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The need to apply the stakeholder enabling principle in the workplace

Model With A Purpose. Many developers worry about whether their artifacts -- such as models, source code, or documents -- are detailed enough or if they are too detailed, or similarly if they are sufficiently accurate. What they're not doing is stepping back and asking why they're creating the artifact in the first place and who they are creating it for.

If you cannot identify why and for whom you are creating a model then why are you bothering to work on it all? Your first step is to identify a valid purpose for creating a model and the audience for that model, then based on that purpose and audience develop it to the point where it is both sufficiently accurate and sufficiently detailed.

Once a model has fulfilled its goals you're finished with it for now and should move on to something else, such as writing some code to show that the model works. This principle also applies to a change to an existing model: An important implication of this principle is that you need to know your audience, even when that audience is yourself.

For example, if you are creating a model for maintenance developers, what do they really need? Do they need a 500 page comprehensive document or would a 10 page overview of how everything works be sufficient?

Go talk to them and find out. M aximize Stakeholder ROI. Your project stakeholders are investing resources -- time, money, facilities, and so on -- to have software developed that meets their needs. Stakeholders deserve to invest their resources the best way possible and not to have resources frittered away by your team.

Furthermore, they deserve to have the final say in how those resources are invested or not invested. If it was your resources, would you want it any other way? Over time we realized that this term wasn't right because it sounded like we were saying you needed to maximize the amount of money spent, which wasn't the message. Every artifact that you create, and then decide to keep, will need to be maintained over time. If you decide to keep only three models then you clearly have less work to perform to support the same change, making you more agile because you are traveling lighter.

Every time you decide to keep a model you trade-off agility for the convenience of having that information available to your team in an abstract manner hence potentially enhancing communication within your team as well as with project stakeholders. Never underestimate the seriousness of this trade-off.

Someone trekking across the desert will benefit from a map, a hat, good boots, and a canteen of water they likely won't make it if they burden themselves with hundreds of gallons of water, a pack full of every piece of survival gear imaginable, and a collection of books about the desert. Similarly, a development team that decides to develop and maintain a detailed requirements document, a detailed collection of analysis models, a detailed collection of architectural models, and a detailed collection of design models will quickly discover they are spending the majority of their time updating documents instead of writing source code.

You potentially need to use multiple models to develop software because each model describes a single aspect of your software.

  • These provide continuous learning opportunities to be discussed by the group at the end of each meeting, whereby agreements on improvements in the management of subsequent meetings are agreed;
  • For one thing, this distinction may help you identify major omissions in strategy formulation and implementation;
  • Bringing together all the diverse views may be an iterative process, particularly for large scale decision making that may involve socio-economic factors;
  • At these workshops, stakeholders collaboratively developed ideas for new management measures to contribute to MSFD;
  • Have I identified any vulnerable points in either the strategy or its potential implementation?
  • Although these are still valid ideas which are not going away, but they just won't be considered "first order principles" anymore.

An important point is that you don't need to develop all of these models for any given system, but that depending on the exact nature of the software you are developing you will require at least a subset of the models. Different systems, different subsets. Just like every fixit job at home doesn't require you to use every tool available to you in your toolbox, over time the variety of jobs you perform will require you to use each tool at some point.

Just like you use some tools more than others, you will use some types of models more than others. The time between an action and the feedback on that action is critical. By working with other people on a model, particularly when you are working with a shared modeling technology such as a whiteboard, CRC cards, or essential modeling materials such as sticky notes you are obtaining near-instant feedback on your ideas.

Access Check

Working closely with your customer, to understand the requirements, to analyze those requirements, or to develop a user interface that meets their needs, provides opportunities for rapid feedback. As you develop you should assume that the simplest solution is the best solution. Don't overbuild your software, or in the case of AM don't depict additional features in your models that you don't need today. Have the courage that you don't need to over-model your system today, that you can model based on your existing requirements today and refactor your system in the future when your requirements evolve.

Keep your models as simple as possible. Requirements evolve over time. People's understanding of the requirements change over time.

Project stakeholders can change as your project moves forward, new people are added and existing ones can leave. Project stakeholders can change their viewpoints as well, potentially changing the goals and success criteria for your effort.

The implication is that your project's environment changes as your efforts progress, and that as a result your approach to development must reflect this reality. You need an agile approach to change management. An important concept to understand with respect to modeling is that you don't need to get it right the first time, in fact, it is very unlikely that you could do so even if you tried.

Furthermore, you do not need to capture every single detail in your models, you just need to get it good enough at the time.

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Instead of futilely trying to develop an all encompassing model at the start, you instead can put a stake in the ground by developing a small model, or perhaps a high-level model, and evolve it over time or simply discard it when you no longer need it in an incremental manner.

Nobody likes sloppy work. The goal of software development is to produce high-quality working software that meets the needs of your project stakeholders in an effective manner. The primary goal is not to produce extraneous documentation, extraneous management artifacts, or even models. Any activity that does not directly contribute to this goal should be questioned and avoided if it cannot be justified in this light.

Your project can still be considered a failure even when your team delivers a working system to your users — part of fulfilling the needs of your project stakeholders is to ensure that your system robust enough so that it can be extended over time.

As Alistair Cockburn likes to say, when you are playing the software development game your secondary goal is to setup to play the next game. Your next effort may be the development of the next major release of your system or it may simply be the operations and support of the current version you are building. To enable it you will not only want to develop quality software but also create just enough documentation and supporting materials so that the people playing the next game can be effective.

Factors that you need to consider include whether members of your existing team will be involved with the next effort, the nature of the next effort itself, and the importance of the next effort to your organization.

In short, when you are working on your system you need to keep an eye on the future. Any given model could have several ways to represent it. For example, a UI specification could be created using Post-It notes on a large sheet of paper an essential or low-fidelity prototypeas a sketch on paper or a whiteboard, as a "traditional" prototype built using a prototyping tool or programming language, or as a formal document including both a visual representation as well as a textual description of the UI.

An interesting implication is that a model does not need to be a document.

4.6 Stakeholders

Even a complex set of diagrams created using a CASE tool may not become part of a document, instead they are used as inputs into other artifacts, very likely source code, but never formalized as official documentation. The point is that you take advantage of the benefits of modeling without incurring the costs of creating and maintaining documentation.

Open And Honest Communication. People need to be free, and to perceive that they are free, to offer suggestions. This includes ideas pertaining to one or more models, perhaps someone has a new way to approach a portion of the design or has a new insight regarding a requirement; the delivery of bad news such as being behind schedule; or simply the current status of their work.

Open and honest communication enables people to make better decisions because the quality of the information that they are basing them on is more accurate.

Although these are still valid ideas which are not going away, but they just won't be considered "first order principles" anymore. I found over the years that as I training and mentored people in AMDD that I didn't need to discuss them very much for people to understand the approach. The principles which I removed are: