Walking Over London

Photo taken from Sean Stayte’s photostream under Creative Commons.

Its Purpose?
Big Vision Business Problem helps team members form a common understanding of the problem they are trying to solve. It introduces them to a number of high level domain concepts and puts the work they will do into an overall context. The Big Vision Business Problem must be driven by a real Business Need.

How Did We Execute It?
The entire team sat down at the start of the project, and using a whiteboard, we started drawing people (represented as stick figures), systems (as boxes) and talked through a number of workflows. We incorporated both technical and non technical systems as we talked about the needs of the users, how the system satisfies or doesn’t satisfy those needs and how they interact. We kept mainly to the main “happy flow” or the “common walkflow” through the system because it is such a big system.

Techniques Found Useful For Running It

  • Personas – We leverage personas a great deal during requirements gathering, and found this same technique helps new people grasp with the system for many of the same reasons. Giving a name to a person playing a role in the overall business problem is much easier to understand than simply labelling them with that role.
  • Physical Diagrams – Talking over a set of boxes at a high level and seeing the users interact with each box helps give context to what is really going on.
  • Whiteboard – Nice big diagrams are great, but simple lo-fi diagrams that you can edit in response to people’s questions and around discussions is much easier

Why Is It Important?
Putting people’s work into context is important for me, and by talking over the business problem as a team, helps people understand what it is they are contributing to. Technical solutions may seem strange and may appear clearer if people understand the business constraints. It also allows people to offer alternative solutions that might be more practical and less costly. I can imagine that if you are having difficulty expressing the business problem, perhaps there is no problem, or it needs to be simplified or clarified as people focus their energies on work that may not contribute to solving the same overall problem.

Next Time I Might Try:

  • Taking and Showing Photos – Could be quite useful for showing people using the system
  • Drawing a Timeline – Doing a simple walkthrough over a well spaced out timeline to discuss stages of an older system, and what the business would like to achieve in the future.