Just been to this talk by Gojko on Product Management using Effect Mapping. It is a technique which is useful for high level project visualisation. It is very similar to mind mapping technique where stakeholders, users and teams colloborate on project scope.
It helps reduce scope of wish lists and helps teams focus on business goals by asking the questions Why?, Who?, How? and What? in this orders
Why? Allows you to narrow down to the business goal. This is the centre piece of your effect map from where all other discussions should start and reason upon
Who? It is not the user but it is who can cause the desired effect to achieve the business goal. In most cases these are project/ product stakeholders.
How? For each stakeholder , identify how the target group can achieve or obstruct the desired effect in real life and not in terms of software, these should effectively be stakeholder needs
What? For each stakeholder identify what business activities or software capabilities would support the needs of the stakeholder. These become your epics in the product backlog
At the end of the effect map both the stakeholders and team should be able to see the synergy of the business goals and what needs to be achieved.
For more see, Gojko’s white paper on this see http://gojko.net/effect-map
Some advice from people who have used this are..
- Getting the right number of people can be a challenge
- Staying focussed and at the right level of detail is important
- Ensuring enough focus on the how is important
- Keeping everyone away from solutionising is a real big challenge when technical people are involved
- Ideal group size of 5-8 when working for a time box of 2-3 hours
- Will be of immense value to the business
This technique is not necessarily something for agile projects you could use it even for waterfall projects
A useful tool I have found which you can use for this is at www.mindmeister.com. Check it out its pretty handy. Even if you are a developer striving to do something on your own , if you put your ideas on a mind map it will help you visualize the idea.