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Achieving Consensus in Business Requirements
Elicitation Meetings
Making sure that you define the Right Problem before attempting to resolve it
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
1
Achieving Consensus on and Quality of
Business Requirements
• The quality of Business Requirements has a
fundamental influence on a project’s ability to
properly control the entire engineering process.
• Changes to Business Requirements impact
project plans, activities, and work products.
• Achieving consensus on and high quality of
Business Requirements early in the SDLC greatly
reduces the probability of making disruptive
changes to engineering process activities in
response to inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous,
or conflicting Business Requirements.
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
2
Business Requirements Elicitation
Sessions
• Business Requirements Elicitation Sessions are
aimed at leading a group into discovering and
documenting Business Requirements that are:
accurate, complete (or very close to),
unambiguous, and consistent.
• Success factors for such sessions depend on:
– Including the right participants
– Properly managing conflict among participants during
the session
– Properly capturing and communicating the decisions
made during the session
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
3
Conflicts in Requirements Elicitation
Meetings
• Conflict naturally arise from the following
predispositions of meeting participants [H.
Kurstedt, 2000]:
–
–
–
–
–
Different backgrounds
Different personalities
Different goals
Different opinions
Different expectations
• Some meeting participants may not be aware of
the existence of a conflict unless it is explicitly
addressed and properly managed
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
4
Conflicts in Requirements Elicitation
Meetings
• Mismanaged conflict can induce the following
in meeting participants [H. Kurstedt, 2000]:
– Reduce tolerance among group members
– Reduce commitment or support to final decisions
– Reduce trust among group members
– Reduce the amount of information shared among
group members
– Reduce the quality of the group decision
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
5
Conflict Resolution Styles [H. Kurstedt, 2000]
Common English
Phrase
Conflict Resolution
Style
Examples
“Leave well enough
alone”
Avoidance
-Diffusion
-Resignation
-Cover-up
-Isolation
-Withdrawal
-Indifference
-Refusal
“Kill your enemies with Accommodation
kindness”
-Giving in
-Smoothing
“Split the difference”
Compromise
-Negotiation
-Arbitration
“Two heads are better
than one”
Collaboration
-Logical reasoning
-Cooperation
Our Preference
“Might makes right”
Competition
-Fighting
-Forcing
-Overpowering
-Confronting
Use only
when needed
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
6
Conflict Resolution Strategy by types
of situation [H. Kurstedt, 2000]
Social Conflict
(irrational,
emotional)
Competitive Conflict
Resolution
Collaborative Conflict
Resolution
Task Conflict (rational,
logical, factual)
-For emergencies
-When unpopular actions
need to be implemented
-To protect yourself from
other taking advantage of
non competitive behavior
-To reduce
hostility between
groups
-To refocus the
group on the task
again
-When meeting purpose is
complex
-To gain commitment
-To Increase critical thinking
-To Increase strength of
consensus
-To Increase decision quality
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
7
Collaborative Conflict Management
• Collaborative conflict management is best
when:
– There is sufficient time for making decisions
– Information can be shared in a non-threatening
environment
• Collaborative conflict management allows:
– Producing a shared understanding of information
– A high degree of group satisfaction
– Win/win situations
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
8
Steps to Strong Consensus and High
Decision Quality [H. Kurstedt, 2000]:
• 1 -Inform group members prior to meeting that they
are expected to collaborate
• 2-Plan informal ice-breakers before consensus meeting
starts
• 3-Use structured conflict techniques
• 4-Establish an incentive structure (reward for
collaborating)
• 5-Anticipate social conflicts and quickly resolve them
• 6-Make provision for sufficient meeting time to focus
on task conflict
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
9
Hall’s Consensus Guidelines
• “Avoid arguing for your own rankings. Present
your position as lucidly and logically as
possible, but listen to the other member’s
reactions and consider them carefully before
you press your point.”
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
10
Hall’s Consensus Guidelines
• “Do not assume that someone must lose
when the discussion reaches a stalemate.
Instead, look for the next-most-acceptable
alternative for all parties.”
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
11
Hall’s Consensus Guidelines
• “Do not change your mind simply to avoid
conflict and reach agreement and harmony.
When agreement seems to come too quickly
and easily, be suspicious. Explore the reasons
and be sure everyone accepts the solution for
basically similar or complementary reasons.
Yield only to positions that have objective and
logically sound foundations.”
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
12
Hall’s Consensus Guidelines
• “Avoid conflict-reducing techniques such as
majority vote, averages, coin flips, and
bargaining. When a dissenting member finally
agrees, don’t feel that he or she must be
rewarded by having his or her own way on
some later point.”
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
13
Hall’s Consensus Guidelines
• “Differences of opinions are natural and
expected. Seek them out and try to involve
everyone in the decision process.
Disagreements can help the group’s decision
because, with a wide range of information and
opinions, there is a greater chance that the
group will hit upon more adequate solutions.”
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
14
Contact Didier at Pragmatic Cohesion Consulting to conduct
effective Business Requirements Elicitation meetings using
Industry’s Best Practices
http://pragmaticohesion.com/
Copyright (c) 2010-2013 Pragmatic Cohesion
Consulting
15
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