Scrummaker: The experience mapping workshop

By courtney in Agile Development on October 15, 2012

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On Thursday and Friday October 4 and 5, Boost closed its doors for an all-hands two-day product development workshop, to build a new tool to support teams to run Agile retrospectives, which we call Scrummaker. This series of blog posts records the two days: what we made, and how we did in.

A little context: Boost is a team of designers, developers and Scrum Masters, who have been working with Agile for the past six years or so. As well as building websites and custom software and offering Scrum services and coaching from our Wellington office, we’ve recently opened an office in Shanghai offering Scrum training and coaching. Nathan Donaldson is Boost’s managing director and the Product Owner for Scrummaker.

As part of the whole Scrum ethos, I’m timeboxing the writing of each of these posts to 20 minutes, so if the brevity leaves you curious, feel free to get in touch for more detail.

The experience-mapping workshop

Since we started using story mapping last year, we’ve made experience mapping a regular part of all new project kick-offs. It’s the best way we’ve found to quickly generate and prioritise a product backlog.

For Scrummaker, our experience mapping workshop was made up of three of Boost’s Scrum Masters plus two other prominent Wellington Scrum practitioners. Nathan facilitated the session, in which the group

The group then did some rapid persona development: a quick exercise to identify different users, the context each is operating in, and what they value. (This kind of persona development is described by Jeff Patton in this 2009 talk on pragmatic personas.) These personas were then prioritised, with Daphne the Distributed Scrum Master coming out on top.

Daphne, our key user persona for Scrummaker
Daphne, our key user persona for Scrummaker

Daphne’s context

About Daphne

Daphne values

(Our other two personas were Rob the Rookie, an inexperienced Scrum Master who has just passed the CSM and is working on his first project, and Carl the Corporate Scrum Master, who is a more experienced Scrum Master with particular concerns around traceability and accountability for retro actions and outcomes, and data security.)

Taking the retro steps they had identified, the group then wrote features for the tool based on these personas. Finally, using Daphne as their priority customer, the group arranged these features into three releases: the minimal viable product (MVP) and two further releases that would add more and more value.

And that was the end of the experience mapping workshop. Between the time that we ran the workshop (Tuesday) and the morning we met to start work on the new product (Thursday) Nathan worked with Federico, one of our Rails devs, to turn the features on the post-it notes into fully developed user stories with complete acceptance criteria, so a product backlog was available for the team on Day One.

There was one more step between the experience mapping workshop and project kick-off. The team decided to hold a technical Q&A session, to thrash out some details so we could hit the ground running on Thursday. The next post in this series covers this technical discussion.