Last month I described how to use Ikea instructions as a way to understand a process. This week I gave it a go in a proper workshop. I must admit to having some trepidation as to whether the metaphor would work but in the end it did. It got the group into a way of thinking as I wanted to focus on what it was trying to do rather than be obsessed with the application that it was currently using.
The paper instructions you get with Ikea’s flat packed furniture helps you to build the item you have bought through a simple process: Understand what the end product looks like; Know what bits you need to achieve this; Know where you are now and have a process to get from the beginning to the end.
My eldest daughter, who works for the retailer managed to get me some old copies of some instructions. They were for a Trofast bookcase, a range that I have never bought and not one of the most well known of names. Still, they served their purpose.
I started by describing what I was trying to do and how the Trofast instructions were going to help. I could have chosen other Ikea ranges but in Swedish the word trofast means faithful and so it turned out to be very appropriate.
All of those attending got the metaphor though it turned out that people have a problem differentiating between what they are trying to do and what they are trying to achieve. Several times I had to come back to Trofast and part way through the workshop I ended up sticking the instructions to the wall, just as a reminder. Still, this is part of the learning curve and a useful part of the exercise.
We managed to produce a lot of notes during the day and all I need to do now is type them up and relate them to the data schema. In this way we can tune the application to what is actually needed.