Intent Mapping

There's story mapping.
I've written about Feature Mapping.
Now; let's talk about Intent Mapping.

Intent Mapping

I know this isn't anything unique that I've come up with. Mostly because it's just pulling together observations from mobs I've observed.
I know Llewellyn does similar things.

I call it intent mapping based on how I've been helping teams mob more effectively. Let's start with how I've been doing that.

Llewellynv has a process of coaching Navigators in a mob on how to communicate.

  1. Intent
  2. Location
  3. Details

"Intent" means that the navigator should state what should be accomplished. It's outcome focused. We communicate this way as we want to communicate at the highest level we can. What we want to accomplish is as high as we can go.

"Location" is just that - Where the change should be made. Often getting the location will make it clear what was mean when the "intent" was communicated.

"Details" is when the driver isn't familiar enough with the language or domain to be able to do what's required without further input. We provide that information through the 'details' of what to do. This will help the driver not need the same level of detail in the future.

OK - This is where the "Intent" aspect of "Intent Mapping" comes from.

What I've done with teams is coached them to write on the whiteboard (we'll get to the remote form shortly) what they are planning to accomplish. What's the "Intent" of this mobbing session. This is the "Mobbing Intent". It's more than the intent a navigator communicates during mobbing. It's still useful and helps keep the mob on track and focused. The overloading of the word 'intent' is not helpful... but... ehhh... I'll live with it for now.

Much aligned with the work breakdown in Feature Mapping, what are the steps we might follow to accomplish our "Mobbing Intent"?
Just write the ideas down on the whiteboard.

These are still high level and may take some time, but smaller than the "task" that the "Mobbing Intent" represents.

This breakdown serves as a roadmap for the work. It helps the navigator a lot in their current task.
I'll frequently ask a navigator "What's your intent?" to help them re-center on the task that we're trying to accomplish. Before we had the Intent RoadMapping there would be a struggle to really define what they were trying to accomplish. Once we had the breakdown written up; the navigator could look at the highest non-crossed off breakdown and know what the current target is.

This provided the mob A LOT of direction and prevents A LOT of flailing. It's very specific and directed and helped extensively to keep the mob flowing. If the mob had an idea of something, but it doesn't align with the current task; it's very easy to defer it.

Often the tools that help us increase flow do so because they help us say, "No". Or more specifically they help us say, "Not right now".
We can then write that up as a future sub-task.


Llewellyn will use notepad (or variation of) to create this task list. That way it can be saved and referred to later by the team for similar tasks. I think this is great, but I REALLY like this list being visible on the whiteboard right next to the navigator.

Being remote - We don't have the whiteboard.

What I'm working with a team to do right now is use Word (because we're denied google docs) in Teams and create a bullet list.
The collaborative editing part is great. The team can do it via discussion and one person writing; or work together and everyone add their ideas.

This starts to get very close to feature mapping. It's an alternate form, I think. Slightly less flexible, but still valuable for the team. It's all about incremental improvements. :)

Create a bullet list and keep indenting as far as the team wants to add more and more detail to tasks.

As I specify in Feature Mapping, this breakdown should only be done for the item you're actively working on. Using digital allows the growth to be not as painful (booo) but I'd hope that after a few itterations they'd realize they keep modifying the "early breakdown / late work done" items and start to just wait on those later steps.


What I'm advocating here is to create a "Mobbing Intent" for what the current thing to accomplish is. Normally a story type task.

For that "Mobbing Intent" sketch out a "Mobbing Roadmap" set of tasks that are likely to be needed to complete the work.

For the "Mobbing Roadmap task" you're actively working on, break it down a little futher. Repeat. Do it some more.
I'd advocate breaking things down until the bullet point can be accomplished in less than an hour. Then do it.


Don't be beholden to earlier expectations. If a change to the plan is needed. Change the plan.
Inspect and adapt. It's key to success with this approach.

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