Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thought for the day: Interactive Documentation, Otherwise Known as a Play

Last week, I was at the OOP in Munich and attended Linda Rising's Workshop on Fearless Change. While we learned many interesting things about patterns for effecting change in an organization, one story really stood out:
"We developed an application using patterns and we thought that would help us hand over the application to the maintenance group.

"So we sent them the code. They didn't understand. Hmm. OK, Let's try writing some documentation. So we write some documentation. They still didn't understand. OK, let's try giving them some training. So we trained them. Better, but they still didn't get it. Hmm. What now?

"Despair, desperation.

"Someone in my group came up with the idea of doing a play, to explain the roles. So we all put on silly hats and acted out the architecture. 'I am the dispatcher and forward requests to interested parties.' 'I am a user agent, I submit requests on behalf of a user' etc. Lacking a better idea, we tried it!"
How did it work?

The other team reported, "We didn't like it -- we felt silly wearing the hats. And why you needed to put on a play to explain something so simple as your server architecture, I do not understand".

Kind of new twist on learning by doing... and we all know that is terrific way to learn. Could be a new application for youtube...


H.-P. Korn said...

Yes - I can confirm: "DOING" and "PROBING" is a much more powerful tool then to "talk about" or "to explain".
Here you can find a lot about this:

And here:
starting with page 10 you find a real case how to use such techniques to develop a product strategy in the field of data warehousing.
(To open the document please send a mail to docrequest@korn.ch
to receive the password for free)

Cheers, Hans-Peter