Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whac A Mole ideation sessions

Have you ever been in a brainstorming session where every idea that gets proposed is quickly beaten down by some of the participants? These are what I call "Whac A Mole" sessions, by analogy with the popular arcade game of the same name in which players score points for beating down mechanical moles as they pop up from their holes in the ground.

As we know, good initial brainstorming sessions try to generate a large quantity of high quality ideas, with judgment deferred on each idea until later rounds of refinement. That's a simplification of the ideation process, but you'd be amazed how quickly people join in with others to play whack a mole on new ideas.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Requirement: the Devil's Definition

"Requirement (n): the absolute minimum amount of information necessary to get a developer to start writing code for a desired function."

A bit cynical, sure, but it captures the essense of a lot of "requirements" I see thrown around in project meetings. The assumption here by business people is that the sooner the developers start coding, the sooner they'll be finished. Another unspoken assumption is that the developers' time is a lot less valuable than the business person's. Experienced developers push back and ask for something resembling a so-called "SMART requirement." New developers just start hacking, with predictable results.