SPA Conference session: Agreeing on Business Value with Systems Thinking

One-line description:A structured method to come to a shared understanding of "Business Value"
Session format: Tutorial (150 mins) [read about the different session types]
Abstract:We talk a lot about "maximizing business value". We ask business people and product managers to prioritise by estimating the business value of user stories. But what exactly do we mean by business value?

Over the past few years we've worked with many teams to define their "Business Value Model", a clear definition of the value a project will bring to the organisation. The exercise hasn't always been easy but it has always brought significant benefits:

* Measurable business value in units that impact the organization (such as revenue , customer satisfaction, staff retention)
* Everybody involved was more motivated because there was a clear reason for the project and they finally understood what it was
* The whole team was aligned around one vision because we had clear criteria to define success
* We came up with more innovative solutions because everybody on the team, not only the "business" or "product" managers/owners could take product-related decisions based on the model
* We could deliver a lot faster than anybody expected because the Business Value Model allowed us to easily distinguish between value-adding and non-value-adding features
* We spent a lot less time writing and prioritising user stories because we were able to derive the user stories from the value definitions
* The Business Value Model guided us to explore new product ideas: the business value model was a hypothesis that we could test and refine each time we released or performed user testing.

In this interactive tutorial you'll apply some Systems Thinking techniques, such as the Diagram of Effects and Intermediate Objectives Map) to define the business value model of an example project. We'll show you the techniques we used and discuss how you can apply those techniques in you context so that you'll be ready to start building a business value model with your team.

* Learn about a structured and repeatable way to make value explicit
* Construct a business value model that makes the hypotheses, assumptions and constraints of a project explicit
* Apply some Systems Thinking techniques
* Get some ideas to apply a Business Value Model in your project
Audience background:Anybody who is or wants to be involved in maximizing value. One of the important elements of a Business Value Model is that it's a whole team exercise, not the province of a single role. No specific knowledge or experience necessary.
Benefits of participating: * Be able to develop a useful and actionable definition of "business value" for your project
* Develop less software
* Avoid "Product Manager/Owner" bottlenecks
* Create and align a "whole team" around a clear vision and valuable objectives
Materials provided:* A case study to work on, with supporting documentation
* A handout that summarizes the techniques and provides pointers to further material
* Workshop materials
Process:* Explanation of the benefits the presenters got from using these techniques
* Presentation of the case
* Techniques are introduced "just in time":
* we explain a technique
* participants apply the technique on the case
* debrief
Detailed timetable: * 15' - Introduction
* 20' - We introduce the most important stakeholders and goals of an example project in the format of a pre-filled "Goal Table". We explain how we use the "Intermediate Objectives Map", "Current Reality Tree", "Conflict Resolution Diagram" and "Future Reality Tree" techniques to create this table by filling in the table gradually. (presentation and Q&A)
* 20' - Identify Value Drivers and build the Business Value Model with the "Diagram of Effects" (exercise)
* 15' - Identify and add constraints to the Business Value Model. Refine the Business Value Model (exercise)
* 15' - Presentation of the Business Value Model we made.
* 20 'How we use Business Value models: benefits we've seen, objections we've encountered and tips we've found useful (presentation)
* 20' - Retrospective and Q&A + creation of posters that sum up what the participants learned and how they'll apply the techniqes
Outputs:* Business Value models built during the session
* Lessons learned posters
History:Presented at Agile2010, XP Days Benelux 2010 and re-run at Mini XP Day Benelux 2011
1. Pascal Van Cauwenberghe
2. Portia Tung