This paper was presented by Kristine Karlsen of City University London, UK. She started with the statement that requirements elicitation should be a creative process. The stakeholders know their problems, but they don’t necessarily know all of the possibilities to solve those problems. Her research presented here is based on the idea there is a lack of tools to support this creative elicitation process.
In her study, she used existing techniques: web-based scenario walkthroughs and storyboarding first (using their scenario tool, ART-SCENE). Then she used a combinatorial tool that relied on inputting scenario phrases into a search tool that then searching the web for images and text. The person literally sits and watches pictures go by, waiting for some new idea for a requirement to be triggered for their scenario.
The new requirements were then evaluated by SMEs so to their novelty and usefulness. She found that this process certainly doesn’t work for all types of analysts in that some people didn’t use it as well. They actually generated fewer requirements using this process than not (though arguably they had already generated the obvious ones so I’m not sure the point of this result) but they suspect that they did generate more novel requirements. This last point was certainly a point of question. She doesn’t believe they have enough results to say it’s conclusive yet but some of the participants in the conference asked questions about who defines what “novel” is.
Whether or not this particular idea is right is less relevant to me. Her original assumption though is very relevant that what we do is a creative process. I think it is what differentiates a true product management from someone who just elicits requirements. In the absence of a tool, there are various materials out there on how to put people in a creative mindset and do activities that inspire innovation (for example: Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play)