XP Days France 2008 part 2 – Interviews

Les neuf cases

Portia, Bernard and I ran the “Neuf cases pour bien comprendre son client“. In this session we use the “9 boxes” interview model from Solution Selling to gather the information to write User Stories. As you can see from the pictures, there were a lot of participants at the session. It seems that the Belgian chocolates convinced people to come.

Some people played the game outside, in the hall. Despite the heat and noise, everybody was really concentrated on the session, on interviewing their “customer”. When we saw how many people turned up, we moved the tables to the sides and let the participants sit in groups of 3 (customer-client-observer/referee). It would have been even better to move all the tables outside of the room, to have a bit more space and air.

Really getting to the problem at the heart of a project or co-creating a vision of the future is not easy. Doing it well, selling well, sets up a project for success. Doing it badly sets up the project for failure. If we didn’t understand wat the real problem was, or we forgot some impacted people we might deliver what’s asked, but not what’s needed. The most dangerous step is the co-creating of the future vision. It’s easy to get carried away and promise the customer something that can’t be delivered. That’s the way bad salespeople get bonuses and set up the implementation team for failure. It’s easy to remedy this problem: pay sales bonuses for succesfully delivered projects.

It is important to explore the “ideal” future with the customer. Don’t hold back too much, don’t think too quickly “that can’t work”. That’s an “idea killer“. In the “envisioning the future” column we should explore scary, innovative ideas. Let the customer (and yourself) be creative!

Portia and I will run this session again at Agile 2008 in August, on the “Chansons Fran├žaises” stage. See you there! I’ll write more about the “9 boxes” after we’ve done the session retrospective.

Drinks and dinner

After the session we quickly cleared away our stuff to go for drinks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to meet and talk to many people before dinner. I did meet some interesting new people, met a fellow jazz fan, met an agilist from Wallonia (we don’t get many at Belgian XP meetings and conferences) and had some brief chats with acquaintances from previous conferences. At the dinner table, most of the people knew each other, having worked together at several companies previously. We got some history behind the “minitel” system.

After dinner, a walk in the area to get some fresh air and relax, because tomorrow there’s another session: the first time we do “Real Options” in French. More about that later.

Neuf cases 1 Neuf cases 2Neuf cases 3

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