About markus

Consultant at Zühlke in Switzerland. HCI, Requirements, Agile and other software engineering, user centred innovation.

User centred business analysis – a sports event management system

Currently, I’m involved in a project to develop an event management system for large sports events. The goal is to replace a few existing systems with one integrated system that is able to cater for the coming needs. The project will last for about five years. The project team will grow to approximately 20 persons. We apply an agile unified process.  

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Part 1: Understanding business is a success factor. We use methods from user centred design rather than from business modeling.

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“Planning poker? Not again!”

A few days ago, we had a discussion about Scrum and one person asked the question if it really isn’t possible to run effective estimation meetings with 16! persons involved. If you have an answer ready, wait. Once the problem becomes clearer, the solution is getting more interesting. It may rather be a question of maturity than of team size. 

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I’ve to look where there is light

In Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, there lived the popular character known as Dällebach Kari (died 1931). Even so his time is almost 80 years past, he is still remembered for many things, one of which was his pointed humor. Here is one anectode in the category practical philosophy:

One night two cops came across Dällebach Kari searching for something in the light of a street lamp. “Hey, Kari, what are you searching for”, they inquired. “I lost my chewing gum over there”, Dällebach Kari replied pointing towards a dark corner on the other side of a bridge. The two policemen were a bit lost and scratching their heads they wondered, “well, why are you searching here, then?”. “Because, obviously, I have to search where there is light”, was the reply.

So: can you spot the relevance to software projects?

Why Joey taped a picture of a cake to his wall

If you ever tried to propose an idea to somebody, you have certainly experienced a few personalities, like Joey has in this story. And after having met them Joey, for example, felt the urge to pin a picture of a cake in a sunset to his cubicle walls. For others, this is not sufficient and they have to create a lengthy comic strip. 

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Four skills of innovative companies

Innovative climate! Creativity methods! Excellent people! Agile! Leadership! Crowd innovation! Strategy! These is just some of the good advice found on the Internet on how to make a company more innovative. But there can be a bit more structure to such advice: four skills. Continue reading

Maturity tools for product owners

Pin the maturity cards on the wall. Ask how well do we foresee the change we’re going to inflict with the planned features. “Customers will love it”, the engineer proclaims putting the features on tree level. The sales rep sourly adds: “If they’ll ever grasp it”, moving them up into the clouds.

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Increase productivity with a Speed Creation session

In large and distributed companies the knowledge is spread. Experts come from different locations and subsidiaries. These experts often work in several projects simultaneously. This leads to an efficiency loss and long product development cycles. What if there is a way to get rid of dozens bilateral and specialized division workshops and preparation meetings? The approach is called approach “Speed Creation”.

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Agile innovation from stars to road

Taking ideas from the stars as innovation onto the road can feel like being stomped by a heard of elephants. It’s people and trade-offs. Well, even while we’re quite a reasonable lot most of the day, we still do a few quite stupid things. Especially if interests, values, and opinions clash. Here’s an agile way to innovate.

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Collaboration – Buy or Lease?

Installment sales are great. Instead of spending the whole amount of money up-front – and save for it – you simply pay your monthly deposit. Still, someone will have to pay the interest and cover the risk involved, i.e. you, the buyer. Thus you trade the profit of having something right now with the higher costs. Did you realize, that this is an analogy to how we collaborate?

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How mature are your ideas?

Ask this question in a workshop to a round of engineers and product managers. After a few blank stares you will start hearing comments like “we’re ready to build it”, or “they’re pretty sound”, and “well, we actually have no idea what this is all about”. Quite often we hear completely different opinions about the same item. Try it yourself, it works. Stunning, isn’t it?

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