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Mural: Build Experiences Not Features


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How well do you think your product team takes what they learn from their users and puts it into the next iteration of the product? How well does your team come to a common understanding of what the next iteration of the product will look like and then build a product that reflects that common understanding?

These two problems — improving your product with user research and effective team collaboration — can both be solved with a design tool called User Story Mapping.

Published in: Design
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Mural: Build Experiences Not Features

  1. 1. BUILD EXPERIENCES NOT FEATURES: User Story Mapping at IBM Jim Kalbach @mural #remotedesign #remotework
  2. 2. The hand-off Design thinking to agile implementation should be a smooth transition … When it goes well it’s seamless but when it doesn’t, it can be problematic for everyone involved. image source:
  3. 3. What it should be image source:
  4. 4. What it oftentimes turns into image source:
  5. 5. Here’s the problem. Eric and I noticed a few of things: • gap between design’s user research and the development work in the finished product • teams come to hills workshops, generate alignment, but shared understanding of the work to be done for the current release quickly gets lost • design leads felt compelled to drive their teams to develop hills but had no way to break them down into actionable work
  6. 6. There’s a gap between user research and development work • We have hills … now what? • We have hills … how do we act on them? • We’ve done all this research … how do we use it to impact the product? Uncertainty turns to inactivity
  7. 7. There’s a gap between user research and development work Inactivity turns into teams saying … Let’s just put these hills back on the shelf and forget about them for now. We don’t have time to map this stuff out, can’t we just have a product lead figure this out and share it in a Word doc? OR
  8. 8. Product teams need something to bridge the divide YOU
  9. 9. User Story Mapping can be the bridge User Story Mapping YOU
  10. 10. User story mapping explained User story mapping takes a measured approach to decomposing hills. At its core, we break down hills by simply asking ourselves, “what does the user need to do to get this done?”
  11. 11. • Represented as a tree • Starts with an overarching vision • Basic structure: What’s it look like? achieved by accomplishing goals. broken down into individual user stories. completed by performing tasks. reached by completing activities. is the smallest increment of the process.
  12. 12. User story mapping visualized
  13. 13. User story mapping benefits • Visual presentation of your backlog • High-level view of work being done in the current release • Improved collaboration between stakeholders • Prioritized work based on collaborative goals • More accurate story sizing • Simplification of the product road map • User stories easily become GitHub issues for design and development sprints User story mapping has a lot to offer.
  14. 14. User story mapping in action We piloted user story mapping with our Continuous Release and Delivery Insights teams. Examples you see today come from our work with them.
  15. 15. Delivery Insights was facing a number of challenges when we approached them to do user story mapping. • Customers asking for different insights for different use cases • Lack of clear direction from previously written hills • Teams weren’t communicating about the work they were doing.
  16. 16. Before So how can my team incorporate this? Let’s talk about how to run a working session with your team. 1. Get stakeholder buy-in 2. Know the user – have a validated persona 3. Know what the user is experiencing – have a defined as-is 4. Know what you want to do for the user – have a draft of hills
  17. 17. Getting stakeholder buy-in Set up two meetings with key stakeholders: 1. Introduce the topic and explain the use and benefits 2. Have them spend 15-20 minutes trying the exercise  Researcher / design lead  Offering Manager  Dev Lead Bare minimum stakeholders Meeting topics
  18. 18. Selling stakeholders on user story mapping Created by Continuous Release team stakeholders during separate 15-minute sessions
  19. 19. Know the user – the validated persona
  20. 20. Know what the user is experiencing – the as-is You can’t make life better for your user without knowing their journey. Created by Delivery Insights after realizing they weren’t focus on the right user.
  21. 21. Know what you want to do for the user - pre-workshop hills
  22. 22. During 1. Revisit and refine pre-workshop hills 2. Draft a to-be scenario including user stories 3. Refine workshop hills 4. Refine the to-be scenario and user stories 5. Refine hills one last time 6. Create a Golden Thread So how can my team incorporate this? By this point you’ve done 50% of the work. Pro tip: Workshops can be done in-person or remotely.
  23. 23. Delivery Insights’ workshop hills, v1 Before After
  24. 24. Delivery Insights’ to-be scenario & user story map, v1
  25. 25. Delivery Insights’ workshop hills, v2 Before After
  26. 26. Delivery Insights’ to-be scenario & user story map, v2
  27. 27. Delivery Insights’ final workshop hills Before After By the end, one hill became two separate hills.
  28. 28. Delivery Insights’ Golden Thread draft
  29. 29. After You’ve done the pre-work and your workshop was a success, but you’re not quite done. 1. Validate the Golden Thread with users 2. Finalize hills, epics and stories with stakeholders 3. Add finalized work into GitHub backlog for release planning So how can my team incorporate this?
  30. 30. Delivery Insights’ Golden Thread shown to users
  31. 31. Delivery Insights’ Validated Golden Thread
  32. 32. Add finalized work into GitHub backlog
  33. 33. Workshop DOs and DONTs Learn from our mistakes by remembering these key takeaways. • Don’t allow unvalidated personas from any stakeholder. • Do your user research. Your success depends on it! • Do get a facilitator. You need to focus on helping your team. • Don’t worry about perfection. It’s supposed to be iterative.
  34. 34. Long-term outcomes Design can use the Golden Thread to make a case for working one or more iterations ahead of development.
  35. 35. Where does User Story Mapping fit into the continuous release cycle?
  36. 36. APPENDIX
  37. 37. Sources mapping/9781491904893/ product-backlog