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on 18 November 2012
First, a confession of self interest. Gojko is a new professional friend, who I have met at several IT Conferences. He cites and credits me, and my ideas, in his book. All of his ideas are highly resonate with my own. So, what is not to like?

On the other hand, I have a reputation, I hope, of being highly critical of most all the new IT development trends. Partly for the sport, partly because software as a trade is still so embarassingly primitive, and failure prone (a subject Gojko leads in with). So, if there is something wrong with the book, something that would waste the readers time - I am honor-bound to say so!

I have a method for reviewing books. If the point made in a sentence or paragraph is IMHO a good one, I write a `+' in the margin. If it is debatable, a `?' and you can guess what symbols I use for brash claims and bad logic. If it is generally bad for long stretches, I don't mark anything, put it aside and, politely, don't review it.

Hopefully the intelligent public won't be fooled either, by useless books. But the IT development community is famous for liking and adopting very `simple' development ideas, that don't work. Or, worse, the methods work a little better than even worse, previous methods. Our failure rate is still horrendous - a shame to the profession. I read this book in 3.5 hours straight, interspersed with other things (OK, family TV).

So how does this book rate? Every page has about 4 to 8 `+'s. There are no `-`s at all. There are a very few places where a `?' means it might be clearer for me. So that means I think Gojko has hundreds of well-formulated and useful insights (`+') that are worth sharing. Pretty good, since some books in our profession have none (IMHO).

But the overall picture is even more important than a stream of deep and useful insights.

1. He totally understands that IT and software development must primarily be about delivering real value for money to stakeholders (who he calls `actors').
2. He understands that software alone is not the solution to all problems and objectives, even in a software-dominated system or application. He understands that we have to include a notion, that others call `systems engineering': meaning `considering the totality of smartest ways to solve the problem, of delivering value for money to stakeholders'.
3. He gives us a simple co-operating set of potentially useful tools (`Impact Mapping') for helping us keep focused on the real stakeholder objectives - in spite of a complex and rapidly changing world.

He is very open to any ideas that might help us further the `value for money for stakeholders' objective, and draws on a rich, but reputable, variety of credited sources. He is enthusiastic about his toolset, yet clear about the fact that it is early days in his own personal use of the entire method, and that we need to get experience with it, and perhaps evolve it - as he already has done compared to his previous book. He does not yet offer detailed case studies, let alone scientific studies of the method. But he hopes the community will help collect this data, and specifically refers to a website to start a community of practice. If history is any guide, the case studies will arrive, and data will be collected. And `Impact Mapping' will hopefully turn out to be a useful wave of improvement.

I know, from my own experience, the power of much of what he recommends, for example the power of taking the step of quantifying the top level project drivers; to clarify the stakeholder values. This step is like day from the night of the pervasive management BS driving most all software projects.

He tries to describe pitfalls, so we can avoid them. I like such a balanced picture, and a realistic picture.

One central idea, if not THE central idea, is that there is a causal chain from the central `business' objectives of the development project, to the stakeholders, their values, and finally to the means (design) to deliver prioritized satisfaction of those values. I am totally in sympathy with that idea, and it has been totally missing from the current `agile' culture, as I have repeatedly pointed out.

IT systems are too important to society to be put in the hands of `coders' who cannot raise their sights to the interests and values of victims of their craft.

Gojko gives us a practical set of tools to work this value chain, and maintain its integrity during change.

Are their things I would improve upon? Of course; and so will Gojko, and hopefully maybe you, reading this. But we all are subject to the cultural maturity of our clients and students. We cannot impose `ideas of sophistication' on the many who are not yet motivated, experienced and ready for such `improvements'. Culture change takes decades, at least, and we have to be patient.

I, for one, would be delighted if Gojko helps us get more buy-in, for real, of the central practice of `recognizing that the central mission for IT developers is to consistently, early, frequently, and cumulatively deliver central, critical, high-level improvements to the stakeholders'.

Imagine if we `nerds' one day became famous for our ability to deliver amazing value quickly?

Tom Gilb
18 November 2012
Kolbotn, Norway
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on 19 November 2012
This book describes the technique of "impact mapping" in enough detail to allow you to use it with working teams, and facilitate workshops on it.

For more on the technique itself which is a useful way to generate ideas for features that are firmly oriented to business value (the opposite of just 'doing them because we can'), see Gojko's website at

What I specifically appreciated about the book was:
- it's short - long enough to cover the ideas in good detail, but with no bloat (300 page textbooks that include 30 pages worth of value are a bane!)
- useful tips on how to apply the technique in different contexts
- draws on and references a lot of the best thinking and best practices in agile product development in general so it's a v useful starting point for further reading.
- clear and jargon-free

In general I think impact mapping is a hugely useful addition to your portfolio of techniques if you're doing agile / startup product development and if you're going to do it you should really get this book.
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on 19 November 2012
This intentionally short book serves as a great introduction to the tool of Impact Mapping and also the principles and ideas behind it. I read the e-book version and have to say it was presented beautifully. The presentation, coupled with the brevity of the book should hopefully help to disseminate the ideas within.

Impact Mapping is a tool that is intended to help organisations to utilise 'Agile' principles throughout software development organisations rather than localising these changes within Tech Departments. It is intended to help clarify thinking in such a way as to allow organisations to derive project scope from their goals.

I've yet to try the technique of Impact Mapping but I have been persuaded by the argument for deriving product design and features from the desired effects and impacts that a software development organisation wants to have, rather than (as I am more used to seeing) from a set of desired features or features derived from perceived user needs.
The change in thinking required to use Impact Mapping, or any other tool with similar intentions, must in my opinion require many decision-makers to reach the conclusion to work in this way. As a lone voice in a crowd, seeking change, I suspect I require my boss and my boss' boss to consider these ideas.

Which leaves me with the troubling question, how do I encourage others to read it?
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on 2 November 2012
I have done quite a lot of work trying to get requirements out of business peoples heads in a form that can be used for software development. I have used some of the work of Tom Gilb, I have used Mind Maps amongst many other techniques.

So first off, I am very impressed with the way Gojko has synthesised a number of techniques to produce something which quickly extracts the key information from stakeholders, in a workshop environment, with more precision and yet without getting into implementation details. You don't usually get much time to do this sort of thing, so focus an speed are essential.

I have not yet tried this technique myself (but I will!), but there is an interesting vimeo which includes a section by a facilitator from a company using the technique: [...]

So another key point is the amount of background material already available on [...]

The book itself: it is nice and short, with a light writing style, so quick to read. It covers what Impact Maps are, their role and how to create them. I particularly liked the emphasis on pragmatically extracting measurements, plus warning signs for various types of problems such getting the right people, right number of people, facilitating tips, and specific mapping gotchas.

This book is well worth the price and the short time you will require to assess the relevance to you - mastering will take longer.

Why not 5-stars? I would have liked a section which took a look at another example in more detail - there is a running example through the text which is good, but an example which was almost a "play through" of a session would have been perfect.
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on 11 January 2014
This is another great book from Gojko Adzic.
Contains a simple, fast, and practical framework that you can use tomorrow to improve the Product Owner - Feature Team collaboration that aims (or should aim!) to achieve business goals.
Also contains summaries of related works that have impacted his thinking (if you'll excuse the pun) with references that enable learning journeys if you so desire (e.g. Design Thinking, Adaptive Planning).
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on 20 June 2014
Impact Mapping is one of the missing pieces in many agile methods and this book is a brilliant introduction to the subject. Not only are the examples clear, but the illustrations are top notch. To be used in conjunction with The Lean Startup for great results!
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on 17 May 2013
If you can pick it up cheap enough (which I did) you'll over look its brevity as an issue.

The contents though are accessible and its core messages are revolutionary for product development. Quite simply many many people don't need to be part of projects that are, and many many things don't need to be done.
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on 7 May 2014
I'm going to give it 5 stars, with a reservation. I think the idea itself is worth 5. It's a short book, and I've read it 3 times.

Where I feel the book is weak is by not actually making the concept so clear. After the first read, I kind of realised the book had a big idea worth understanding more, but I needed to read it again to get a grip on it. Why it failed is, in my opinion, by trying to be too visual, with lots of cartoon pictures to summarise topics. The main set of pictures uses a racing car, driver, mechanic, engine and stuff, and this made it less clear, not more.

However, once I went over the book and got my own metaphors and pictures (I'm certainly not against pictures), once I personalised the ideas, in other words, I recognised the book as contributing substantially to my thinking in business model design.
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on 11 October 2013
This is a good description of why you want to use impact mapping, plus a guide on how to facilitate an impact mapping event. I liked that it took the good things from Gilb's impact estimation approach and coupled these with the 'do don't talk' approaches for early validation from service design and design thinking so that you see how you can shorten the feedback loop and also put effort where it's required to achieve results.
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on 22 July 2013
Great Agile-led development is when the review of the iterations have context.

This book provides an excellent framework for providing visibility of the the business context in a simple to understand manner that focuses on the minimum required pertinent detail.

When I used the technique to work through a live programme's goals it quickly and clearly showed flawed assumptions, backlog tasks unlinked to the goals and a lack of empirical justification for prioritisation of resources. The resulting format was easy to work through with product owners and other stakeholders to collaborate in how to re-align the programme.

Highly recommended particularly in engaging with the senior business stakeholders.
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