Category Archives: Lean Startup

Make an impact!

Do you want to know how your work fits in the big picture? Do you want to know how your efforts contribute to make the place you work at successful? Do you want to avoid doing stuff without real business value? If yes, then Impact mapping might be something for you and your team!

Impact mapping is a light weight conversation tool created by Gojko Adzic that is used to connect deliverables to business goals. In his workshop that I attended, he used the underpants stealing gnomes from South Park to illustrate where impact mapping fits.

When the gnomes are asked why they are collecting underpants they say that “Collecting underpants is Phase 1”. As soon as the kids ask them about phase 2 the gnomes answer that phase 3 is profit. They haven’t really figured out how to turn their mountain of underwear into money. The gnomes business case described with gifs


Impact mapping is used to connect Phase 3 (A goal) with Phase 1 (a deliverable) with the help of a phase 2 containing actors and their behaviors.

To create an impact map we are asking ourselves four questions. Why? Who? How? and What? The result will be visualized with a mind map.

Why are we doing this? We state a business goal that shall be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

What actors can help us to achieve the goal?

How shall our actor’s behavior change so that we can achieve our business goals? The actor’s behavior changes when they are starting and stopping doing things, when they do more of some things and less of some other things. The behavior also changes when actors for instance do things faster or slower etc. etc. etc.

What shall we as an organization or delivery team do to support the necessary impacts? What deliverables shall we produce?

A simple example
Let’s say that we are working for the Swedish Transport Administration. Our goal is that zero persons shall be killed or severely injured in traffic each year. We are going to make an impact map that shall help us to figure out how to achieve this modest goal. I gather a team with people that can help us to answer the questions. Then we are having a conversation in order to create the map.

I have used the tool Mindmup to draw the impact map.


Zero persons shall be killed or severely injured in traffic each year.

The actors we have identified to help us reach our goal is Pedestrians and Drivers.

Drivers are changing their behavior by start obeying the speed limits.

Pedestrians are changing their behavior by start wearing reflectors, stops jaywalking and crosses roads faster.

What can we do as an organization to support the change of behaviors? Using speed cameras that measure the average speed should really help the drivers to slow down.

Every time we deliver something we shall evaluate if the actors behavior is changed and how much. For instance if the ad campaign for wearing reflectors is enough for changing the behavior so that pedestrians always wears reflectors when it is dark, then we don’t have to give away free reflectors and write a theme song. That will save us a lot money! Creating deliverables that is not needed is the number one source of waste!

Impact mapping can also be used to reverse engineer long wish lists. Then we start from the other direction and connect what to how to who to why. Features that doesn’t support change to a new desired behavior and connects to a goal shall be thrown away.

Impact maps can be translated to user stories. “In order to start wearing reflectors, as a pedestrian I want free reflectors” “In order to cross the road faster, as a pedestrian I want to go to a fitness camp!” (Ok all stories from the map doesn’t sound really good but that is due to my crappy example, you see the point right? 🙂 )

If you are doing hypothesis driven development then the impact map could be used to specify the assumptions you will validate or falsify with your experiments.

Some reading

The source:

Great book that among other things shows impact mapping in a Lean Startup context.


Do the right thing

I have been a fan of Lean Startup ever since I read the book with the same name for the first time. Working with hypothesis in really short iterations fueled by lean principles in order to gain validated learning. Replacing big investments with small experiments is what it is all about. Theory is one thing though, implementing it in an organization is something else. Luckily I had the possibility together with my team mates in team Kafka and our friends in team Firefly at Tieto to attend the Crisp course Lean Team. We (Product owners, developers and support consultants) left this course with new knowledge, insights and tools that will help us to not only do things right, but even more important do the right things.

The course kicked off with a case study on how a system for handling examinations at Stockholm University was implemented. The major learning here was that until validated we should consider everything in the backlog as speculations. Short iterations and frequent releases that was tested on real users created knowledge that could never have been anticipated in advance.

Courses held by Crisp are often (or always?) using the Training from the back of the room strategy. Making the learners driving the learning by participating in a lot activating and inspirational exercises. This creates a course that is pure fun and making the new knowledge stick. The first exercise we did was a Lego game showing the importance of team members having T-shaped skills in order to deliver great results.

Next up was one of my biggest takeaways from the course. Learning about Impact mapping. This is a lightweight tool for describing the connection between business goals and features and how we want to change user behavior in order to reach the goals. Other benefits is that you get a road map nicely visualized. This is how I hope we can handle the backlog in the future. Ordering the Impact Mapping book by Gojko Adzic to learn more is now on my to-do list.

We learned a lot of techniques for gaining more knowledge with just a small investment of time.

Creating Proto-personas.
We are creating personas to be able to see things from a customer-centric point of view.

Story boarding.
We describe problems and solutions by drawing story boards

Hypothesis creation
Why we believe in an idea and how we can validate it.

Design studio.
A workshop for collaborative idea generation.

Created an MVP by doing a prototype.
An MVP is the smallest thing we can do to validate an idea.

How to plan and execute validation of ideas on real people.

For every step we did we used an experimentation kata to validate the work. It is a generic technique that can be applied in almost all situations.

I really enjoyed this class and learned a lot of things that we can implement in our daily work. Taking the class together with the whole team made it even better. Getting advice and feedback from experts and hearing examples from their work life made it a great time.

I recommend everyone that has the possibility to take this class to do it! Bring the whole team!

A big thank you to everyone making our participation possible and to everyone attending for making the class great!