Do you know code kata? You have a problem and try to code a solution. Well, here, you design it. Hence, you get to be an ARCHITECT.
Why it’s interesting?
Because it’s not always when you get to play a decision maker and without practice it’s hard to be great. Even with huge natural latent talent. Competing with other groups will keep you at your toes and hearing ideas from other in your groups will make you appreciate different perspectives. Finally – you will have instant verification of all your ideas – since you will see how many other groups are jealous… or dismissive!
All in all? Because you WILL grow.
What is it?
A designing exercise where facilitator (client) has a particular problem. Participants – in groups – try to understand this problem and design a solution that meets all requirements, functional and non-functional alike. Examples of problems (that were used, so will NOT appear), include: SMS campaign system, integrating many different and large e-commerce systems, creating an event platform capable of hosting many different event kinds.
How it happens?
Event is split in phases.
Phase 1 is introduction. Facilitator explains workshop rules, then participants form groups and workshop may start.
Phase 2: problem unveiled!
Facilitator presents the problem and – as a client, so not necessarily technical person! – answers questions. Phase includes short problem discussion.
Phase 3: design!
Working in groups, using pen, paper and your minds, you try to come up with a system that solves the problem client has, meeting his requirements.
Phase 4: presentation!
All groups present their design and defend them before questions (and sometimes even a question barrage!). Everybody gets to ask questions. Phase is important, because it’s not enough to have good design, you need to convince others it really is good!
Phase 5: voting
Each design is summed up and everybody votes for designs which really solve the problem.
Facilitator pronounces the winner.
Phase 6: retrospective.
Summary of common mistakes, good strategies or moves, best ideas and why and comparison to other katas. Also, discussion about the workshop itself.
I’ll try to write some experiences I had here, as examples. So far, I’ve conducted this in many different places (though not outside of Europe – yet?) and for quite different groups. And… it’s universally liked.