Recently I’ve (completely by accident ;D) read latest book of Gojko Adzic (author of well-known and commonly praised "Specification by Example") - "Impact Mapping" ( Ok, it wasn’t really an accident: Gojko ( is an expert in TDD, BDD and general agile methods, so books he publishes are usually more than just worth a read.

This book pretends to be something even more than an average agile-related book - more like an introduction to “simple yet incredibly effective method for collaborative strategic planning” named *Impact Mapping*.
What’s “Impact Mapping” about? Creating impact maps, of course :) Impact map is a visualization (in a form similar to popular mind maps) of roadmap / requirements / specification / scope contract. It is brief, structured and created evolutionarily by collaboration. Impact maps cover the relationship between following information quantums:
WHY? (goal) What do we want to achieve?
WHO? (actors) Who’s involved / affected by what we want to do?
HOW? (impacts) How will the actors help / prevent us from reaching the goal?
WHAT? (deliverables) What has to be produced to make _actors_ reach the _goal_ using _impacts_
All the relationships are 1 .. *, what means that each goal may have be an objective for more than one actor, etc.
Thinking about specification / user stories in that way seems to be very interesting, because:
  1. You don’t start with "shopping list" - exactly the opposite (having clients designing solutions instead of us is one of our greatest sins!)
  2. The goal is a root of everything. This way you make sure you won’t lose it.
  3. Products are the answer to all the preceding questions (WHY? WHO? HOW?).
As you can see, I like the general idea, but there are some things I don’t like about this book: it tries hard to make an impression of being *very* inventive and “hypish”. Anyway, book is very brief and condensed - I encourage you to give it a try.