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Continuation of Product Prioritization: Diving Into Story Mapping

I’ve been diving into different product management – importance of roadmap and product prioritization and then a RICE framework for prioritization. Today, wanted to jump back in but look at story mapping. I haven’t done a story map before, but I’ll share what I’ve found reading up on several sites including Aha!, MANIFESTO, Agile Velocity, ThoughtWorks, and others.

The benefit of story mapping is its effectiveness as a visual tool to organize the development tasks and activities with goals – the stories a product/ service user traverses. It prioritizes for value and aligns the team on value and goals.

How to think of story mapping – my preferred route:
  • There are two axes – from left to right, the goals a user accomplishes to achieve a greater goal (e.g. make a purchase, stream a video, other). From top to bottom, the prioritization of stories (activities/ tasks) organized into a release schedule.
  • At the top level, you have the intermittent goals a user achieves. All tasks and activities that help accomplish this goal fall under. For streaming a movie on Netflix, for example, the top-level goals, these can be: “Find movie”, “Assess movie (details)”, “Select movie”. 


  • Under each goal would be the activities to accomplish the goal – the stories a user undergoes. For example, under “Assess Movie”: “View movie trailer”, “View movie description”, “View critics rating”, “View user rating”.
  • Take an iterative approach to the story map where developers, product managers, and customers review the stories for gaps… adding missing stories and removing redundant stories.
  • Evaluate which stories are critical for the first release – this may create the “MVP”. You could prioritize stories by “MUST”, “SHOULD”, and “COULD”. Assessing the stories, you could draw a line that demarcates the stories into the releases (or MUST, SHOULD, COULD).

  • Utilizing Post-It notes is a fantastic way to create these maps offering flexibility and color-coded stories, goals, etc.
  • Keep story maps focused on achieving specific outcomes and performing specific tasks for a target persona. Then, create other story maps as needed.
These are the highlights of utilizing story mapping in the realm of product management. It’s an effective route to hash out the activities to accomplish a user goal.

What are other methods for managing product development?

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