If an engineer at your company approaches you and asks why they’re working on a specific task, how confident are you that you’ll be able to quickly convince them that they’re not wasting their time? Alternatively, if a senior manager asks you what you’re working on to improve retention for small business customers, will you be able to assure them that you’re on top of things?

In our free eBook, The Path to Product Excellence: Stories and Advice from the Field, John Cutler offers a pretty easy test to see how well you’d do with the above scenarios.

“Do this. Go to your ticket system, whether its JIRA, Trello, Asana, or even a physical board. Pick a random in-progress ticket (or card, story, task, etc.) that has no parent. Now, try to connect that ticket to a big company goal. Here’s a format you can use:

We’re working on this ticket to accomplish [the mission of that ticket] to help us achieve [some higher level mission], which will help us achieve [some even higher level mission], which will help us achieve [some even higher level mission]…

Keep going until you hit a meaningful 12-18 month company goal, such as “decrease churn by 20% in FY2019.” You may even track the ticket to multiple goals.”

How’d you do? It’s definitely a tough task, but fear not! In the eBook, John offers insights into how he builds mind maps to create product stories that link all your tasks and objectives together.

“Ideally, you should have a map that connects each of your immediate tasks (tasks that you may accomplish in the next week or two) to your 12-18 month company goals.”

He also provides advice on how to put group sessions together so that you can collaboratively put these mind maps together. After going through his piece and putting his advice into practice, you’ll be ready to knock out every tough question that comes your way!

To read John’s piece and to get more stories and advice from product experts such as Dan Olsen, Kat Kennedy, and Hiten Shah, download our eBook!

Monty Mitra Jan 18, 2019