Rachel M. Carmena

Having conversations

This post has 2 different parts. Firstly, I talk about the power of the conversations. Secondly, I give an idea to have useful conversations.

The power of the conversations

I’ve participated in meetings to estimate tasks following Planning Poker. Sometimes, using the original cards. Other times, using other type of cards (for example, T-Shirt sizes).

I hardly saw an accurate estimation. However, I had very interesting conversations during those meetings:

  • To understand the needs or the problem
  • To divide, order or change the tasks

I remember this situation when I was 5-6 years old.

At night:

Me: Mum, please, water!

My mother: Here you are.

Another day:

Me: Mum, please, water!

[a few minutes later]

My mother: Here you are, my child, my child, your water.

Me: Oh, mum, I fell asleep…

Another day:

Me: Mum! Please, I cannot fall asleep. Can we play a game? I ask you for water, but you don’t come. So, I will fall asleep as it happened the other day.

My mother: What?

So, can we play a game? Can you ask us for an estimation? But you don’t really want that estimation. You only want us to have a conversation to get valuable information.

An idea to have useful conversations

A conversation can be a mess when each person has a different thing in mind. We cannot read the mind, so it’s very useful to draw the ideas on a paper or a board.

I don’t know how to draw my idea

In order to face that situation, I find it very useful to know some notation or language to get graphical representations. I like to use BPMN or UML depending on the goal.

A few days ago, Ivar Jacobson, one of the creators of UML, wrote an article about it: Rumors of the death of UML are all false. I love these sentences:

No doubt that UML contains many very useful diagrams when discussing software architecture.

Sequence Diagrams are one of my favourites.

(…) if UML is used in a smart way it really helps the teams to understand where they are heading.