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Digital Strategy, Digital Transformation • 8 min read

Breaking down the walls with a storm

Femke den Ouden | 11-12-2019

Halfway designing a new fancy digital experience, you trip over some technical impossibilities that completely messes up your teams' amazing ideas. Resulting in mounting pressure on the project, frustrated designers and clients on the fence. Sounds familiar? Event storming can prevent this scenario by rapidly exploring business domains.

To create (digital) products and services that really work you’ll need to cooperate closely with different disciplines in and outside of your team. What is easier for IT may make the marketer's life harder. And vice versa. That’s why you better break down existing walls as soon as possible! As a group modelling technique, event storming can help you do so.

EVENT STORMING & PRODUCT DESIGN

Femke den Ouden, digital strategy consultant at Osudio, dove into the possibilities and advantages of this method for designing interfaces instead of designing software. She joined a two-day Masterclass Event Storming led by Alberto Brandolini, the inventor of the technique. His workshop-based method consists of two days and is typically held in a room decorated with a nineteen-meter long white piece of paper, huge stacks of orange post-its, marker pens and other creative material. As a workshop facilitator and a creative hobbyist, Femke felt right at home.

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DAY ONE: DISCOVERY

First, Alberto explained his method. Event storming is a workshop-based approach to quickly find out what is happening in the business domain of a software program. By bringing software developers and domain experts together, business process modelling and requirements engineering become more interesting and fun. With clear steps and easy to apply rules, the first day is structured relatively simple. Ideally, the group is made up of all the needed disciplines. With all the attendees committed to the approach, they dropped the walls between their expertises and delivered their input. Vital to the whole process is firm moderation, which Alberto diligently provided.

DAY TWO: SOFTWARE MODELLING

The second day is meant for software modelling. In this article, we mostly discuss the first day of the event storm. Do you want to know more about the method? Check out the dedicated website. 

DIFFERENT GOALS? CONSIDER ALL PERSPECTIVES!

As a product designer or strategist, you want to create seamless, impressive experiences that are fulfilling. To succeed in this, you’ll need three main ingredients: technology, business and design. Integrating these three is what founds your success.

To create meaningful products and services, you need a relentless focus on great end-2-end consumer experience. To do so, the input and close cooperation of multiple disciplines is vital. It's time to start breaking down internal walls. So, the IT department should cooperate with business, HRM with finance, marketing with operations. All that is pretty complex, because people will be people.

This holistic way of working is, of course, essential for every brand, company, or organization. One of the ways to achieve this is mapping and knowing the expert knowledge of internal stakeholders in advance. Based on that, you can quickly identify the areas that need extra focus in your solution, research and designs. 

This refers to the concept that the quality of the process or cooperation is equally important as the creative input, a concept shared by Tim Browne (IDEO) among others. Being a designer or strategist in this period is exciting, yet challenging. There are many new aspects to take into account, and design is much more than aesthetics alone.

COMBINED EXPERTISE

Before joining Osudio, Femke was Digital Transformation Officer in the Dutch energy sector. This experience taught her the importance of understanding and utilizing stakeholders as soon as possible. In every organization, there is always tremendous pressure to deliver and ship fast. However, without complete information and stakeholder support, this will still be one of the big showstoppers. For structural success, the commitment, input, and ownership from stakeholders are strongly demanded.

THE STRATEGY TOOLBOX

The methodology of event storming is an exciting addition to the set of tools already available. Originating originally from Domain-Driven Design, event storming helps organizations to model complex software solutions.

From a strategic point of view, event storming has the potential to be used as a pressure cooker. By gathering all the needed expertise and disciplines in one physical space for at least one day, understanding between people and disciplines is quickly shared and improved. This can then be applied to identify complex areas and conflicting interests in an apparent and tangible way. Essential to event storming is an open attitude, honesty and cooperative behavior.

The concrete deliverable of an event storm can be relatively simple and condensed. In some cases, an A4 with a drawing of the needed IT architecture suffices. Most of the time, you leave the room with the same definition of the problem you are trying to solve at the beginning of a project or product. After that? Simply repeat when needed. 

THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Event storming is an excellent tool to flag possible pitfalls and proactively address conflicts of interest. It helps to take all the design thinking-based next steps afterward more efficient and faster. As with all tools and methods, it's essential to apply event storming effectively. Make sure you have ownership within the organization. Take time to get all the right people in the session together. Start doing it, and don't be afraid to do it again when it's needed. Last tip: always bring enough orange post-its!

Want to learn more about event storming and the author Alberto Brandolini? Visit his website and find his book here

Picture of Femke den Ouden

Femke den Ouden

Strategy Consultant

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