BRIDGeS Tips and Best practices
Apart from general information on the BRIDGeS framework, its advantages, and the session description, you can also read the best practices and tips that our team formed during many BRIDGeS sessions. This additional information can help you make your sessions smoother and more effective.
Please note that these tips are advisory and can be skipped if you lack time, run a session by yourself, or don’t have the necessary facilities.
Aspects to know before the BRIDGeS session
- Prepare for the session in advance. Come up with the team composition, learn the existing materials, the BRIDGeS components, and process flow. It’s better to start earlier, so there’s no rush that leads to mistakes and reworks. It’s important that team members have a deep understanding of the context you’re going to discuss.
- Choose a toolkit. Whether you have a remote team and run a session online or an offline meeting and sit in one room, you can still use virtual whiteboard software such as Figma, Miro, or Mural. We advise you to test them in advance and choose the one that feels the most convenient for you. It’s also possible to use real boards and cards (sticky notes) for offline meetings. But we prefer to use online tools on all our sessions, as they are much easier to work with after the session (for a discovery replay, roadmap development, task estimation, etc.).
Aspects to know during
- Follow the silence rule. It’s important to get rid of all possible distractions that could interrupt the session. We recommend setting phones to silent mode so you can fully focus on the process. If there’s a meeting that can't be moved and that slices through the session, the facilitator should be informed in advance so that he or she can plan around it or take a break. However, the main idea of the session is to get the complete attention of the stakeholders (subject matter experts), who directly influence the outcome. This is why forcing a clear focus, and total involvement is a top priority.
- Use BRIDGeS templates. You can save a great deal of time if you create a template using a chosen tool (Miro, Figma, Mural, etc.) or use our ready-made Figma template for your session.
- Add all the visual materials to the board as a reference for the discussion. It can be screenshots, examples of competitors' products/strategies, charts, or anything else that can help the team to dive into the context and ignite the conversation.
- Ask questions all the time. Questions allow a team to get deep into the context and better understand the discovered matter. It's especially vital during the demo of a product-related issue. If there is not much to show (existing increments, design, documents, wireframes, etc.), investigate competitor products or products in similar markets. Knowledge from the demo might be converted to Domain knowledge at a later point.
- Discuss one Subject at a time. Think of the potential Subjects and place them on the board. Now focus on one Subject and list all the Benefits related to the Subject. Actually, it’s totally situational from what description you begin. We believe it's either to start with Benefits or Issues. After that, list all Issues. Check what’s lacking. Put down Domain knowledge and Goals of the Subject. Jump to another Subject. It’s possible to jump between Subjects during the process if there’s a new idea. If that’s it, move on. Make sure that all ideas have been talked about.
- Keep the text on the cards short. We recommend using cards for the BRIDGeS session, as they are easy to memorize, move around, spot on a board, and much more. However, all of these advantages only exist if the cards aren’t overloaded with long sentences of text. A good tip is to discuss what is going to be written on each card. By reformulating and rephrasing each idea, you digest it one more time, improve, and get less text on cards.
- Don’t prepare cards in advance. You may think about some descriptors beforehand, but we do not recommend using them as cards before the session starts. The goal of the session is to consider different ideas, discuss them all together, rework, perfect, modify them, and only then add these ideas as cards to the boards.
- Don’t make separate notes. Every idea you or your teammates generate may have great potential. Don’t just discuss things, write them down somewhere, and throw them away. Use your main board for that, even if ideas seem irrelevant for now. Keep this information on the board as a sort of a knowledge base.
- Do board matching carefully. When you have several variants of the Solution, epics, and nested tasks in the Solution Space, do cross-checking to make sure that all critical descriptors (those that were prioritized as must) have a match in the form of a task or an epic. By the way, one task can satisfy several descriptors, and one descriptor can be covered by several tasks.
- Follow prioritization when creating a roadmap. When/if working on the development roadmap, go by priority when sorting tasks. The most critical tasks (marked as must) will go first, and then tasks marked as should, could, and won't. But it's possible to put must and two should tasks, for example, if there are interconnected dependencies. When putting the roadmap, also think about complexity and what will give a bigger bang for the buck. Simple and most valuable features should go first.
- Don’t sit all day. Monotonous work and sitting for a long time lowers the concentration and decreases the productivity of the team. A facilitator should rotate the role of a helper so that different teammates take turns from time to time. Also, do breaks every two hours or so. But don’t overstretch the breaks. Ten – fifteen minutes is enough to refresh and stretch legs.
- Don’t skip lunch. If your session is going to take 6+ hours, don’t ignore lunch. Lunch allows participants to rest, clear their minds, and get ready for the next round.
Aspects to know after
- Digitalise implementation plan. After the session, it is worth transferring the resulting roadmap or actionable plan into task tracking tools such as Jira, Trello, Asana, or Google Spreadsheet. It’s also a good practice to estimate tasks while the memory of the context is fresh. You can use a T-shirt estimate scheme (large, medium, and small tasks) to form the scope for a sprint, a month, or a half-year period.
- Collect feedback. The more you practice BRIDGeS, the more advantages you can get out of it. Another aspect that can help you improve following sessions and make them more productive is the team's feedback. When collecting feedback, you can see what activities or approaches were the most useful and which aspects you and your team can improve on. Ask each session participant to describe how they feel about the session, what was good, and what could be improved. All the answers should be stored in a separate doc and taken into consideration afterward.
- Thank everyone for their contribution. If run appropriately, sessions are usually very intensive and fruitful. Thank everyone, and make sure they know what happens next ‒ all the materials go to a separate folder in the cloud and are shared.