Release Planning

How to build an estimated release date.

I had time to reflect on what our blog post would be this week. This was because I just went on vacation with my family. I’ve been going on a summer vacation for decades with my family (yes that makes me feel old but it’s the truth). I do what everybody does when they pack for vacation. You think about what you will be doing and try to pack accordingly. I know fishing will happen and hopefully I’ll catch a fish or two. So I always bring my fishing rods, tackle box and net. We always get a round of golf in so I can’t forget my golf equipment. Last but not least, who can forget about the hot tub. So that means bring a swim suit. 

Look at that fish

Regardless of when I fish or golf or swim I know I need the everyday stuff. We all do. Clothes, shoes, toiletries and don’t ever forget the phone charger. Needless to say I forgot my razor and my net for fishing. Happens to the best of us :).

This dude forgot to pack his razor.

For family vacations you will be required to plan and communicate schedules to everyone demanding information on whats happening. Similar to large corporations that want their Agile teams to give an estimated date for when they think something will be done. That helps with the budget, coordinating cross dependencies, and scheduling upcoming work. Use the tools agile has given you along with your common sense to build the release plan. Check out latest episode above to hear about what you can do with your own team.

Edward Edgecase

How to handle edge cases that distract from story mapping.

We struggled to come up with a good topic for the blog this week. That was until we had snapchat up and were watching stories on “fails”. Then it hit us, some guy shot a firework out of his mouth (Video below).

Guy Shoots Firework Out of Mouth

There is no way the firework company thought this was a valid use case for anyone would do. I’m sure after this video the company added a disclosure to the firework saying please don’t shoot fireworks out of your mouth. This is a lot like story mapping out what your users are going to do. Its easy to watch videos like this and think that its valid to explore all the paths that a user might use the product the wrong way. It will not end up helping solve future issues. Users are often unpredictable in how they may try to do something. So remember, the core idea about Agile is to get something out there and get feedback on it. Then you can incorporate some of those items that will come up after the product launches. If you want to hear us talk about tips and tricks in our latest podcast about edge cases, then listen to the player above.

Stop the solutioning

Podcast about staying on track when story mapping

We just did a fantastic episode (above) about story mapping and how to keep your team focused. If you ever have tried to multitask, then the thing that will resonate with you is that its hard and often it leads to both task not ending well. Now story mapping can be similar to multitasking if you aren’t focused on the right thing. The reason you do story mapping, is for the team to figure why and what you want to build without getting into the low level implementation details.

Don’t talk to your buddy. Just sing and scream with the band.

Now in my personal life, this reminds me about something that took place a few months back with my nephew. We decided to go see The Pixies and Weezer. We caught up on stuff as we went to the concert. We had a few good conversation and a couple laughs over a beer while we sat and waited for the bands to start playing. We were excited to hear the bands even though we only knew a few songs from each band. Once they started playing, we decided to focus on the music. Sure we could have tried to a have a conversation during the concert, but we would’ve had to yell at each other. That would have dampered our experience at the concert, and we would have missed the music and had a lousy chat. It’s similar to trying to solution while story mapping. It’s ok to talk about some solutions during times you feel stuck, but concentrate on the core part of the discussion which is what you want the user to do. If you want to hear about our thoughts, listen to our episode above.

Now back to the concert, it was amazing and I had a blast! Live music has an energy that is fantastic to experience in person. Favorites songs at the concert were Gouge Away and Say it ain’t so. If you aren’t familiar with the bands above, I recommend you check them out: Doolittle and Weezer (Blue Album). One of my favorites as a new comer coming onto the scene is Flora Cash. If your looking to have a blast and some fun with your friends, I would recommend bands with a Irish flair like Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. Great stuff.

Personality Disorder

Listen about how to avoid some pitfalls when creating personas.

Have you ever wondered if you’re getting into the “weeds” when planning something? I have. This feels like almost and everyday thing. I do have one example in mind and its fantasy football.

With the NFL draft finished and team mini camps just about to start, I have started to think about the upcoming Fantasy Football season. Much like last year, when I was watching highlights of rookies who could potentially take me to the championship round and give me bragging rights for winning the league. How did that work out for me last year? Last year I spent time watching the whole NFL draft and making notes of potential rookie Running Backs and Tight Ends that could be a great addition to my potential roster. I made notes on what NFL defense may have been upgraded with new pass rushing pieces drafted. I wanted to be prepared last year, so I drafted in every spot via mock drafts. I developed a sense for who I could draft at each position.

At the end of the fantasy draft I was super excited as I felt like I put a top lineup in place. Much to my dismay, the first week I scored the 2nd most points but I played the person who scored the most points. That would foreshadow what the season would bring. It turned out that I would finish 9th out of 10 in the league. This is in spite of scoring the 3rd most points. My real weakness was focusing so much on value that I ended up drafting injury prone players. This resulted in my fantasy season being a disappointment. My number 1 goal for the upcoming fantasy football league will be focusing on value picks who have a history of durability.

Now what does this have to do with our latest episode? Our latest episode is about personas and we talk about similar experiences of focusing on the wrong things. When trying to figure out your customer, focus on what they want from your product and narrow it down to a few customers. Check out our episode above if you want to hear us give our own take on what is impacting your team from creating effective personas.

These two idiots did no research and won their league!