AoAD2 Practice: Visual Planning

This is an excerpt from The Art of Agile Development, Second Edition. Visit the Second Edition home page for additional excerpts and more!

This excerpt is copyright 2007, 2021 by James Shore and Shane Warden. Although you are welcome to share this link, do not distribute or republish the content without James Shore’s express written permission.

Visual Planning

Product Managers, Customers

We have a map for achieving our purpose.

Your plan is the key to achieving your team’s purpose. Rather than saying “do this, then this, then that,” create a plan that allows you to visualize your choices and adapt your plans as you go. Visual planning is how you do so.

The right visualization is the one that works for your team and its stakeholders.

The possibilities for visual planning are endless. Here, I discuss four techniques. You can follow one of these techniques as written, mix and match between them, or create new visualizations that are wholly your own. The right visualization is the one that works for your team and its stakeholders.

Who Plans?

Whole Team
Real Customer Involvement

Visual planning is led by team members with product management skills, with the assistance of the team’s other on-site customers. Do your best to include key stakeholders, too, at least for high-level planning, and look for opportunities to include real customers. Their perspectives will improve the quality of your plans.

Developers can be heavily involved, or not, as your team sees fit. Some developers prefer not to attend yet another meeting—and, in truth, their time may be better spent elsewhere. On the other hand, developers’ work will benefit from an in-depth understanding of the plan, and their perspective often leads to better plans. I tend to leave it up to each individual developer to decide.

The Planning Game

Even if developers don’t attend, they still need to understand the plan and provide feedback. Be sure to set aside time to discuss the plan with developers. The planning game might be a good time to do so. continue reading, buy the book!

In this Section

  1. Visual Planning
    1. Who Plans?
    2. Cluster Mapping
      1. 1. Brainstorm stories
      2. 2. Cluster stories into increments
      3. 3. Organize increments
      4. 4. Review and refine
    3. Breaking Down Increments
      1. 1. Brainstorm stories and cluster into small increments
      2. 2. Filter and repeat
      3. 3. Prioritize
      4. 4. Play the planning game
    4. Impact Mapping
      1. 1. Start with the goal
      2. 2. Brainstorm impacts
      3. 3. Incorporate actors
      4. 4. Prioritize impacts
      5. 5. Brainstorm increments
      6. 6. Break down increments
    5. Prospective Analysis
      1. 1. Create the chart
      2. 2. Brainstorm possible outcomes
      3. 3. Review and refine
      4. 4. Prioritize outcomes and create plan
    6. Story Mapping
      1. 1. Determine scope
      2. 2. Define steps
      3. 3. Distill out user activities
      4. 4. Identify outcomes and goals
      5. 5. Create the “later” map
      6. 6. Divide into increments
      7. 7. Play the planning game
    7. Iterating the Visual Plan
    8. Questions
    9. Prerequisites
    10. Indicators
    11. Alternatives and Experiments
    12. Further Reading

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