Technique Summary: BABOK 10.5 and 10.6 and Agile 7.3

By Alissa Johnson

Below is a summary of Technique 10.5 Brainstorming and 10.6 Business Capability Analysis from BABOK version 3 and Technique 7.3 from the Agile Extension to the BABOK guide version 2.
 

Technique 10.5 – Brainstorming

Purpose – Brainstorming fosters creative thinking about a problem; the aim of this technique is to produce numerous new ideas, and to derive from them themes for further analysis.

Description – The intent is to derive a broad or diverse set of options. It works by focusing on a topic or problem and coming up with many possible solutions to it. It helps answer specific questions such as, “What factors are constraining the group from moving ahead with an approach?” and “What options are available to resolve the issue at hand?”. This technique is best applied in a group as it draws on their collective experiences and creativity, but can also be helpful for individuals looking to spark new ideas. To heighten creativity, participants are encouraged to find new perspectives and freely associate in any direction.

Elements – Brainstorming includes:

Preparation

  • Develop a clear and concise definition of the discussion topic; establish rating and evaluation criteria.
  • Determine time limit for idea generation. Larger groups will require more allotted time.
  • Identify facilitator and participants of the brainstorming session. Aim for 6-8 participants from diverse backgrounds and experience with the topic
  • Set expectations for participants and get their buy-in to the process.

Session

  • Share and record all new ideas without limit, discussion, criticism or evaluation. The goal is to elicit as many ideas as possible within the established timeframe.
  • Encourage creative, exaggerated ideas; build on the ideas of other participants.

Wrap Up

  • At the end of the established time period, discuss and evaluate the ideas using predetermined evaluation criteria.
  • Create a condensed list of ideas. Combine ideas where appropriate; eliminate duplicates.
  • Rate the ideas, then distribute the final list to all interested parties.

Usage Considerations –

Strengths

Limitations

Elicits many ideas in a short time period

Participation is dependent on individual creativity and willingness to participate

Non-judgmental environment enables creative thinking

Organizational and interpersonal politics may limit overall participation

Can be useful in a workshop to reduce tension between participants

Group participants must agree to avoid debating the ideas raised during brainstorming

 

Technique 10.6 – Business Capability Analysis

Purpose – Provides a framework for scoping and planning by generating a shared understanding of outcomes, identifying alignment with strategy and providing a scope and prioritization filter.

Description – The ability of an enterprise to act on or transform something that helps achieve a business goal or objective. May assess business capability performance and associated risks to identify specific gaps and prioritize investments. Product development efforts often attempt to improve the performance of an existing business capability or to deliver a new one. If an enterprise continues to perform similar functions, the capabilities required by the enterprise should remain constant despite changes to the method of execution.

Elements-

Capabilities - The abilities of an enterprise to perform or transform something that helps achieve a business goal or objective. Describes the purpose or outcome rather than how it is performed. Occurs only once on a capability map, even if possessed by multiple business units.

Using Capabilities - Impact value through increasing or protecting revenue, reducing or preventing cost, improving service, achieving compliance, or positioning the company for the future. There are varying levels of value, and various tools used to make value explicit in an assessment.

Performance Expectations - Assessed to identify explicit performance. When targeted for improvement, a specific gap can be identified. Gaps are the differences between current and desired performance, given the business strategy.

Risk Model - Risks are found in the performance, or lack of performance, of the capability, rather than in the capability itself. Risk categories include: business, technology, organizational and market.

Strategic Planning - Current and future state can be assessed to determine where the enterprise needs to go to accomplish its strategy. The assessment may produce a set of recommendations or proposals for solutions, forming the basis for a product roadmap and serving as a guide for release planning. At the strategic level, capabilities should support an enterprise in establishing and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage and distinct value proposition.

Capability Maps - Graphical view of elements involved in business capability analysis, such as value, performance and risk, ranked by priority. There is no set standard, capability maps can be part of a larger capabilities grid.

Usage Considerations-

Strengths

Limitations

Shared articulation about outcomes, strategy and performance, which help create very focused and aligned initiatives

Organization must agree to collaborate on this model

Helps align business initiatives across multiple aspects of an organization

When created unilaterally or in a vacuum it fails to deliver on the goals of alignment and shared understanding

Useful when assessing the ability of an organization to offer new products and services

Requires broad, cross-functional collaboration in defining the capability model and value framework

 

Agile Technique 7.3 – Impact Mapping

Purpose – Impact Mapping is used to align stakeholders with organizational goals and the creation of customer value.
Description – Impact maps break down the organizational goals into specific deliverables, to help align initiatives and delivery activities with overall organizational goals. The visual maps help all stakeholders stay focused on value creation (the what), and enhance feedback loops between the Strategy, Initiative, and Delivery Horizons by tying activities to organizational goals (the why). Business analysis practitioners generally facilitate face-to-face brainstorming sessions to generate impact maps.

Elements-

  • Goal: identifies 62 the organizational goals the solution aims to achieve (why are we doing this?).
  • Actors: identifies the stakeholders who can contribute to achieving the goals (who can influence goals?).
  • Impact: identifies the actions actors can take to achieve goals (how will actors influence goals?)
  • Deliverable: identifies which deliverables and functions will help actors achieve the organizational goals (what activities help actors complete goals?)

Map Creation Process: Best done as a face-to-face facilitated exercise to capitalize on the interaction between people of various expertise and knowledge areas.

  1. Gather all key stakeholders and team members in one space to collaborate.

  2. Have space to create the visual impact map.

  3. Facilitate the identification of each component, starting with goals, then actors, then impact, and then deliverables.

  4. Once the impact map is created, keep it visible for later revision and refinement.

Usage Considerations-

Strengths

Limitations

The focus is on organizational goals rather than features, and goals specify quantifiable objects

Best done through face-to-face facilitation

Reduces waste by preventing scope creep and over-engineered or over­designed solutions, gives large context with little information and time spent

Impact maps need to be visual, accessible, and can be revised

Transparency to know when business outcomes are achieved and when to stop projects before too much money is spent

 

Visual formats enhance refinement and decision making as new information is found