Journey Line

Journey Line is an activity that fosters self-organization and cross-functional behavior. It reveals a person’s skills, experiences, background, etc. This way, the rest of the team knows what this person “brings to the party.”

Well, let’s see what I bring to this party. Shall we?

This post is about an exercise I am working through that is named, Journey Line. My scrum master elegantly coached me to do this without me being able to comprehend at the time how beneficial something like this would be for myself and my company.

Suggested Supplies

  • Flipchart sheets
  • Sticky notes
  • Markers and pens
  • Masking tape for sticking up the result

ux supplies

After doing a bit of research to see how different facilitators run this exercise I learned that there is a general idea behind the exercise and based on the needs of the organization at a given time, the exercise will be modified.


The Journey Line provides a template for an individual to quickly sketch the positive and negative events that took place over the course of a given period of time.

To personalize this for myself, I will give myself a scope of the last ten years. This lets me know to set the x-axis to start at 2007 and end at 2017. The y-axis represents the ups and downs or positive and negative experiences along the 10 year time period.

I will try to document:

  1. one life event per year
  2. degree of positive or negative
  3. impact the experience had on me
  4. lessons I learned from the experience

I might find that some of the items listed above will be combined once I do the actual exercise, but this is how I am going into it. I’m sure I will iterate into something that feels right once I get started. Whatever happens, I will report that back here so you can see the difference in my initial approach, what I learned about the approach, how I iterated through the exercise, and then of course a brief discussion about my journey line in and of itself. Feedback is encouraged.

Keep in mind I am not currently being supervised by my scrum master so please forgive me if I go about this the wrong way 😉

45 minutes later…

Below you will see a snapshot of what my journey line looked like by the end of the exercise. My camera sucks, but not to worry. I am going to discuss the details of what I plotted out. I can’t imagine having done the exercise and not being able to talk about it. It was satisfying, validating, and surprisingly made me notice subtle little things that I have overlooked completely which is causing the quality of the work I put out into the world to be compromised. This exercise is showing me how to increase the quality and integrity of the products I should be working on. I’m impressed with the recommendation to do this. I can imagine it’s a great ice breaker in a team setting, but these exercises, I am now realizing, are essential to my growth as an individual. No joke, one of the yellow sticky notes talks about how I feel as if I matured as a man over these last few weeks by transcending everything I talked about in my previous post. Apparently, so much so that I notice the difference in my demeanor.

journey line

It took me about 30-45 minutes to complete the above Journey Line. I still need to discuss it with you, but I have some initial feedback on the process.

  • Several times during the process I paused for a moment of happiness – I have spent years writing about my work and I don’t think I have felt so much clarity as I did through this process. I am happy more so because I know how powerful the messaging can be if it’s presented visually.
  • My initial plans in the bullet list above didn’t fly, though. Once I started on the first year, 2007, there was no way I was going to limit myself to one event per year – it wasn’t even an option
  • I knew exactly which were the life changing events in each year. Perhaps because I have been telling the story for such a long time, but as you hopefully read in my previous post, I haven’t done a great job of conveying my value proposition
  • Next steps: at this point, the most important thing for me is to talk through the events and so that I can have a true first iteration of this artifact – I have ideas on how I want to digitize the timeline and integrate it into my website. However, I have already lost a few hours since I finished the exercise because it’s too complicated to fully bring online just yet – so I need to continue focusing on incremental progress. What’s the next increment look like for me to get closer to “done”?
    • Obstacle: I’m not sure how to talk through the timeline of events, record myself on video or audio, and what the best way to go about this is – the more I talk about the more I am wasting time.
      • Solution: I’m going to record my voice as I talk through the different events so I have the audio track at the very least upload to my SoundCloud – my first podcast will be happy to finally have some company

Future Blog Posts

1. Persona Development

While I was on Barry’s site I found this cool exercise that they’re using as an icebreaker. I am going to use at as an exercise for defining ideal customer profiles and user personas. As UX designer, one of the most challenging things to coach a client through is the process of defining user personas and understanding that their evolving needs are where we look for inspiration when it comes to product development. Look for this post soon!

2. Powerful Questions

My scrum master brought up this idea of powerful questions a few weeks ago. Now that I know she’s f ing smart as f I want to hear more about these questions of power. I don’t want to forget to ask her about it so I am including at the end of this post so you can remind me.

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