Yesterday we had our first Event Storming workshop with the team at the office and I wanted to write up some of my thoughts and opinions on how it went. I ran a “big picture” session within a two hour time box in order to trial Event Storming within the business; the plan was that we would focus on events and hot spots only in order to fit within the time box. Overall I felt like it all went smoothly and everyone agreed that it was valuable.

The Attendees

We had invited three key domain experts (unfortunately one couldn’t attend) and the full development team. We had:

  • One facilitator (me)
  • Managing director
  • Account manager with many years experience in the domain
  • Three developers
  • Two designers
  • One product owner
  • One automation tester (or whatever she wants to be called, I’m sure she will correct me)

So in total we had ten people which was a reasonably large group but everyone had something to gain from the workshop so it was worth inviting them.

The Beginning

We had booked the meeting room for longer than the event storming session was scheduled for. This gave me the opportunity to go in and get the room in order; I arranged the chairs so no one had their back to the modeling surface (apparently I should have removed them), I drew up a key of the events and laid out the post-its and markers. I also added an indicator of the flow of time within our model.

When everyone eventually arrived (we had some stragglers) I kicked the meeting off by giving a very brief explanation of what we would be doing over the next couple of hours and explained the key I had written up. I had pre-planned a starting position, roughly in the middle of the timeline, to begin the workshop from and then I added the first event myself. To my delight it was immediately questioned: “Is that really what happens?”. This served as a good place to initiate the first conversations between the group.

It felt like there was some initial hesitance to put up events at the very start but I had organised with some of the attendees for them to act as icebreakers to put up some events which really got the ball and it wasn’t long before the events were flying in.

The Middle

From a facilitating position there wasn’t a lot to do in the middle of the session; the workshop was practically running itself with everyone being very engaged in the process and I was able to easily focus on documenting hotspots. At the half-way point in the session I decided to change the area we were exploring in order to focus on the reverse narrative which built up to our starting position. This happened very quickly and easily and it wasn’t long before the first half of our modeling surface was covered with post-its with questions and conversations occurring naturally.

It was interesting that we encountered some topics where our domain experts disagreed with each other which resulted in lots of interesting discussions.

The End

Towards the end of the workshop we were really in the flow of things. I was being very aware that the end of our time box was approaching and was keen to ensure we end on time rather than having the meeting run on forever. I had a couple of times where I needed to try and cut short some conversations in order to move forward.

Once we were finished I asked for opinions on the workshop and everyone agreed that it was very useful. We are now thinking about when we will do our next workshop and what we will focus on.

I then sent a company-wide message out offering to discuss the workshop with anyone who wasn’t involved in order to try and get some wider interest in the hopes of maybe involving some other people in the future. I only had one person ask me about it but that’s better than none.

Retrospective

What went well?

  • Engagement from technical and domain experts was good
  • Designated icebreakers worked well to get the flow going
  • Everyone wants to do it again
  • Attended by two key domain experts

What could be improved?

  • Banning phones and laptops
  • Defining a time box for specific conversations up front
  • Defining the workshop schedule up front
  • Getting correct colour of post-its - we had to make up some conventions to deal with the lack of colours
  • Limiting conversations to one at a time - we had some instances of multiple conversations at once