• 28 January 2016

    Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: User Experience

    A Jump Start into Agile/Scrum - Part 1

    In Fall 2015, I worked with several colleagues to create our own version of a agile/scrum description for our team members working on digital (web & apps) for Marketing-centric efforts.


    An Adaptation of the Manifesto for Agile:

    • Individuals and interactions
      MORE THAN processes and tools
    • Iteratively functional solutions
      MORE THAN comprehensive documentation
    • Colleague Collaboration
      MORE THAN project negotiation and "lobbing a brick"
    • Responding to change
      MORE THAN following a rigid plan
    • Focused effort
      MORE THAN divide and conquer

    'Product' Backlog

    "Product" Backlog

    Players: Stakeholders, Scrum Product Owner (PO), & List/Backlog.

    • List of all the requested work on the project, a.k.a. the requirements list.
    • Each item within the list, PBI (product backlog item), should be written to describe value to the end-users of the project, referred to as "User Stories" and “Epics” (longer/larger User Stories).
    • The PO should try to decompose User Stories into the smallest possible description of value to the end-users.
    • The list should be compiled, ordered and prioritized by the PO.
    • No timeline or schedule should be associated to the Product Backlog or PBIs.

    Backlog Grooming

    Backlog Grooming

    Players: Scrum Product Owner (PO), Scrum Master (SM), Scrum Team Members, & List/Backlog.

    • Re-prioritize for the start of each iteration to adapt to changes in business needs and/or scope, referred to as "Backlog Grooming."
    • Backlog Grooming should occur regularly. A best practice is to do once per week as a pre-Iteration Planning activity.
    • Scrum Team Members can use Story Points (a.k.a. Planning Poker) to determine both the perceived level of difficulty for a given User Story, and the perceived volume of work to achieve the given User Story. Values of Story Points should not be a measure of estimated hours.
    • Story Point values for each User Story are relative to the other User Stories, and the goal is for the Scrum Team Members to gain an understanding of each others' work for the Sprint. The Fibonacci number scale can be used for the Story Points.

    Iteration Planning

    Iteration Planning

    Players: Scrum Team Members, Scrum Master (SM), & Scrum Product Owner (PO).

    • User Stories should be prepared in advance of the Iteration Planning meeting/conversations.
    • Scrum Team members select User Stories from the prioritized Product Backlog to commit to achieving by the end of the Iteration time duration.
    • User Stories can be deconstructed into actionable tasks and sub-tasks. A technique called User Story Mapping can be used to help deconstruct User Stories.
    • Story Points can provide an estimate of Scrum Team's potential bandwidth thru-put for the Iteration, referred to as "Iteration Velocity." From past Iterations, actual velocities can be used to inform the team’s achieved bandwidth thru-put.



    Players: Scrum Team Members, Scrum Master (SM), & List

    • User Stories as well as related tasks and sub-tasks are tracked throughout the duration of the Iteration, as progress is made towards completion.
    • Common categories for tracking progress are:
      • Not Started - team has committed to achieving this user story or task during the current Iteration, but no one has begun work towards this item.
      • Work In Progress - one of the team members has begun work on this item.
      • Done - this item is 100% completed, tested, and ready for deployment.
    • A visual display of all User Stories, tasks, and sub-tasks can help all team members stay informed on their collective progress. For example, color coding elements can assist in the visual display:
      • Planned user stories - Green
      • Tasks/sub-tasks - White
      • Unplanned user stories - Yellow
      • Bugs - Blue
      • Impediments - Red
    • The team’s actual velocity can be tracked during a Iteration as well as Iteration-to-Iteration.

    A Jump Start to Agile/Scrum

    To note, while this isn't anything revolutionary, we did this as an exercise to establish a common definition and description for our team members.

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  • 28 January 2016

    Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: Travel, California

    Ski Squaw - January 2016

    A storymap of my recent ski trip to Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe.

    View full-screen: http://arcg.is/1RrtOCk

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  • 9 December 2015

    Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: Travel, California

    Ski Mammoth - December 2015

    A storymap of my recent ski trip to Mammoth Mountain.

    View full-screen: http://arcg.is/1jP7Iuu

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  • 26 November 2015

    Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: California

    Ski Banff - November 2015

    A storymap of my ski trip to Banff, Lake Louise & Sunshine Village.

    View full-screen: http://arcg.is/1NdeMwX

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  • 26 November 2015

    Posted by Frank Garofalo | Topic: User Experience

    Journey Canvas: a business-oriented group brainstorming

    Originally posted at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/journey-canvas-business-oriented-group-brainstorming-method-garofalo


    Let me start off with some background context. This past Summer I was introduced to two brainstorming / ideation techniques.

    First was SCIPAB, which is an acronym for "situation, complication, implication, position, action, and benefit." It was created by Mandel Communications as a 6-step method to help people communicate in a more impactful manner. (For more information: https://www.mandel.com/why-mandel/tools-methodology/scipab )

    Second was a new technique for group brainstorming called the Business Model Canvas. It is a visual chart template initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder for creating new, or re-evaluating existing, business goals ad value propositions for a product, system, or service. Additionally it is a technique recommended in the Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers ;book by David Gray, James Macanufo, and Sunni Brown ;(For more information: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Model_Canvas ).

    As I was beginning to understand how each of these two techniques were intended to be used in a professional setting, I noticed a few similarities to other goal-setting and idea-generating methods in which I was already familiar. These other techniques include: SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats); Problem-Solution-Benefit model, SMART Objectives (Specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound). ;On the flip-side, there were also some unique, differentiating elements to each of these methods.

    I had been asked to facilitate a brainstorming/ideation session in late summer, so I decided to create a new model which combined elements from several of these other methods and models.

    At the beginning stages of a project, or even a new phase of an existing project, there are ;many challenges. Often one of those challenges is reaching an agreement on the goal or vision for the effort, in other words establishing a common direction. Once a ;common direction in place, then an additional hurdle can be ;communicating it out to all the project team members, stakeholders, managers, and others. Furthermore, for the individuals who will be contributing to the project, the next obstacle might be ;forming a shared alignment. In other words, once the direction has been established (the over used metaphor of the flag at the top of the mountain to ascend to the summit), next is to verify all the project team members are coordinated and synchronized in their work towards the common direction (to use the mountain metaphor, are they all pointing towards the flag with a level of awareness of all the other team members and the path they will take to ascend the mountain). ;

    My goal for creating a new model was to focus on a tool to help project team members and stakeholders achieve a consensus for the direction/vision of a project and begin to establish the shared alignment towards that direction. For a technology product, one key element of this is to identify who the primary target audience is for the product. Notice this reference to target audience is singular. Sure a product can have multiple target audiences, but there should be one specific and primary target audience identified.

    I introduce to you the "Journey Canvas."

    The goals when using the Journey Canvas may include:

    • Describing the purpose of the project as a single statement, and keeping it aligned to the organization's purpose.
    • Describing the high-level "current state" circumstances
    • Identify the complications and implications
    • What are your key strengths and value propositions?
    • Who are the key target audience members?
    • How does the project team (or organization) interact with the target audience members?
    • What are the key objectives and metrics to gauge success?
    • What drives your budget (cost and revenue)?


    Sections of the Journey Canvas:

    1) Frame - a one line statement for the purpose of the product/project. In other words, stating a motto of the project team. This should be aligned with the organization's purpose and vision.
    2) Situation - Top 3 "Current State" circumstances
    3) Strengths - Top 3 Business/Project strengths; what are we really good at doing?
    4) Complications - Top 3 Changes/Pressures/Demands, which are creating problems, challenges, or opportunities?
    5) Implications - Top 3 consequences of failing to act... to address the challenges, or seek the opportunities. What is the opportunity cost?
    6) Solutions - Top 3 capabilities; begin to generate solution-oriented ideas

    7) Unique Value Proposition - Clear, compelling message that states why this project/product are different and worth investment
    8) Benefits - Top 3 results (what's in it for the business, stakeholders, target audience/end-users, etc.); what would they say about the solutions (listed within ;section 6 of the Journey Canvas)?
    9) Target Audience - Key personas/Users/Stakeholders
    10) Channels - Paths to the Target Audience; this can be if validation is needed of ideas, to conduct user research, and/or to solicit feedback from prototypes

    11) Key Objectives / Metrics - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. What does success look like? How do we know if we achieved success? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure?
    12) Unfair Advantage - Why can't the Solutions (from section 6) be easily replicated, copied, or replaced by competitors/threats? What gives us an upper-hand?
    13) Business Model (Costs & Revenue) - How will we make money, and what will be the costs we incur? Will this effort be a loss-leader?

    A recommended 3-step approach for using the Journey Canvas:

    1. Individual activity [part 1 of 2] - with each person writing their ideas (1 per sticky note) for the first five sections (approx. time to allocate for the activity 5 minutes)
    2. Individual activity [part 2 of 2] - with each person writing their ideas for the remaining six sections (approx. time 5 minutes)
      [note, this separation of the sections is based on feedback to guide participants through the activity and focus their attention on a few sections at a time].
    3. Group Activity - once each person has contributed their individual ideas, now the group can perform a card sort activity with the sticky notes in each of the sections. This will begin to help visualize if there are any emerging common themes as well as any distinctly unique concepts. (approx. time 10 minutes)


    Lastly, once the Journey Canvas has been completed by the project team, it can serve as a spring board into other activities to build upon and further refine the concepts generated.

    Template: Journey Canvas 8.5 x 11 PDF

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