How to Write Great Requirements

After almost a year of procrastination, I finally took some time this past week and put together a presentation that I have uploaded to SlideShare with my thoughts on Writing Requirements.

Requirements are not hard to write but time and time again I see people get confused on the how they should write them, instead of the who they are writing them for, what are they writing and why are they writing them.

I put my thoughts together and here is what I came up with.

The Ask vs The Tell

Whether your in a position of authority or leadership or simply the gal whose been assigned to get a task done where whatever little bit of authority you have could be gone tomorrow when you move onto the next project the question is always the same – should I ask or should I tell?

One could argue that the end “task completion” result will always be higher when you tell someone what to do, after all you’ve told them to “do it”, the result will be that they “did it”.

On the other hand, when you ask for help or ask for someone to “do something” the results will vary, there could be some resistance and questions – “Why are you asking me to do this?”, “What is our end goal?”.  When you ask someone, you are opening up the problem to them to contribute to it in a way that you might not have thought of, you are asking them to come to the table with ideas and brainstorming, not end-game implementation.  When you ask someone, you are seeking their opinion in how to get from A to B and when you ask someone, you are now making the problem shared between the two of you.

There are scenarios where you do need to tell someone do to something (“house is burning, get out”), but in most cases, in our professional lives, the ask is more what we should be about, even in positions of authority, asking someone for help or their thoughts on a problem will always yield results that are greater than the end implementation.

And at the end of the day, wouldn’t we all rather be asked to do something versus being told to do it?

Go Deep

One post I wrote about a few weeks ago whilst doing my altMBA was more of a reminder to myself, but I think it bears mentioning across everything we do.

When the problems are large and heavy, we all have a tendency to glaze over them at first glance, perhaps become – “knowledgeable in a lot of things, but not really having deep understanding in a few things” – you know, get a gist for what is happening, not fully delve into it.

In everything you do, go Deep, dig down, take the problem and twist it on it’s head until you understand it from every angle.  It’s only at that point in time that you’ll really start to get a glimmer into you how to build the solution.

If you’ve ever seen the TV show Heroes, you’ll know there was this guy the Haitian who could erase your memories.  Thinking on this, this is what I need to start doing more of.  Don’t watch the whole thing, just queue it up to 4:26, it’s 10 seconds and then you can stop watching (unless of course you like this show, watch the whole thing).

Go Deep.

On Travelling and Customs

Many airlines now push for us to use our phone for check-in and use as little paper as possible.  Even hotel and car bookings can all be done electronically – give them your email address – get your booking information, time and date and pickup, how long you are staying, is there a pool in the hotel, etc, etc, etc.

All this push to do everything electronically.  

Sometimes I am not the person booking my own travel, if we travel in a group someone is nominated to get us a group rate or if it’s bundled with a conference, someone handle’s that so they know what is happening and sometimes I am just bad at it and not always on the lookout for the best deal – so it all comes to me electronically.  And sometimes I get very busy that I leave it all in my phone and might not pull it out until I need it the most.

Enter customs.

While waiting in line at an airport (not going to say which one), everyone was asked to shut down all their devices while we were waiting upwards of 30 minutes.  I didn’t mind the wait, I had tons of great reading material to catch up on.  What did strike me as odd was that all my information for my trip was on my phone and I wouldn’t be able to tell the customs agent where I was going.

Should I have read it sooner?  Maybe, but I am allowed to be in a rush no?

Should I have printed it out to have it advance with me?  Maybe, but that also defeat’s the purpose of saving trees?

Should I be able to show my bookings to customs from my phone so they can see where I am going along with my complete conference schedule, where I am staying, what booking number I am in, etc all from one view?  Perhaps from one view that they define and create as an application or something?

Now we’re trying to solve a problem – the problem of the customer trying to dance between two incompatible implementations.

altMBA – It’s Shipping Time

Thirty-One days ago I joined the altMBA class and today it ends.  It started off with a bang and end with a loud KABOOM!

Every week I felt like this gif of Kermit, typing furiously to ship once, twice and keep on shipping, day in and day out.  On top of that, I worked to keep up with all the reading on my plate as well as reading and contributing to others.  I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work, a lot of great work, and it was so worth it.  I have met some incredible people and learned a great deal along the way – about myself, what I want to do and how to get there.

I could go on and on about the difference concepts we worked through – goal setting, sunk costs, risk analysis, understanding your audience, connected economies, worldviews, etc, etc – and those were all great concepts to put a name to, but what I really got out of it can be boiled down to 3 key concepts.

  1. I have the time to ship, I just wasn’t making it.  The time is there, it’s been my choice not to use it, now it’s my choice to start using it and start shipping and not treat it as a monolithic achievement but almost as a daily affirmation – If you’re going to ship, ship daily.
  2. Resistance is Futile – It’s more than just the many concepts that define this of Lizard Brain, resistance, etc – it’s what we personally fight against the most that stops us all from creating something new and putting it out there for all to display.
  3. Fail and Fail Hard – The absolute best part of the program is the concept 360 degree feedback you get almost daily from your peers and that you give.  There were days when I finished prompts thinking I’d blown it but then it turned out it wasn’t so bad and I just needed to tweak my approach a bit.  Fall down 7 times, stand up 8 – that’s what really counts.

As has been said many times this week in our prompts, SLACK conversations and ZOOM calls – “It’s not the end, it’s the beginning of the next journey”.  If you are interested in learning more about the altMBA program, feel free to message me and/or check out the website, fall classes start… well… in the fall.