Impact mapping at the first Lean Agile Dundee

Group of people having meeting using laptops
Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

Last night I attended the first ever Lean Agile Dundee meetup at the offices of SolarWinds MSP, there were six of us—four Solarwinds employees, another chap and me.

Having attended a few Lean Agile Edinburgh events (the next one being next week at the Skyscanner offices), I was excited to learn there was a similar event starting in Dundee which is significantly closer for me.

Welcome

The welcome was warm and enthusiastic, the platters of food were plenteous and as I sat keenly at the front I chatted with the guy next to me.

“What do you do?” I said, feeling like a member of the royal family for asking that.

“I’m just a software engineer here at SolarWinds.”

“There is no just in software engineer,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said with a smile. “You’ve passed my test.”

A short conversation later I learned that he was also a fellow St Andrews alumnus and we talked about people we knew in common from the School of Computer Science.

Impact mapping

The main (and only) speaker was Santiago Lizardo Oscares, a software engineering manager also at SolarWinds. He spoke about his experience of using impact mapping—a simple planning technique that communicates assumptions.

I’ve used impact mapping a couple of times, mostly when deprecating services so we could clearly see which audiences would be impacted and for making decisions about what to do to facilitate the transition. But it can equally be used when introducing new services.

At its simplest, an impact map comprises four columns, or four levels of a mind map:

  1. Goal (Why?)—Why are we doing this? This is the goal we are trying to achieve. It can help to make this SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, time-based).
  2. Actors (Who?)—Which stakeholders will be positively or negatively impacted? Who are the users? Who can produce the desired effect and who can obstruct it?
  3. Impact (How?)—How will these stakeholders be affected? How should their behaviour change? How can they help us achieve the goal, or prevent us from succeeding?
  4. Deliverable (What?)—What can we do as a delivery team or organisation to support the required impacts? These are the deliverables, the software features, the organisational activities. These can be anything from epics, through user stories to simple tasks.

Much like user stories, the real value here is in the conversations that it encourages within the software development team. As well as reading the diagram from left-to-right, it can also be helpful for developers to read it from right-to-left to trace back from a feature they are developing to understand why they are developing it.

Impact mapping can be a useful tool for writing user stories:

  • As an Actor (Who?)
  • I want Deliverable (What?)
  • So that Impact (How?)

Example

After his presentation, Santiago ran through a practical example with us.

The goal we were presented with was to double the attendance of the next Lean Agile Dundee (probably in three months’ time) from 6 to 12.

We identified the actors as the organisers, previous attendees, and other Lean Agile groups, and then set about looking at how these actors could help achieve the goal—move from EventBrite to Meetup.com, provide incentives, share on social media, word of mouth, etc.

It was a useful example, I’m just sorry that Santiago stopped the exercise after completing just the organiser branch. It would have been helpful to have at least completed the map in full as a first pass, not least because we attendees could have taken away some practical ideas of how to help grow the event.

Conclusion

The evening was over within the hour, but wasn’t that entirely in keeping with Lean Agile. I really enjoyed the evening—meeting new people, discussing useful tools and how to improve communication and processes. I’ll definitely be back and may even offer to give a talk.

If you are interesting in Lean, Agile, Scrum, DSDM, XP, Kanban and live in Fife, Dundee or nearby definitely keep a look out for the next meeting. Check Eventbrite and Meetup for details. I’ll also try to remember to post the next date here.

Find out more

You can find out more about impact mapping in the book Impact Mapping by Gojko Adzic.

Why I decided to SHARE my blood for medical research

The word share surrounding by multi-coloured speech bubbles

Although I attend clinics at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on a regular basis, on account of my having inherited autosomal dominant polycystic kidney (ADPKD) disease from my dad, the last time I visited Ninewells Hospital in Dundee was when I accompanied a really close friend to her clinic appointment.

While I was waiting for her to finish, I got chatting to a woman in the waiting room who turned out to be a coordinator for SHARE. She told me about the scheme and I signed up straight away.

What is SHARE?

SHARE, the Scottish Health Research Register, is a new NHS Research Scotland initiative created to establish a register of people interested in participating in health research.

When you sign up for SHARE you agree to allowing them to use coded data in their various NHS computer records to check whether you might be suitable for health research studies.

One example is in allowing SHARE to use any leftover blood following routine clinical testing.

This can be incredibly useful when it comes to developing new tests, treatments and cures for a wide variety of health conditions.

Why I joined

Every time I visit the renal clinic—currently every six to nine months—I have blood taken to check my kidney function. They can’t possibly use it all when they do their tests, so I thought it sensible to give permission for my leftover blood to be used for research purposes.

As I write, there are currently 177,848 people registered.

You can find out more on the Register for SHARE website from NHS Scotland.

 

Baby #3 – 20 weeks scan

Ultrasound image of baby #3 at 21 weeks
Ultrasound image of baby #3 at 21 weeks

Today marked the start of the 21st week of Jane’s pregnancy. This morning we drove up to Ninewells hospital in Dundee for Jane’s 20 weeks ultrasound scan.

As you can see from the image above baby #3 (whom we discovered will be a brother to Reuben and Joshua: he’s a boy!) was facing down for the duration of the scan. We didn’t get a good look at his face sadly, but he appears to be doing really well the little miracle that he is.

Reuben and Joshua, who accompanied us to the appointment, were delighted to see and point at “BABY!” on the computer monitor.

Getting ready

This weekend it’s going to be my task to dismantle the bunk beds in the second guest bedroom in order to create nursery #2.  We’ve scoped out a programme of work to get things ready between now and the end of November.

Baby #3 is due to make an appearance on 27 January 2011.