Thursday, 23 February 2017 07:08

Adventures in Opportunity Canvasing, Part 3 of 3

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The big day had finally arrived! Thanks to my earlier preparation (see parts two and three), I set up in record time and could sit and worry before everyone got there.

Apart from having the canvas up on the wall, I also decided to print off my template. I placed a few templates on each table so participants could get a closer look and read the prompt questions themselves. I also put pens, sheets of paper, and sticky notes on each table in the event people thought of something to contribute and wanted to write it down before forgetting. Alternately, if we decided to have them fill out the sticky notes and place them on the board themselves, they would need these materials. I wanted to make sure I was ready for a few variations to the meeting as I find once you are in a group you realize you have to change your approach. For instance, if no one was participating out loud, I could ask them to fill out some sticky notes on their own and then place them on the canvas as they talked about them.

To start things off, I had my key stakeholder give an introduction of the opportunity at hand and some background on why we wanted to explore it. Since he was from the business area the others operated in, I felt that he could tell a better story. Once he finished with his introduction, I then presented the Opportunity Canvas as well as some housekeeping rules such as not using laptops, when we will take breaks, and the Jellyfish rule. No one had questions about the approach so, we were off!

Here we go!

I was fortunate to have an active group of people who were willing to talk and share their ideas. I was able to write out sticky notes as they talked and placed them on the canvas. Some areas did require a little prodding, such as users and customers. I got them started with some example users and customers that I had generated during my dry run. From there, they were able to introduce other customers I had not considered, and we found a couple of segments with different problems.

Overall, we came away with many ideas for how to solve customers’ problems. We even had time to do a small exercise to order them in a way that we thought would provide the most value initially (those are the arrows in the Solution Ideas section). We also identified a customer segment that would be good to experiment with. Here is what our board looked like after:

haglof 021317

Would I do it again? What would I do differently?

I would use the Opportunity Canvas again. This technique, in particular, was a good way to focus a discussion, establish a flow, and make sure to hit the important points. There are still a few things I would do differently:

  1. Narrow the scope of the opportunity and present that scope at the beginning of the meeting. I knew this opportunity was large to start with, and I should have picked the part of it to focus on. I found people straying to other topics that were closely related, but not in scope.
  2. Tie the solutions you have today with the problems to help identify additional problems for your users or customers. For instance, if one solution today is calling the company, and you have limited call hours, a problem for customers is finding time during their work day to contact you.
  3. When completing your user and business metrics sections, try your best to put them in the form of a hypothesis. This makes it easier to setup measurable goals in the future when you start to gather data. In fact, having people set up the hypotheses with specific time frames and measurements is even better. Teresa Torres has a good, measurable hypothesis format, you can find it here.
  4. Gather any initial data, statistics, or research you can prior to performing the Opportunity Canvas discussion. There were a few times participants asked about specifics like “How many customers do this?” or “How long does this process take?” I believe having answers could have resulted in identifying more problems or solutions.

More broadly, I have convinced myself to practice new techniques or methods more often, even if it means barricading myself in a small conference room. I read a lot of articles and books every week about lean methods, requirements gathering practices, how to build a roadmap, etc. For everything I read, I lose about half of the knowledge, because I do not try it right away. This was the first time I was able to try something, with a large group, shortly after reading it. Practicing it helped cement the learning.

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Kirsten Haglof

I have been in the software industry since 2009.  I started in customer service for a company making software for insurance brokers.  I then moved to a position as a Business Analyst for financial planning software and found my passion for building software!  Most recently I became a Product Owner allowing me to guide the direction of the client experience.

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