Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects

Gojko Adzic (2012)
Review date: April, 2013

This is more of a booklet than a book. By writing a mere 70 pages the author probably wanted to ensure that he wrote a book that would be read. In short, this book is about a technique called Impact Mapping, which is related to inUse' Effect Mapping but is not quite the same, hence the different name. The technique helps in discovering what actions need to be taken to achieve a certain business goal. Such an action could be writing some software, in which case the technique helps in identifying the user stories.

The book comes in three sections. The first, called "What is an impact map" explains what an impact map is in terms of the goal, actors, impacts, and deliverables. Then examples of two actual impact maps follow.

The next section, "The role of impact maps" explains the technique's relation to other agile (discovery) techniques such as adaptive planning, design thinking, or user stories.

The last section, "Creating an impact map", contains more detailed explanations of how to actually go about when creating the map and ends with common organizational, facilitation, and mapping mistakes.

Typographically, the contents seem to be created to reinforce learning. There are lots of images, different fonts and page layouts. The book looks a little like a "Head First" book, but takes using visual aids even further.


This book is an important piece of work in the field of product discovery. If applied correctly, impact mapping can save lots of money, shorten and clarify planning, and provide a visualization of how system development, or other activities, are related to company goals. The trap is that many pitfalls lie in the technique's simplicity. It's deceivingly simple at a first glance, but it really requires getting the right people to participate and a dose of skilled facilitation.

Just because the book is short doesn't mean that its contents are trivial. I sometimes had difficulties figuring out how a section was connected to the rest of the material. Well... Maybe how everything fits together is clear, but the transitions aren't always smooth.

On the other hand, the author is very clear about the topic being new, and hopes for the community to catch on and evolve the subject and technique. I expect this book to plow the path for "Impact Mapping from the trenches". Such a book, based on some more experience and experimenting, would probably boost the industry's adaption rate.

As for the contents and message; the message is solid. I really believe that mastering impact mapping can and will help us to perform better, as an industry, and to use IT resources where they are truly required and to the correct extent and level of ambition.

We also have to give the author credit for trying to break the pattern of what a book like this should look like. The illustrations and other visual aids as well as the emphasized key concepts and questions sure enforce the message. I also appreciate the author's insight in how people read books and for keeping to the topic in a concise manner.

All in all, I liked the style, I liked the message, and I liked the size. I think this is a book that gives back a lot to a reader after only 70 pages, and I suggest that pretty much everybody who works with requirements and discovery reads it.

Who should read this book

This book provides a powerful productivity boost for everybody working with product discoovery or requirements.


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