4 workshops to destroy Silos: 2/4 – The Event Storming

Hey there, how are we doing today? So in my last article I talked to you about a short workshop we call Lightning Session (if you haven’t read it yet you can find it here https://orouho.com/2020/08/11/4-workshops-to-destroy-silos-1-4-the-lightning-session/ btw πŸ˜‰). Once this one is done everyone should have the same vision & level of information regarding the topic they will work on so that’s a good start right πŸ‘

Now you might think “Awesome, let’s start kicking some b***s, we got this!” and to that I would answer not so fast my young Padawan, there is still a few things that we should do before we start thinking of the solution or implementation! And today I will share with you a few inputs on the Event Storming.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

What is that about?

For me, it all started with this article: a nice presentation & feedback on what is Event Storming and how to organize / facilitate it that definitely caught my attention. So I started to investigate on the matter a little bit more and found out this conference by Alberto Brandolini. Now everything that is presented there makes perfect sense to me so I had to try it and the first result was this one:

As you can guess, due to the confinement it was done online. I’ve already written an article on remote workshops (I’ll put a link at the end of this article in case you’re interested) and this one was no exception. After a few trials we learned one or two interesting things (try, learn & adapt right) so I won’t present the workshop itself (let’s assume you checked the links I just shared) but will just share a few advices. Just keep in mind that the objective of the Event Storming is to represent your current workflow.

The scope is (very) important

I guess this one is pretty obvious but we most definitely didn’t anticipate how much this is true! And we are talking hours here, the diagram above took us almost 8 hours of work to complete. We had to do 3 different sessions to go through all of it and, let’s be honest, it was kind of tedious. Don’t take this the wrong way though, the result is quite valuable and is definitely giving a lot of insights on what’s going on right now in the system. Furthermore this should only be the case at first, I mean once you’ve mapped your system when you get back to the diagram it will be to check the information or update it because something changed but nevertheless, if we had to do it again I would definitely split it into smaller topics, after about 1:30 or 2 hours it becomes difficult to keep people focus.

My advice: have sessions of 1:30-2:00 hours on a limited scope and then put it all together

Find the right people

As explained in the presentation by Alberto, no one has the whole vision of how things work, even when they think they do! That’s why the idea in the event storming is to get together people from all departments: business, IT, sales, HR, operations, support…and we’re talking about people actually doing the work, using the system or creating it. Managers are great (not a very popular thought these days but I think we need managers) but they’re not always the best source of information (and it’s not their job!) so remember this if you want to make sure to have updated information and that the timeline resulting from the workshop is accurate.

No one, in the organization, has the whole vision of what the workflow is in your system

One more thing on the participants. In a physical event where everyone is at the same place it can be really great and efficient to have a lot of people working in groups and sharing knowledge but in a remote workshop, unless you have the right tools it will most certainly end up being a waste of time. That’s the hard truth, or at least that’s what I’ve observed. Out of 10 people you will have 3-4 tops that are really participating, about 2-3 that are interested and listening and the rest that are clearly doing something else on the side and just connected to the call because they were invited but don’t know what the heck they are doing here.

Now I have two things to help minimize this situation:

  • Make sure to have a clear agenda: what is the topic, description of the activity, what is expected (the deliverables) and finally, why did you invite these persons
  • The Law of Two Feet

If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.

Harrison Owen and friends

Sounds easy enough right? This is a great thumb rule and I often remind people of it: don’t hesitate to leave and go do something productive instead of wasting your time, no one will take this the wrong way (well at least I know I won’t).

Two important questions

Ok so, the timeline is done, everyone seems ok with it and can’t think of anything missing, good job!

But guess what, you’re not finished yet. There are two important questions that, from my point of view, are mandatory before you can consider that the effort was worth it:

  1. Where do we create value? Right, we know that’s what we are doing right now but among all those events and commands at which point(s) can we consider that value is generated (and make sure that everyone is aligned on what value means, it can be different depending on the team so you never know). If you are going to change something in your system this information can lead to 2 different conclusions:
    • Whatever you do make sure you don’t screw this part!
    • We can definitely improve or exploit this, let’s work on that
  2. Which part of the system makes you wanna cry? If you go back and check again the timeline I shared, you can see a big angry face. It is linked to the green section and it was clear to everyone that this part of the workflow is frustrating and quite noneffective. A good way to identify where you can start changing things πŸ€“

Great, now you can pat yourself on the back and congratulate each other for a job well done!

Good Job GIF - WillSmith GoodJob ReallyGoodJob - Discover ...

That’s all folks!

Good enough for one day. Some of you might think that this is very similar to other workshops like the Value Stream Mapping for exemple and you’re completely right. It’s a different approach that aims to answer similar questions. Is this one better? Who knows, personally I’ve used both and still do, without a specific criteria for choosing one or the other…

Great, 2 down, 2 more to go 😎 The next article will be dedicated to the Story Mapping, yeahhhh πŸ₯³ And if you want to know more just follow the link https://orouho.com/2020/10/17/4-workshops-to-destroy-silos-3-4-the-story-mapping/

In the meantime what about you, do you use the Event Storming? What do you think about it? Have you experienced similar things than us? Let me know in the comments section ✍️

Oh, and for those who are interested here is the article about remote workshops that I wrote a few months ago:


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Published by Olivier Rouhaud

I'm an Agile Coach, Scrum Master & manager convinced that human centered teams and organisations are the most interesting and efficient!

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