grok – negotiate – build up

In our current project, a software for managing sports events, user stories play an important role when it comes to development. Interestingly the focus of the requirements conversation changed completely from one level of maturity to the next. And there is a pattern behind it, as it seems. It leads to story mapping.

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What is a requirement? A probably agile answer

Requirements focus on value. This at least is the name of a category for this Blog. But what are requirements anyway? If you know the answer, fine. But for all those that are as confused as I am, this article gives the ultimate answer, or hopefully one as helpful as 42 was for Loonquawl and Phouchg.


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A case for features – a sports event management system

Currently, I’m involved in a project to develop an event management system for large sports events. The goal is to replace a few existing systems with one integrated system that is able to cater for the coming needs. End of elaboration is closing in and we’re planning for the incremental delivery to follow during construction. 


Budgeting, estimation and release planning all turn around features (Part 2).

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User centred business analysis – a sports event management system

Currently, I’m involved in a project to develop an event management system for large sports events. The goal is to replace a few existing systems with one integrated system that is able to cater for the coming needs. The project will last for about five years. The project team will grow to approximately 20 persons. We apply an agile unified process.  


Part 1: Understanding business is a success factor. We use methods from user centred design rather than from business modeling.

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From Stars to Road agile innovation toolbox

Given that stars to road has grown quite a bit it is time to give a quick overview over the toolbox we described so far (or wanted to but did not yet). This list is meant to grow, once we add more tools into the toolbox.


First the essentials of the stars to road framework:

Maturity Levels

Innovations mature from stars to road. While a story matures, our focus changes.

Start page
How mature are you’re ideas

grok – negotiate – build up

Aspects of Maturity

Innovations mature along three aspects: business, technology and commitment. Don’t forget the third!

How mature are you’re ideas

Maturity Rating

Maturity rating sheet

A simple tool to assess the maturity of an innovation from stars to road. You can use a work sheet like this to rate the maturity in a workshop.

Maturity tools for product owners

UCD Cycle

The flywheel of the innovation: Fast cycles with users, customers and other stakeholders. Lean Startup uses the similar build – measure – learn cylce (not described yet).

Meet users

Actionable metrics
not desribed yet
While maturing, get creative and define and collect metrics that really allow you to go, to kill or to cure.

Solution Levels

Creating solutions needs work on three levels: story, concept and details.

Meet users

Powerful Stories

The story decides the fate of an innovation. Make it powerful. To have powerful stories NABC (Ourspeak), Business Model Canvas and Lean Canvas are great helpers.

Powerful Stories

Fields of Expertise

Business and strategy, market, subject area, experience, technology and corporate abilities.

A great innovation combines the best from business, market, UX, domain, technology and corporate abilities into one great package.

Know how to shape the future

Lean Procurement

Once identified the challenge, find the partner with whom you want to accept it.

A strategy of how you involve your partners into your work so you do not loose ages to evaluate the best suppliers.

RFPs are dead, lets collaborate!

User Story Mapping

The tools from clouds to retirement to manage product releases.

Grok, Negotiate, Build Up

Landing Zone
not yet described
The goals you set based on your actionable metrics to continue, to kill or to cure.

Innovation Field
not yet described
Gain an overview over the many items in your innovation pipeline.

Some more tools we put in our toolbox

  • Process Maps (User centred business analysis): A rich visualisation of process know how including structure, detailed steps, pains, and opportunities.
  • User Journeys (not described yet): A visualisation of the work, the life and the dreams of the potential users.
  • Story Telling (not described yet): The many ways of creating an experience of the users’ world tomorrow, when an innovation will be on the market.
  • Speed Creation (Increase productivity with a speed creation session): a three days workshop format to nail the vision for an up-coming development.
  • Design thinking (not yet described and we probably won’t): a framework running many UCD cycles to get from stars to clouds.
  • Creativity Techniques (not described yet, and we probably won’t): Ways too milk the brains for more and better ideas in a workshop setting.

Yet Another Manifesto…….

What is it with the recent rash of manifesto’s?

Since the signing of the Agile Manifesto a plethora of other Manifesto’s have arrived on the scene. Software Craftmanship, Project Management to name but a few.

They add NO value to development, in fact it seems their sole purpose is so that the signatories can make more money.

To me, this feels like the rash of CMM’s that arrived in the 90’s.  The original CMM was a useful tool for measuring the maturity of an organization. We needed one and only one.  The CMM was diluted by a number of new flavours; for Hardware; for Testing; for Software    resulting in a lack of clarity of objectives & direction.  Finally this was consolidated into CMMI and now it has become about implementing maturity (which even sounds ridiculous).

How long will it be before the various manifestos are consolidated into another chocolate teapot? See

Agility, Common Sense and Agilista Failings

Much of Agile is simply about common sense. Do what is needed when it is needed!

Most of the real value of Agile methods is in how it enables us to knock the rust off old ways of working. The revelation that software development needs “people centric” is, in fact, no revelation at all.

The really big news is that developers need to engage in with the business. Oddly, this is the message that the vast majority of agilista’s fail to deliver to, failing to properly engage the business in the agile development process!

“Planning poker? Not again!”

A few days ago, we had a discussion about Scrum and one person asked the question if it really isn’t possible to run effective estimation meetings with 16! persons involved. If you have an answer ready, wait. Once the problem becomes clearer, the solution is getting more interesting. It may rather be a question of maturity than of team size. 

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An interesting article in CIO magazine:”Why BAs Are So Important for IT and CIOs”

CIO magazines article on the importance of BAs to IT and CIOs is an interesting read. In particular it reinforces the difference between BAs who slavishly “flog the dead template horse” and those who are communicators and analytical thinkers.  Take a look at the article here.  Which type of BA are you (really)?


I’ve to look where there is light

In Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, there lived the popular character known as Dällebach Kari (died 1931). Even so his time is almost 80 years past, he is still remembered for many things, one of which was his pointed humor. Here is one anectode in the category practical philosophy:

One night two cops came across Dällebach Kari searching for something in the light of a street lamp. “Hey, Kari, what are you searching for”, they inquired. “I lost my chewing gum over there”, Dällebach Kari replied pointing towards a dark corner on the other side of a bridge. The two policemen were a bit lost and scratching their heads they wondered, “well, why are you searching here, then?”. “Because, obviously, I have to search where there is light”, was the reply.

So: can you spot the relevance to software projects?

Why Joey taped a picture of a cake to his wall

If you ever tried to propose an idea to somebody, you have certainly experienced a few personalities, like Joey has in this story. And after having met them Joey, for example, felt the urge to pin a picture of a cake in a sunset to his cubicle walls. For others, this is not sufficient and they have to create a lengthy comic strip. 


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Know how to shape the future

In order to create great products, know how is needed. Agile gurus talk about the cross-functional team. Have a look at this image search for cross-functional teams to see what it means. 

Clearly, it’s not quite agreed what cross-functional teams are. But it actually doesn’t matter. Much more important than having a definition of a cross-functional team is having an organization where the experts are actually working together in a productive way. Here’s a puzzle piece to achieve this: generic areas of expertise needed in a innovation project.

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Mobile and Agile: Why can’t they get along?

This morning’s RE12 keynote was excellent. Steve Fickas described his use of a gaming engine and other resources to create a virtual environment for testing / requirement elicitation for mobile devices.

Fickas went on to describe how he interfaced mobile devices under development to the virtual environment and use this for testing in early stage development iterations (it is more controlled / manageable than the real world)