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Article: Eliciting Vision through Exercises and Games

The process of developing detailed requirements – or even a well-articulated vision – can be an excruciating process without the right facilitation techniques.  In a broken process the person gathering requirements doesn’t know what to ask and those who want the solution have a hard time articulating what they want and need because they don’t know how to share their thoughts with someone from the outside.

Facilitating a discussion takes skill and curiosity, however, in many cases that’s not enough to convey the richness of the desires of those who want the solution.  What’s needed is a framework for success.  Forming a framework based on the learnings of knowledge management for the last 20 years and instructional design of the last 50 or so years creates opportunities to gather requirements and vision more quickly and with greater vibrancy.

Fish and Water

If fish could talk and you asked them what water was like, how might they answer?  They’d probably answer the same way we’d answer about air.  “It’s the stuff you’re in.” Or perhaps, “It’s always there.”  Because fish have never known anything different, it would be hard for them to articulate an alternative reality.  Likewise, if a fish were trying to describe the properties of a house, it’s unlikely that they’d mention that it has to be something that will stay together in water – because from the point of view of the fish that is obvious.

This is the fundamental challenge of eliciting vision and requirements.  When you’re “in it” you can’t see it.  It’s up to the person gathering requirements to create an opportunity for the person with the knowledge and vision to get outside of their environment and their standard ways of thinking long enough to be able to communicate the obvious.

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