Before going through Agile training, the only involvement I’d had with IT departments was that of the typical non-IT employee. I submitted tickets for things that were broken, lost passwords, etc. I would work with the technical people to make something, make something work, or make something work differently, usually website- or CRM-focused. I never really understood what went into the process, or how to truly communicate what I wanted. So I would draw pictures – the only common language we shared.
Imagine my surprise when I arrive at a new job to learn I’m going to be going through Scrum (“What’s that?”) training to become a Product Owner.
Imagine my added surprise when I realized, three years later, that though I’m no longer using Agile Methodologies at the company I currently work at, I’ve unconsciously applied them to my method of communication.
In Agile requirements gathering, you are taught to write a requirement in a very specific way.
Part 1: "As a ________," Here, you are supposed to define your audience.
“As a consumer…”
“As a stakeholder…”
You are forced to take a step back to let the developer know whom they’re building this for.
Part 2: "…I would like ________ (to happen)…" This is the easy part. This is what we’re all used to communicating.
“…I want similar books to the ones I’ve already read, to be recommended to me on my account….”
“…I want a real-time report that tells me how many sales I’ve made...”
Part 3: "…, so that _______" This is the “why”. This is important so the developer can understand how your requirement will be used. What value does the consumer or stakeholder (or whomever) get out of it this development?
“…so I can easily find books to buy, by new authors in a similar genre.”
“…so I can check regularly to see if I’m on target to meet my sales goals.”
As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t used any of this in a couple of years. Or so I thought. I caught myself writing a standard e-mail asking for something, where I would normally only communicate Part 2. This time, without even thinking, I’d included the “who” and the “why”. So I got to thinking about how many times I’d done this without even realizing it. I’ve done it in meetings, when trying to explain something. I’ve turned it around on other people, to better understand what they were asking me for. I believe this has saved me a lot of time in exchanging multiple e-mails or preventing me from starting on a project but having to backtrack because I didn’t fully understand the need.
Little did I know this simple requirements gathering exercise would help me to become a better communicator overall.
By Tonya Cardinali
London came and went so quickly. I don't know it really even warrants a full blog post of its own. Also, things didn't quite work out as we'd planned. We'll see how this goes. At least you'll get some highlights.
We arrived around 1:00 p.m. We didn't do our research because we'd I'd been to London a few times before, and we'd banked on doing a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to get an overview. Little did we know, they only run until 5:00 p.m.. Once we ate and checked into the hotel, there wasn't even time to do the tour if we'd stayed on the bus for an entire round so we decided just to pick out some highlights and run with it.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza-The City, which was a nice room, nice size. The downside: Internet was a separate charge and there was literally only ONE available power outlet in the room, including the bathroom. No outlet in the bathroom? I found that strange.
For lunch, we walked across the street to The Black Friar, a historic English pub. The building is wedge-shaped and has been around since the 12th century. It was used as a monastery, a Parliament Chamber and changed hands a couple more times, before becoming the haunted pub, as it stands today. Supposedly the doors will open and close on their own, and glasses will move from one place to another as a way for their friendly ghost to make its presence known. If you're looking for traditional British pub food, this is a good spot.
Our first tourist destination was Big Ben. We hopped on the Tube and got off at an extraordinarily busy section of town, where people are all trying to get a look at the famous Houses of Parliament and the clock tower.
If you're at Big Ben, and turn about 180 degrees and look, you'll see the London Eye. Another tourist cluster. If you want to go up in the Eye, I highly recommend getting tickets in advance, to skip the line.
After a quick look at the London Eye, we went over to the Tower Bridge. This was both of our favorite site. The Tower Bridge is often mistaken as the London Bridge because it is more visually iconic than the London Bridge.
From there, we walked over to Covent Garden, just as the vendors were packing up for the evening. Then a few blocks away to Trafalgar Square. By this time, it was dark, and the fountains were lit up. We didn't have time, but the National Gallery is here as well. Across the street is a rooftop bar across the street at the Trafalgar Hotel, that is open during the warmer months, called Vista Bar.
The next morning, we got up and walked about seven minutes from the hotel, over to St. Paul's Cathedral before breakfast. It's definitely worth a look!
This next part is important: We used the last of our British pounds for breakfast, assuming we could use a credit card for our cab to the train station. Wrong, we were! Most of the taxis only accept cash and when we did finally find one that said they accepted credit, our cards were declined once we got to the station, causing us to miss our train to Paris. Luckily I asked to pay in Euros, and the driver accepted it at a not-so-good exchange rate. We were able to make the next train, which was a half hour later. Another thing to remember... If you're taking the Chunnel, you have to go through security at the station, so be there MORE THAN a half hour early, to be safe. We arrived a half hour early, on the dot. This is how we cut it so close.
Here are some additional worthwhile highlights we didn't have time for:
Hyde Park (This is where the famous Speakers' Corner is.)
If you're into shopping, Oxford Street is London 's most famous shopping destination.