Ask extreme questions

Recently I’ve been involved in a conversation with a business analyser who is passionate of Agile but still need time to understand Agile values and principles better. The conversation is about how to get the business requirements.

At the moment, team is struggling to keep the stories to align with business values. And also because of the complexity of the system, team is also struggling to see the whole picture. So, in order to help team to shape the product backlog, this BA was keeping on asking the product owner to provide business requirements. And the product owner felt very difficult to do that because of uncertainties. When I’ve been involved, I asked BA why she required business requirements because everyone interpreted that request as specification document. She said that would help the team to see the whole picture. And then I asked her what kinds of artefacts she expected to get, she mentioned about some documents on company’s wiki site. Then the conversation became difficult when I tried to explain that the best way to communicate the detail requirements is to engage the team to have the face-to-face conversation with business stakeholders. And the documents can be used to capture knowledge/agreement we get from the conversation. She appreciated my point but still considered the document were mandatory before engaging the whole team in a conversation.

I felt a little bit frustrated about the conversation till a question came to my head. Then I asked her, “How will you get the requirements if the only tools on hands are just pens and paper and there were no computers, wiki, MS Word and etc.?”  She said “I will write them down on paper”. Then I asked “How many pages do you expect to write for that document?” She said, “Just around 2 pages with some bullet items list about the requirements.” From then on, the conversation became more easier because she agreed that those bullet items were quite like user stories and we could create user stories and set up story mapping to help the team to see the big picture.

What I learnt?

First I should not assume the term of requirement document is about big upfront specification documents. Sometimes people will use some terms they are familiar with to explain the different things. I should verify it further about what its exact meaning is.

Second, it is quite usual that people will try to solve a problem with their previous experiences. Use some extreme questions will help them to think about alternative ways. For example, team might feel it is very difficult to get things done in a timebox iteration, questions like “How will we showcase to business in one-day iteration?” will help the team to think about what are the wastes in current process and how to eliminate all of them.

Why I installed Spotify on my phone

Today I downloaded Spotify to my Nexus 6 finally. Actually I haven’t really want to install another music app previously because I have had one -NetEast Music which is also a very good music app. So why I finally installed it today?

Today I received an email from another coach about how Spotify organized a great hackthon successfully (Diversify – Creating a Hackathon with 50/50 Female and Male Participants),  in that blog, there is a playlist link of all the musics added by that hackthon’s attendees. As a music lover, I opened it in Spotify web player, and then because of curiosity I entered the home of player. When I went through it I found something that really caught my eyes what are the music categories based on some life scenario, e.g., Dinner. Why it is so attractive to me? Because every time when I tried to play some musics during the dinner time with my family, it always a little bit challenge to me to find proper one especially that we don’t like to listen to the same playlist all the time. This feature, which Spotify provided, is exactly what I need and driven me to install it on my phone immediately and I will give it a try tonight. It is so impressive to me for this feature. I think the product owner of Spotify must be a very insightful person and they can dig the customers’ real needs from very small things.
Lot of time when people are talking about innovation, it is always about some BIG ideas, something that can change the whole world. But most of cases, the succeed innovations are from small changes. The change that can make people’s life better. Apple which might be the most innovative company in recent decade is not the one that invented the mp3, mobile and touch screen. But she is so successful till now is because she make it so simple and easy for people to play with it and make it a lot of fun to use their product. Also even more important, to make people feel different with others.
Innovation needs empathy and insights for humanity. To be innovative you can’t just look at the world with your eyes but more important you need to connect the world with your heart.