How can you expect someone to fully grasp the context and content of an output without a conversation? In this episode, we discuss the common behavior of creating an output and throwing it over the wall to another team.
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I’m seeing a growing tendency for people to create an output such as a requirements document and then throw it over the wall to another team. What I mean by that expression is to pass an output to another person or team without having a conversation about the true intent of that output.
We often mistakenly see our role as a documenter. Someone who creates some type of output for another team to develop a solution or achieve a goal.
Unfortunately, this leads to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and missed expectations.
Instead of creating an output and throwing it over the wall, we need to break down that wall. Weneed to step out of organizational silos and create a shared understanding.
But that’s only the first step. Where we get the real benefit is when we shift our thinking. We need to adopt a different mindset. Instead of seeing ourselves as documenters, liaisons, or translators, we need to focus on outcomes versus outputs.
Past guest Kupe Kupersmith talks about #NoRequirements. Instead of requirements, work to understand the real business problem and create a shared understanding. Do what is necessary to achieve the right business outcome.
It’s Not About the Outputs
Your customers don’t care if you’ve created a beautifully crafted business requirements document. What they care about is whether or not you’ve solved their problem. The right problem!
Even if you have some type of outputs that help you find the right problem to solve and help others in the organization to identify the right solution, you can’t blindly pass those outputs to another team.
I see this often with business requirements documents, process flows, and even user stories. We even point people to a repository to get information they request. Here again you’re missing the real value you can provide and we fail to create a shared understanding.
With business requirements documents, we sometimes write the requirements and even have a walk-through. But we fail to convey the intent of those requirements. We fail to gain alignment. We fail to create buy-in and engagement.
The written word is a terrible way to convey complex information. If you’ve ever seen a slide deck from a presentation that you didn’t attend, you know that you don’t grasp the true meaning of what was trying to be shared.
With user stories, I’ve seen many teams write stories for other teams and simply assign ownership to that story in Jira. People who do this miss the point of user stories.
Jeff Patton has famously said “if you’re not having a conversation, you’re not using user stories”.
This is especially critical because user stories are so concise. They are merely a reminder of a conversation you’ve already had or a token to have a conversation in the future.
If you’re passing user stories to another team using Jira and not having a conversation, your chances of success are zero.
Yes; you may need to create documentation. And yes; you may need to hand that documentation off to another team to create a viable solution. But if you do that without having a conversation, without creating a shared understanding, you’re not fulfilling an organizational need. In fact, you’re increasing organizational risk and increasing the odds of failure.
Once you believe your goal is to create the right business outcomes, break down silos, and create a shared understanding, now you have a real team. Now you have a group of people aligned to a single goal. And now we can discover the real problem and solve it with the best solution possible.Listen to the full episode for more ways to reduce missing requirements and their impact.
Listen to the full episode to find out more.
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