45-minute timebox, keeping focus on the learning objectives that matter the most, and maximizing the experiential learning aspects that the workshop was designed to deliver.

  • Changed the hands-on creation of a sample impact map from an individual exercise into a group activity involving a group of 5-8 people sitting together at a table; this approach better represents the interactions and conversations which occur in a "real" impact mapping session.
  • Experimented with our explanation of the elements of an impact map. Most significantly, we changed the order in which the "who, "how", and "what" aspects are explained in recognition of feedback from individuals regarding confusion over the "how" portion, and how it fits into the impact mapping skeleton.
  • Provided an example goal to the participants to work with. In earlier versions of the workshop, we asked the audience to create their own goals in a brief goal discovery session; we realized this took too much time and did not add much benefit to the learning experience, so we now simply note that a high-quality goal is a prerequisite to impact mapping’s success, and its creation is likely its own separate activity.
  • Provided an example goal which is not IT-related. We witnessed that IT-related goals, given the short period of time allotted for the activity, tended to cause some teams to get hung up on technical details during the impact mapping activity. A non-IT-related goal removes that tendency and keeps our discussion focused on the process instead of delving into implementation details.
  • Cut down the speaker presentation portion significantly and included interaction with the participants starting as early as minute 10, which has encouraged engagement and allowed us to check for understanding early in the process.
  • Eliminated our previous step-by-step (and potentially interruptive) guidance during the activity, allowing groups to approach the process via any method they prefer, and affording members of the groups opportunities to facilitate at their own tables.

Learning Outcome

  • Understand what Impact Maps are, how to create and implement them, and why they are valuable
  • Experience Impact Mapping firsthand in order to be able to participate or potentially facilitate this practice
  • Examine the actors, impacts, and deliverables that will make the greatest impact towards your top business goal(s)
  • Learn how to prioritize your roadmap and create user stories based on your impact map

Target Audience

coaches/scrum masters, product owners/managers, business leaders + decision-makers



schedule Submitted 3 weeks ago

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