Presented by Pascal Van Cauwenberghe and Portia Tung


We talk a lot about "maximizing business value". We ask business people and product managers to prioritise by estimating the business value of user stories. But what exactly do we mean by business value?

Over the past few years we've worked with many teams to define their "Business Value Model", a clear definition of the value a project will bring to the organisation. The exercise hasn't always been easy but it has always brought significant benefits:

  • Measurable business value in units that impact the organisation (such as revenue €€€, customer satisfaction, staff retention)
  • Everybody involved was more motivated because there was a clear reason for the project and they finally understood what it was
  • The whole team was aligned around one vision because we had clear criteria to define success
  • We came up with more innovative solutions because everybody on the team, not only the "business" or "product" managers/owners could take product-related decisions based on the model
  • We could deliver a lot faster than anybody expected because the Business Value Model allowed us to easily distinguish between value-adding and non-value-adding features
  • We spent a lot less time writing and prioritising user stories because we were able to derive the user stories from the value definitions
  • The Business Value Model guided us to explore new product ideas: the business value model was a hypothesis that we could test and refine each time we released or performed user testing.

In this interactive tutorial you'll apply some Systems Thinking techniques, such as the Diagram of Effects and Intermediate Objectives Map, to define the business value model of an example project. We'll show you the techniques we used and discuss how you can apply those techniques in your context so that you'll be ready to start building a business value model with your team.

Format and length: 90 mins interactive tutorial

Intended audience and prerequisites:

Anybody who is or wants to be involved in maximizing value. One of the important elements of a Business Value Model is that it's a whole team exercise, not the province of a single role. No specific knowledge or experience necessary.

Objectives of the session:

  • Learn about a structured and repeatable way to make value explicit
  • Construct a business value model that makes the hypotheses, assumptions and constraints of a project explicit
  • Apply some Systems Thinking techniques
  • Get some ideas to apply a Business Value Model in your project

Benefit for the participants:

  • Be able to develop a useful and actionable definition of "business value" for your project
  • Develop less software
  • Avoid "Product Manager/Owner" bottlenecks
  • Create and align a "whole team" around a clear vision and valuable objectives