Agile methods are a great way for a team to know how to do what it needs to do. But they don’t have much to say about how to decide, among your many possibilities, what should be done. This is where Impact Mapping comes in.
Impact Mapping is a light-weight, collaborative, planning tool whose focus is on connecting the dots between the features (stories) that we might build for our product and why our business needs those features, i.e. how they can have an impact on driving business goals. Further, because impact mapping involves the wider team it helps us to incorporate all of our knowledge into deciding what to do.
By prioritising our goals and our assumptions about different impacts effectiveness we can “prune” the decision tree to focus on those things which are most likely to have a payoff. And, over time and as we learn how our business works best, we can shift those impacts around to re-orient what we work on.
The point is, at all times, we spend our resources on our best hypothesis for success. And that’s important when resources like time, money, focus, and good-will can be in very short supply.
I believe Impact Mapping, done well, has the power to transform the way that we build software and it should definitely be part of your toolkit as well.