Tag Archives: ended

An exercise based on my PSL experience:The power of open-ended requirements

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Today I held a class in Scrum and Lean.

I was then able to test some of my learnings from the PSL class in a exercises I made up just the day before.

The results were almost too good.

I divided the class in two groups (consisting of about 6 people each) and told them that they in this exercise would do a drawing during silence, following a requirement I would hand out.  The would only have one minute to complete the drawing.

I provided them with a number pencils in red, green and blue and one big piece of paper each.  Then I handed out one paper with the requirements to each group and started a visible timer counting down 60 seconds.

One of the groups got the following requirement:

Draw a beutiful summer meadow with blue and red flowers in green grass, some cows and birds under a shining sun.

The other group got the following requirement:

 

Draw a beutiful summer meadow with

  • 10 blue flowers with 5 petals each
  • 5 blue flowers with 6 petals each
  • 13 red flowers with 6 petals each
  • 2 cows with 3 black spots

  • 1 cow with 5 black spots
  • 2 cows with 4 black spots
  • 2 birds to reside in the upper left corner
  • 3 birds in the middle
  • one sun to the right with 5 sun beams

Before reading further, look at there drawings here and guess which drawing was made by which group.


Well, as you might have guessed, the drawing to the left was made by the group that got the open-ended requirements and the drawing to the right was made by the group with a lot of specification detail.  And that drawing does’nt even comply to the base requirement; a summer meadow.

And the cows are, although rich in detail, on the wrong angels.  – The group behind the right drawing had such focus on implementing every detail of the requirements that they forgot the main purpose of the “assignemnt”, to draw a meadow.

Do you recognize that from software development ?  I for certain do, and I do remember how boring it have felt implementing over-specified requirements.  I just wanted to get it over with.  Which I think is a very natural reaction when you are left with no opportunity for your own creativity. Or worse, find out obscure ways to put in your creativity anyway, in ways that might yeild even worse solutions.

I felt that the class got the same “ah” experience as I did myself on the PSL class.

Once again I have to give my appreciation to Jerry Wienberg, Esther Derby and Johanna Rothman.

The Problem Solving Leadership class continues to make a huge impact on my life.

It is the most expensive class I ever spent my money on in terms of actual swedish kronas, but not a cost but truly profitable in terms of the leverage it has on my consulting.

If you are a consultant like me and work with teams and leaders I think you can do no better investment than attending the next PSL class. It will be held in late march, check it out and click here!