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Kickstart your Product Backlog with Innovation Games


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How to start your Scrum project? How to initialize your product backlog? You are not alone, in most agile projects, managing the product backlog remains a complex and difficult activity.

Scrum said that it's the Product Owner that manage the product backlog but it does not tell us how (It's a framework you know). However, the product owners are people from the business. They have little or no experience with Agile and what it means in term of contribution to the project.

How to involve a group of users in the creation of product backlog without that they feel cheated or ignored? How to prioritize dozens or even hundreds of user stories of varying sizes with a group of users representing different needs with conflicting interests?

The Innovation Games are techniques that can address these issues. The art is to combine these methods with a view to a common vision to emerge as an initial product backlog that will help the Scrum team to start the project on a solid foundation.

Presented at Agile Tour Brussels 2013

Kickstart your Product Backlog with Innovation Games

  1. 1. Kickstart your Product Backlog with Innovation Games #atbru 2013 @FredVandaele
  2. 2. Context European Commission "New" domain Low priority Limited resources Many stakeholders
  3. 3. • Operational Units • Administrative Units • Financial Service • Legal Service • … Stakeholders
  4. 4. After 6 months, we have … – Pile of documents – Pile of diagrams, – … … let's do it! A first « Waterfall » try
  5. 5. And now ladies and gentlemen …
  6. 6. Why it failed? • No shared vision • No clear priorities • Centifugal forces
  7. 7. Let's try it differently!
  8. 8. Innovation Games Playing games is serious!
  9. 9. Innovation here! To explore and Discover Source:
  10. 10. In many cases in life we know what B looks like... Clear Goal
  11. 11. Fuzzy Goal In creative work we don’t...
  12. 12. Source:
  13. 13. The Game universe Boundaries Facilitator Observers Goal Time + Space Rules Players Artifacts
  14. 14. From ideas to action … Discover Shape Prioritize Act Source:
  15. 15. Shape What is it made of? How does it work? What does that look like?
  16. 16. Game: "Start your day" To understand When and How Your Customer Uses Your Product "Describe your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly events related to your use of the product"
  17. 17. Game: "Start your day" Why it works? We remember what's just append but we forget what we did in the past … Memory is activated by context
  18. 18. • A time line of User's needs • A clear view of the whole process • Customers shared their needs & Vision Output
  19. 19. Some work here … • We need a simple way to structure our information • We like stickies on a wall As an Agile Team, we want to organize our user stories into a Story Maps.
  20. 20. Card Mapping
  21. 21. Prioritize How can we prioritize? What to do first? What to do in the next weeks?
  22. 22. Game: "Buy a feature" Create a list of features with estimated cost Distibute money … but not too much ;-) Customers buy features that they want
  23. 23. Game: "Buy a feature" Why it works? Users see the big picture & decide Priorities emerge from discussion Ppl negotiate to optimize
  24. 24. Output A subset of requirements selected by stakeholders A clear Scope
  25. 25. Game : "Prune the product Tree" Start with a very large tree Write features on index cards Place desired features around the tree, defining the next phase of its growth
  26. 26. Game : "Prune the product Tree" Why it works? We trend to put our efforts behind the most important features … … sometimes this means that we put too little effort behind the features that are needed to complete the product
  27. 27. KANO "Performance" needs "Basic" needs Excitement needs or Delighters Customer Satisfaction Degree of Implementation Delight Immediate happiness Not unhappy Disappointed
  28. 28. We have our first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) & Path of development Output
  29. 29. Act How to plan the work? How to do it now?
  30. 30. And…? It works !! 1 month: first version is online 6 months: the product is there !
  31. 31. Retrospective Don't start a product by the "beginning" Start by the most valuable stuff!
  32. 32. Retrospective Identify questions that matter
  33. 33. Retrospective Use several games, mix techniques
  34. 34. Retrospective Prepare, Prepare, Prepare, Work as a Team
  35. 35. Retrospective Fun is good for creativity Activates your Right-brain!
  36. 36. Thanks! @fredvandaele