11 - 13 May 2016

thestudio, Manchester, UK

The Lego requirements document

Jon McNestrie Northern Shore Consulting

Session type: Hands-On
Session duration: 90 minutes

About this Hands-On

The intention of this workshop is to demonstrate the value of having an engaged product owner/customer who is close to the team delivering the software so that they can collaborate effectively. We'll work with pairs producing a couple of small Lego models. Lego models traditionally have quite effective instructions; we're instead going to look at 2 different ways of getting the requirements of what to build from our customers.

Part 1:

The teams will be presented with a very standard looking requirements document telling them how to build the Lego model. This will contain much of the normal kind of boilerplate text that you see in these kind of documents, including very detailed, broken down sections. This will be a translation of the instructions for the model into this format. The members of the team will not even see a picture of the finished model to work from.

The teams will have 15 minutes to try and construct the model. Despite the best efforts of the author of the document, the teams will struggle.

Part 2:

The teams will be presented with the ordinary Lego instructions. One member will describe what needs to be done while the other builds. In the same time frame, we will see much greater success, without the need for significant upfront work.


The goal is to demonstrate that having a customer or product owner able to explain what needs to be built and offer clarification in real time is of huge value. I will ask each team to give their feedback from the 2 rounds and discuss how the second round of collaboration-based building could have been improved. I will discuss with the teams the possibilities of having rounds/timeboxes (ie sprints) during the development to gather detailed feedback and how they feel that changes to the requirements could be tackled gracefully. We will also discuss the language that different teams have developed to communicate (eg 'the small pointy blue bit'!)

About the Speaker

Having worked as a developer, team leader, architect, project manager and all round software consultant for many of the IT companies in the North East of England, Jon has gained a lot of experience in building and developing software teams and delivery and knowing what works and what doesn't.

He now works as an agile coach, consultant and trainer helping local firms and larger organisations to transform their businesses. Also the founder and organiser of the Agile North East meetup group, Jon often speaks there or can be found trying to find more opportunities to run workshops using Lego to help people learn!


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