Can we use impact mapping to define a training strategy?


It was a cold December morning in Dublin, I was shivering and wet getting back to my desk after a cigarette break, when I asked myself, “can you use impact mapping to define a training strategy?” No idea I thought. There is only one way to find out…

This was my first attempt to use Impact Mapping, and I had been dying to try it out since I first heard about it at Agile Testing Days in Potsdam less than a month ago, let me tell you how it went.

I had previously scheduled a meeting with a colleague to decide our strategy to coach our development teams to use Acceptance Test Driven Development. The meeting was in the afternoon, I thought, let’s use this to try it out.

Here we are, me at the whiteboard my colleague sitting in front of me.

First question “Why” do we need to coach the teams on ATDD? This helped us identify the real business value we were chasing, in our case after a few tries and some close calls ended up being “Zero bugs detected in UAT”. Once we identified this, it opened the discussion on how to quantify the money value of the business value. This was an extremely interesting exercise and the discussion provided us with a clear view on how this will make the company money and how to address management questions on this specific topic, pretty neat!

We got the biggest value when we asked ourselves what behaviours we needed to change in our customers to achieve success. This first of all sparked discussion on who our customers were and we expanded our thinking about the development teams as a whole to looking at the different individuals, different roles and levels and we also included management in the mix. This in turn sparked a lot of discussion on what category we needed to influence first.

We asked ourselves “who can help us achieve this and who can hinder us?”. This was a penny dropping moment as we quickly came to the conclusion that our customers for the first delivery were not all the development teams but some key influencers as their behaviour change would influence other people’s behaviour as a consequence. This cut quite a lot of the ground work considering we have 7 development teams to coach. By thinking about who could have hindered us we also thought about some specific approaches to influencing this group of people.

Now we had a business goal with a money value associated and we had identified the customers and the behavioural change. It was time to test a few options. This was quite a straight forward operation and came really natural to us to assess our first deliverable was going to be a Workshop for the influential people we had selected.

The map drawn on the whiteboard wasn’t anything artistic to be honest but here you go.

ImageTraining strategy impact map

(In case you’re wondering the sinking boat was our visualization of the impact of lack of team ownership :-))

Always focusing on the behaviour we needed changing we managed to get into more of the details and the content of the Workshop and in less than an hour we ended up with:

Clear understanding of our business goal, its value and how to measure success (0 bugs in UAT)

Clear view of what the max value min effort first deliverable was going to be (workshop to key influencers)

Clear view of who our customers were and how to approach them (influencers, hinderers + development teams)

A high level plan of the content of the workshop to be delivered

This was one of the most energizing and productive meetings I have had in a long time, we came out of that room with clear plans and a nice feeling we are going to succeed.

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