Usergroup meeting 26/10/2010

XP Day session tryout: Agreeing on Business Value with Systems Thinking

Cap Gemini will host the next Agile/XP Belgium usergroup meeting. This session is a tryout for XP Days Benelux.

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.


  • 18:00 – 19:00 – Welcome with snacks and drinks
  • 19:00 – 21:00 – Session

Address: Bessenveldstraat 19, B-1831 Diegem, Belgium

Register here for this free event


Lean Product Development at Lean & Kanban Belgium 2010

Parallel evolution

Last Thursday and Friday I participated in the Lean and Kanban Belgium 2010 conference. I was scheduled to present a session on Friday morning, so I could go to many sessions on Thursday.

Every session that I attended on Thursday said many things I wanted to say:

  • Sandrine Olivencia talked about challenging the team for continuous improvement
  • Dave Nicolette talked about the dysfunctions around budgeting and the need for IT to integrate, not align, with the value stream
  • Anthony Marcano and Andy Palmer explained how analysis can be implemented as a pull system
  • Ryan Shriver essentially said all I wanted to say about finding the real goals of our users and quantifying their needs
  • John Seddon told tales about really understanding value demand and taking a systems thinking approach to the design of work in his usual, inimitable style

What was left to say? At the end of the day I could scrap about 3/4 of my talk. The good news is that many people are independently reporting that these techniques and approaches work. And they can show results.

In the end, there was more than enough to fill an hour. After the presentation several people asked questions and discussed what I presented.

p.s. I followed Dave Nicolette‘s advice to grow a profitable consultancy: coin a new acronym. I give you “IDD”. You’ll have to watch the presentation to know what it means. And you’ll have to pay me big bucks to come implement it in your organisation 🙂


Conflict Resolution at Mini SPA 2010

Portia and I presented a tutorial on how to use the “Conflict Resolution Diagram” systems thinking tool at the Mini SPA conference in London on September 10th 2010.

The slides of the presentation and summaries of the systems thinking tools are available on the agilecoach site.

Let us know if these tools gave you ideas to resolve some conflicts in your life.


Mini SPA 2010

Solve Conflicts without Compromise at Mini SPA 2010

Portia and I have been invited to re-run the “Solve Conflicts without Compromise” session from SPA 2010 at Mini SPA 2010 on Friday September 10th. In the SPA session, participants used the Conflict Resolution Diagram to explore four real-world conflicts brought by the participants. I really liked doing the session, because the participants could really try out the tool and four participants got some ideas to solve some important conflict in their work and life.

Two features of the session were crucial to its success: we had plenty of time (3 hours) and a limited number of participants (20). Neither of those conditions will be true at Mini SPA. Therefore, we’ve had to apply some systems thinking tools to ensure that the session still delivers the benefits.

Check out the programme of Mini SPA: it features 6 of the most liked sessions of the SPA conference in two tracks. The conference is free, but you need to register. Don’t wait too long, places are limited.

See you in London!

Solve conflicts without compromise


Conflict Resolution Diagram at SPA 2010

Solve Conflicts Without Compromise

Portia Tung and I will co-present “Solve Conflicts Without Compromise with the Conflict Resolution Diagram” at the SPA 2010 conference in London on May 19th 2010.

Come and play with us to sharpen your problem-solving skills and come up with real solutions to a difficult choice you’re facing.

The Systems Thinking materials for this session are available on the Agile Coach site.