Big Picture workshop with EventStorming @ Uniplaces

4 minute read

Last Thursday I went to Uniplaces to facilitate a Big Picture workshop with EventStorming.

What is EventStorming and a Big Picture workshop?

EventStorming is a workshop format for quickly exploring complex business domains. – Alberto Brandolini

EventStorming has many variants and the Big Picture is one of them. The goal of a Big Picture workshop is to assess the knowledge of the business domain across multiple teams in the company to break the knowledge silos.

Running the workshop

Room Setup

The most important thing in this kind of workshop is to have a good room setup. For that to happen some key fundamentals have to be in place, which are:

  • Unlimited modelling surface
  • No chairs
  • Enough space for people to walk around and have conversations
  • Flip-chart to be used as a legend
  • Plenty of sticky notes and markers

Brief introduction and setting the workshop goals

The workshop started with me giving a brief introduction, by explaining the goals and the dynamics of the workshop. After that I introduced the first sticky note colour, the orange. The orange sticky note represents the business relevant domain events. The events are written in the past tense form and added in a chronological order in the modelling surface and it’s basically this.

The chaos

After a couple of minutes several orange sticky notes were already in the wall. There was a lot of chaos with people writing, pasting and moving around sticky notes. At this point, some conversations started, and one important action is to make sure that those conversations are recorded by adding sticky notes.

Organically introducing new sticky notes colours

Introducing all colours at once simply doesn’t work, it’s a lot of information for people to process and would only make the participants confused. So usually, from the workshops I’ve done as a participant, new sticky note colours are introduced when an opportunity arises. This way the participants understand better the goal of that colour.

Clean-up after the Chaos

After 45 minutes the orange sticky notes covered almost the entire wall. It was time to review them, remove duplicates, rewrite some, and move them back and forward to make the flow timeline more accurate.

The floor started to get some wrapped sticky notes (a good metric to see if the workshop was successful). While reviewing the sticky notes I noticed that there were mainly two personas in Uniplaces business flows. So I suggested to have two swim-lanes, one per each persona, this way we would gain some space to be able to map both flows without running out of modelling surface.

While adding the two swim-lanes a big discussion popped up, what are we going to call the first and the second swim-lanes? Guest/Student? Accommodation Provider/Landlord?

This is one of the most important things of an EventStorming workshop, getting all departments to speak the same language, the called Ubiquitous Language. With this discussions agreements have to be made and with them internal communication will improve.

After having the swim-lanes done, I asked participants to move stickies up or down depending to each persona they belong, and if there was the case it belongs to both of them then to duplicate the sticky note.

Narrative of the flows

After the clean-up it was time to do see if the flows were correct, so I asked for a volunteer to do the first flow Narrative.

The importance of this exercise is that everybody as to pay attention and see if the flow makes sense.

While doing it some will remember that something is missing and new sticky notes are added.

Another interesting part of this is that usually there are many sub-processes and with a half-day workshop it will be impossible to map everything, so choices have to be made. These choices are very important because it will demonstrate what is really core to the business.

Arrow Voting

The arrow voting system is basically the same as the Dot Voting system the difference is that instead of a dot we use an arrow in a sticky note for better visualisation.

The goal with this is to better point out problems, opportunities, and risks from the participants.

Wrapping Up

It was an intense half-day workshop with a lot of energy and collaboration from the participants. They were able to complete the two core flows for the business but also important were the conversations they had, the agreements on the language to be used and all the learning about the processes and the business.

For me, as a facilitator, it was a fantastic experience. The feedback from the participants was delightful. They enjoyed, they had fun, they learned a lot and they found it very valuable for them.

If you would like to do a workshop like this in your company don’t hesitate to contact me.

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