Technique $100/$1000 Distribution
Ask customers to allocate $100 among the requirements to
show what value they hold for each requirement (i.e., its
importance when buying). Next have customers allocate $1000
to reward suppliers who have done well in meeting any of the
Forces some relative rating
Shows how customers make buying choices
Show how well suppliers are meeting customer requirements
No forced comparisons
Technique acquiring information about
A strategy is acquiring information about one's own and
other's outcomes of the decision making situation. This arises
from the game-playing research literature that suggests that
knowing the outcomes of opponents and the game playing
strategies they use to maximize those outcomes is valuable to a
The additive clustering (ADCLUS) model (Shepard & Arabie,
1979) treats the similarity of two stimuli as a weighted
additive measure of their common features. Inspired by recent
work in unsupervised learning with multiple cause models, we
propose a new, statistically well-motivated algorithm for
discovering the structure of natural stimulus classes using the
ADCLUS model, which promises substantial gains in
conceptual simplicity, practical efficiency, and solution
quality over earlier efforts. We also present preliminary results
with artificial data and two classic similarity data sets.
Technique aggregating information
Another group of strategies work to reduce complexity by
aggregating information. Psychology tends to evaluate decision
making from an information processing standpoint (Reitman,
1964). Both individuals and groups' information processing
capacities can be severely overwhelmed by the information
processing demands placed on them by complex problems
typically seen in organizational settings
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Technique Analytic Hierarchy Process
1) paarsgewijze vergelijking schaal 1-9 (en voor omgekeerde 1
tot 1/9) op een gekozen dimensie
3) resultaat: rangschikking op gekozen dimensie
Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP)
AHP asks people to make choices between pairs of customer
requirements and select whether one requirement is equal, 1/2
or 1/4 as important as the other. The number of judgments a
rater must make is n(n-1)/2, so if there were 10 requirements
there would be 45 total judgments. With 20 requirements,
there would be 190 judgments. Expert Choice, Pittsburgh, PA,
provides software that can make the AHP process somewhat
more practical to implement.
Forces many specific judgments between customer
Requirements are rated relative to each other
Automatically, importance ratings are expressed as a % or
fraction and all total to 100% or 1.0
Software checks for consistency in response ratings
Provides quite discerning importance values
Software costs about $500
Takes time to learn the software
AHP can be a little tricky to design
If not careful, it asks respondees to differentiate beyond their
level of patience.
Technique Analytic Network Process
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The AHP is a relatively simple and accessible way to deal
with everyday decisions, particularly because of the
availability of its user-friendly supporting software Expert
Choice. The ANP is much broader and deeper than the AHP
and can be applied to very sophisticated decisions involving a
variety of interactions and dependencies. In general, one would
not expect simple everyday decisions to be dealt with as
feedback problems that require the ANP. It is mostly the
complex corporate or public-sector decisions requiring a large
amount of information, interaction, and feedback with a high
degree of complexity that would benefit most from this
For example, the concern may be whether a merger should be
made or a subsidiary sold, a new product put on the market, a
new activity undertaken, and how best to do it; what kind of
legislation is needed and how it should be implemented; where
money and other resources should be allocated, and in what
amounts. Here the refinements can be handled with greater
precision to obtain an answer that is not simply a ranking, as
one does in a hierarchy that assumes independence from level
to level. It should be possible to include every conceivable
concern and every experience and judgment in this approach.
The ANP is recommended for cases where the most thorough
and systematic analysis of influences needs to be made. The
need for simple forms of feedback and dependence will often
be encountered when attempting to use a hierarchy to make a
decision. It is not a luxury but a core concern to learn about
how to deal with dependence in decision making.
Morphological analysis (analysis of form) is the organization
of complexity, which is considered one of the four areas of
creativity, along with brainstorming, synectics, and lateral
thinking. Decision making and morphological analysis have
similar concerns: how to structure attributes and criteria in
terms of higher goals, how to establish priorities, and how to
choose the best alternatives. We will be concerned with these
aspects of creative thinking.
Technique Anchored Rating Scale
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Again using an Affinity Diagram, organize the customer
requirements into high and secondary levels. Present the
customer with the high level customer requirements. Have the
customer pick the requirement that is most important and
assign that a "10" rating. Then ask the customer to assign up
to 10 points each to the remaining customer requirements
using the item that was given a "10" as a comparison anchor.
For example, relative to "Performance" which got the 10, the
customer may assign a "7" rating to "Life".
Then have the customer pick the most important second level
customer requirement in each category and assign that a "10"
rating. For example, under the primary category of
"Performance", the secondary level requirement, "Cuts
Smooth", may be considered the most important by the
customer and he/she assigns that a "10" rating. Then, ask the
customer to assign 1 to 10 points to the remaining secondary
level customer requirements relative to "Cuts Smooth" which
received a "10" rating (e.g., "Cuts Straight" might get a "7"
The overall rating of each secondary level requirement can be
computed by multiplying its importance rating times the rating
given its related high level customer requirement. For example,
if "Cuts Straight" got a "7" rating and the category
"Performance" got a "9" rating, the weighted rating for "Cuts
Straight" would be 7 x 9 = 63. Then, to convert the rating to a
1 to 5 rating value, divide each rating by 20 and round off (i.e.,
63/20 = 3.15. Round off to a "3" rating).
Forces some tradeoffs but is not as complicated as conjoint
The best balance between linear rating scales or constant sum
scale and conjoint analysis.
Not as rigorous as conjoint analysis (e.g., does not force
tradeoffs between customer requirements at 2-3 levels of
Technique Assumption Smashing
A useful technique of generating ideas is to list the
assumptions of the problem, and then explore what happens
as you drop each of these assumptions individually or in
Technique Attribute Listing
Like asking the six basic questions, attribute listing can deliver
some real surprises. Take a product, a mousetrap for instance.
It has a Feature called the spring, the Attributes of the present
spring are that it's coiled, steel and tempered. Ideas for
changing it would be: flat leaf, titanium. Get the idea?
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 4 van 39
Conflict can also be managed through bargaining which is based
on interpersonal influence attempts. Face-to-face discussions,
persuasion tactics, bluffing strategies, threatening and
promising, conceding reluctantly, and responding tit-for-tat are
all bargaining techniques from the social psychology research
literature that can be used to reduce conflict (MacCrimmon &
Technique Bayesian probability revision
Bayesian probability revision is a strategy for "prescribing the
optimal impact that additional information should have on a
decision maker's judgment of initially uncertain decision
outcomes"(MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976, 1400). Research has
shown that decision makers tend to be more conservative than
the optimal Bayesian revision. The Probabilistic Information
Processing System (PIP) can be used to help decision makers
apply the Bayesian approach more accurately. Decision
makers can also calculate the economic cost of uncertainty by
multiplying the probability of each possible event that might
occur by the cost of the best action to take in that situation.
By doing this they can calculate the optimal amount of
information to collect to reduce uncertainty. The expense of
collecting the uncertain information can be compared to the
cost of not having it.
Technique Blending ideas
Zoveel mogelijk ideeŽn worden bij elkaar gevoegd tot ťťn groot
eengemaakt idee dat dus een beetje van iedereen wordt.
Soms is het niet mogelijk om ťťn zinvol idee te distilleren.
Technique bootstrapping with a linear
A decision making strategy for aggregating preferences is
bootstrapping with a linear model (MacCrimmon & Taylor,
1976). This is useful for situations in which a decision maker
makes a number of similar decisions. linear regression can
model the decision maker's behavior. In fact, these linear
regression models are more reliable than the decision maker,
because it does not have as variable attention and other similiar
human inconsistencies. This statistical backup can be an aid to
decision making, ensuring high reliability of decisions.
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 5 van 39
Have a well-defined and clearly stated problem
Have someone assigned to write down all the ideas as they
Have the right number of people in the group
Have someone in charge to help enforce the following
-Every idea is accepted and recorded
-Encourage people to build on the ideas of others
-Encourage way-out and odd ideas
Technique Brainstorming Interview
Brainstorming is not in itself an interview technique primarily
because it is a random, unorganised and informal technique.
However brainstorming can be a valuable requirements
elicitation technique, extracting novel requirements. It is
however unorganised and if not controlled, can become a
fruitless exercise. Brainstorming should be done with a peer
group, as ranking may reduce participant creativity and hinder
the final selection of solutions.
Brainstorming allows the user to express ideas which may be
unrealistic or impossible and for the participants to build on
these ideas. Before the brainstorming session, the participants
need to be briefed as to the purpose of the meeting and also
the scope of their ideas. At the start of the brainstorming
session, the participants should be reminded of the rules of
brainstorming, such as not criticising the ideas of others, as
this stifles creativity and building on suggestions put forward
by others. During the brainstorming there should be little
control, except where the rules are not abided by or the
suggestions put forward are not compatible with the scope and
purpose of the meeting. At the end of the brainstorming
session, the ideas should be listed. Against each idea, a score or
ranking should be decided. The score reflects the
applicability/usefulness of the idea, so ideas with a low score
can be disregarded. For the remaining proposed solutions, a
vote or proposal/seconding mechanism can be used.
Because of the high, random suggestions that brainstorming
produces, it is a useful tool to use at the start of a project's life
cycle, when the requirements for the proposed system are
still in their infancy. Brainstorming may be used later on by
the requirements engineer to find novel solutions to particular
The benefits of using brainstorming include:
multi-perspectives from participants
a number of possible solutions
The problems with brainstorming include:
non-relevant ideas being put forward
collating all the suggestions
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 6 van 39
Elke deelnemer start met een papier waarop hij gedurende vijf
minuten zijn ideeŽn opschrijft.
Na vijf minuten wordt het blad doorgegeven aan de volgende.
Deze vult aan gedurende vijf minuten en geeft het weer door.
Op het einde worden alle ideeŽn uitgehangen, zodat ieder ze
Technique Campaign speech voting
Elke persoon mag drie stemmen uitbrengen, gespreid over alle
Elk idee dat tenminste ťťn stem heeft gekregen, wordt
Technique Checklist technique
Checklist: put to other uses? Adapt? Modify?Ö
The strategy of "chunking," which helps decision makers
reduce complexity by organizing and grouping information into
categories or "chunks," and arranging them by order of
importance (Simon, 1969). This strategy serves to effectively
enhance the decision maker's information processing capacity.
You can see the cognitive psychology theory behind this
strategy, and its relationship with a similar technique for
increasing the capacity of short-term memory.
Technique classify factors into
To reduce complexity, and increase manageability, a useful
strategy is to classify factors of a decision problem into
controllable and uncontrollable, and focus on those that are
controllable. Find solutions to the controllable factors that you
can do something about (MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976).
Technique communication networks
The use of appropriate communication networks of decision
making groups maximizes accurate and efficient exchange of
communication. This reduces complexity by increasing the
amount of information. In complex tasks, decentralized
communication networks have been found to be more efficient
(Lawson, 1965; Mulder, 1960; Shaw, 1954) and to produce
more satisfaction among group members (Cohen, 1961;
Lawson, 1965; Leavitt, 1951; Shaw, 1954). The down side to
this communication network is that leadership is less likely to
emerge in it than in more centralized ones.
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Technique Conjoint Analysis
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 8 van 39
Conjoint analysis (also called Multi-attribute Utility Analysis)
is used to determine what combination of customer
requirements (product and service attributes) has the most
appeal to targeted customers and when price is included, what
combination of attributes and price will provide the company
with the best market share and profitability. In essence, it
helps compute a utility curve for each customer requirement.
A utility curve shows what amount of each customer
requirement must be provided to satisfy customers and it also
can show when providing more is not better. Therefore, the
utility curve provides valuable insight into the
return-on-investment for each design improvement effort.
Often in Conjoint Analysis, each requirement is presented to
the customers at two, three or four intensity levels. For
example, if "Durability" was a high level customer
requirement, it could be presented to the customer at two
levels - "High Durability" and "Low Durability". Customers
are presented requirements cards showing different
combinations of customer requirements and levels. For
example, three attributes at three levels would require 27 cards.
Customers are asked to stack the cards in order of priority,
best on top. Alternatively, customers could be asked to write
rating values on each card (e.g., from 1 to 100 points). This
method would likely avoid ties between cards.
The ranking or rating results can then be used to calculate and
plot the utility value of each combination of attributes. For
example, the highest ranked card gets a utility value of 1 and
the lowest 0. Cards in between have utility values based on
where their ranking falls between the 1 an 0 cards.
The first pass of conjoint analysis is usually at the high level
requirements. Then, it is done at a more detailed customer
requirements level for specific requirements of high interest.
Various schemes are used to keep things manageable when
working through this process.
To make conjoint analysis more practical from the very
beginning, the number of customer requirements should be
constrained using various approaches. Focus groups can be
used to eliminate requirements that are low importance. Then,
the conjoint analysis is done on the remaining customer
requirements. Also, requirements could be eliminated that are
expected (e.g., won't break, long life or low price) and
importance ratings on use-related requirements only are asked
for. However, bear in mind that conjoint analysis can be used
to determine how much more customers are willing to pay for
Forces many specific tradeoffs not only between requirements
but at different levels of intensity for each item
Puts the customer in the framework of the actual buying
Helps position the product offering in the market place by
identifying the right combination and level of product
attributes that will sell best at specified prices
Can practically handle only a limited number of customer
requirements (e.g., 6 attributes at 3 levels would require 54
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 9 van 39
Can be a quite tricky to design
If not careful, it asks respondees to differentiate beyond their
level of patience
Technique Conservative focusing
Conservative focusing is finding one positive instance and
varying one attribute at a time
Technique Constant Sum Scale
Use an Affinity Diagram to structure customer needs into high
level, second level and, if needed, third level requirements.
Ask each customer to allocate 100 points among the high level
requirements (i.e., "life", "performance", "handles hazards",
etc.). Next, have the customer allocate 100 points among the
second level customer requirements related to each high level
customer requirement. Compute weighted importance of each
second level requirement by multiplying its rating times the
rating of its related high level requirement. Normalize the
ratings to 100.
Forces some relative rating but not as much as Anchored Scale
Since some items may be assigned no points, you can get a
very wide variance in response ratings.
Technique Creative Problem Solving in a
Start your solution search with your customer or end user.
Define the problem accurately by asking the customer/end user
to state the problem five times. Get good ideas from
everywhere and everyone, let serendipity play. Think multiple
solutions. Brainstorm, exaggerate, experiment, play and
persist. If you're concerned about protecting your solution use
a patent or project notebook to date and record your actions
and your findings. Make innovative cost reduction a goal for
your problem-solving sessions.
Technique Creativity Triggers
Try applying any of these actions to your problem or idea:
add, subtract, transfer, empathize, animate, superimpose,
substitute, fragment, isolate, distort, disguise, contradict,
parody, lie, compare to, hybridize, metamorphose, symbolize,
mythologize, fantasize, repeat, combine
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 10 van 39
Technique Decomposable Matrices
The first strategy is to model the complexity. This can be
accomplished by using Decomposable Matrices, as suggested
by Simon (1969).
Technique Delphi technique
An effective strategy for aggregating information from the
expertise of decision makers in a group is the Delphi technique
(Dalkey & Helmer, 1963). This technique employs interaction
among group members that are isolated from each other to
preclude "forceful group members from dominating the
discussion and stifling contributions of other group members"
(MacCrimmon & Taylor,1976, p. 1420). The experts are
separated and are given questionnaires soliciting their opinions
and reasons for them. These questionnaires are then circulated
anonymously to each other group member. After each round
of questionnaires, information is consolidated and again
circulated anonymously among group members. This is a
strategy to maximize decision making benefits of a group,
while limiting some of its weaknesses. With current computer
technology, this technique would be especially easy to
Technique devil's advocate
The devil's advocate is a well-known strategy of presenting the
opposition's side of the issue.
Technique DO IT
The pattern of the DO IT process emphasises the need to
Define problems, Open yourself to many possible solutions,
Identify the best solution and then Transform it into action
The ten DO IT catalysts, designed to help us creatively define,
open, identify and transform, are...
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 11 van 39
Technique Drawing and Visual Thinking
So much of our thinking is word based which is very much a
left-brained activity. To utilise the right brain in visualising and
solving problems, a new method is needed... thinking in a
This is the premise of Betty Edward's book Drawing on the
Artist Within (the sequel to Drawing on the Right Side of the
The seminal book on the subject of visual thinking would have
to be Robert McKim's book Experiences in Visual Thinking
which he developed from his experiences in teaching a
visual-thinking course at Stanford University.
Technique factor into subproblems
A complex decision problem can be factored into smaller, more
manageable subproblems to reduce complexity. These
subproblems then can be divided among decision makers in a
group, and solved in parallel (Simon, 1969). Subproblems can
be delegated to group members with relevant strengths in that
area. One proviso in using this strategy is that it is not
effective for highly interrelated subparts, because then the
coordination problems outweigh the advantages gained.
Technique focus gambling
focus gambling varies more than one attribute at a time
Technique focus on changes
To find causes of a problem, look at changes that occurred
prior to the occurrence of the problem. If your heater is
malfunctioning just prior to a gas leak, the leak is probably on
Technique focusing on what is or is not
The decision maker can analyze what the characteristics of the
problem are and discriminate them from the characteristics of
what is not the problem. By focusing on the factors differing
between the two, they can diagnose what is causing the
Technique Forced Analogy
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Forced analogy is a very useful and fun-filled method of
generating ideas. The idea is to compare the problem with
something else that has little or nothing in common and gaining
new insights as a result.
You can force a relationship between almost anything, and get
new insights - companies and whales, management systems
and telephone networks, or your relationship and a pencil.
Forcing relationships is one of the most powerful ways to
develop ways to develop new insights and new solutions. A
useful way of developing the relationships is to have a
selection of objects or cards with pictures to help you generate
ideas. Choose an object or card at random and see what
relationships you can force.
Use mind-mapping or a matrix to record the attributes and
then explore aspects of the problem at hand.
Technique Form Analysis
Form analysis uses forms, one of the most common methods
of organisational communication to elicit requirements. These
are good sources of information, as they provide a structured
list if inputs and outputs for the system. As stated by
Loucopoulos, a form is a good source of domain knowledge
because [Loucopoulos and Karakostas '95]:
It is a formal model and thus less ambiguous and inconsistent
than equivalent knowledge expressed in natural language.
A form is a data model, thus it can provide the basis for
developing the structural component of a functional model.
Important information about organisations is usually available
The acquisition of forms is easy since they are the most
commonplace object in an office organisation.
The instructions which normally accompany the forms
provide an additional source of domain knowledge.
Forms analysis can be automated more easily than analysis of
other sources of requirements knowledge such as text,
Forms can be used as a direct entry into entity relationship
models, as entities, relationships and attributes have a direct
mapping from forms.
Technique Fuzzy Logic Requirements
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John Yen and Jonathan Lee  reported a novel approach to
requirements engineering by using "fuzzy logic," which can
work with imprecise statements. They had two premises.
First, that "soft" functional requirements could be used in
specifying requirements for expert systems. This approach
was task based. Second, they applied fuzzy logic analysis
techniques to validate the requirements; that is, they applied
some test to the requirement and analyzed the results for a
standard distribution. A high degree of correlation of results
indicated a valid requirement.
They describe a set of logic calculus that allows analysis,
validation, and specification of requirement "constraints" that
are as ambiguous as "feasible, optimal, and least expensive."
The implication drawn from their work is that imprecise
requirements (the normal state of affairs) may be handled by
an automated system using current technology. Further, such a
tool might be combined with some of the other tools
mentioned for a nearly automated treatment, from elicitation to
specification and finally to generation of code.
M. Bras and Y. Toussaint  lay out a concept for the
analysis and mapping of requirements documents. They
worked specifically on satellite ground support systems,
which tend to be large, take a long time to develop, have
extensive documentation, and have nearly all documentation in
natural language. They treat traceability by building tools to
analyze, linguistically map, and retain as a knowledge base the
contents of requirements documents.
Their work is like Yen and Lee's in that they use a parser
and language analysis module. They differ on the mapping of
knowledge contained in the documents, which they catalog in
four types: morphological (the sentences); syntactic
(grammar); semantic (meaning of language parts); and
pragmatic and background knowledge, which gives the implicit
meanings of the language. Their key concept for tracing
requirements is that any requirement or combination of
requirements should be "traceable" from knowledge links in the
Although they do not propose a quantitative measure for
traceability, they do require that the "knowledge tree" contain
links between the requirements. They, too, offer a system for
the parsing, analysis, and linguistic mapping of the knowledge
in the requirements. This knowledge goes into a
machine-searchable database (knowledge base) that becomes
available for the techniques mentioned above. Again, the point
is that advanced automated techniques are being brought to
bear on the problem as CASE-like techniques are used on
Technique Fuzzy Thinking
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How would you decide to change jobs or propose marriage?
Answers to questions such as "Is the Salary Good?", "Can we
be happy" will have varying degrees of truth. In Aristotelian
Logic, there is True and False. With Fuzzy Logic, there is a
scale of 0 to 1 where Truth would be 1 and False be 0.
Decisions made with Fuzzy Logic take into account these
varying degrees of truth for a variety of inputs, and produce an
output (action) based on the inputs.
Ask true or false questions, then look for answers that
demonstrate intermediate levels of trueness and falseness. If
you wonder about the value of fuzzy logic, it's what makes
elevators and cars with antilock braking systems stop
This has got to be one of the most fun techniques. It's based
on the fact that the usual, the normal is a weak stimulus for
A quick way to get this technique to pay off is to change your
routine. Take a new way to or from work. Eat lunch in a new
area. Listen to a new radio station. Watch a television show
that's not in your native language. Love interior design? Read a
magazine about boxing.
Imagine you're the president of Sun Microsystems and you've
just discovered employees have placed your Ferrari on a raft in
a lagoon outside your office (they did this!). How would this
discovery affect your approach to the rest of your day?
Zen Buddhists are renowned for using discontinuity to
stimulate thinking. Try answering this Zen riddle: "What is a
mouse when it spins?" Want to be more creative? Try some of
these creativity techniques.
Technique Hegelian dialectic
The Hegelian dialectic requires decision makers to examine the
situation completely from two opposing points of view.
maandag 31 mei 1999 Pagina 15 van 39
1. Divide your challenge into attributes.
2. Describe each attribute by drawing an abstract graphic
symbol. Each drawing should represent a specific attribute and
be on a separate index card. Draw whatever feels right for
you. Allow the image of the attribute to emerge in its own way
- to state what is wants to say. On the back of the card, write
3. Place all of the file cards on a table with the graphic symbols
facing up. Group and regroup the symbols randomly into
various relationships. Try letting the cards arrange themselves
without conscious direction, as if they were telling you where
they wanted to be. Mix and match the symbols to provoke
4. Look for ideas and thoughts that you can link to your
challenge. Try to force relationships. Try free-associating,
Record the most idea-provoking arrangements.
5. When stalemated, you may want to add other Ideatoons or
even start an entirely new set.
Physically rearranging your cards will invent new relationships
and provoke new ideas. Try turning your symbols upside
down and sideways to generate new patterns. Juggle the
symbols and test the limits of your imagination.
Ideatoons is a device that allows you to express, see and think
about your business challenge in a different and unique way by
seasoning your challenge with the sauce of pictures.
Pattern language increases your capacity to divide whole into
parts and regroup the parts into a variety of new patterns.
Symbols also help you develop a deeper insight into any
Technique identify and utilize social
A strategy is to identify and utilize social motives of group
How many ideas are really original?
It is quite valid to imitate other ideas as a preparatory step to
original thinking. Try what all the "great" creators have done:
imitate, imitate, imitate. After you have imitated enough, you
will find your preferences shape what you are doing into a
distinct style. Originality is a natural result of sincere creative
Technique Informal requirements eliciting
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Vennix et al. , offer an extensive review of literature; they
conclude that most requirements elicitation is an art, with little
being done to change it to a science. They have tried to
remedy this problem through research in modeling and
simulation, capturing, documenting, and measuring the mental
models of individuals or groups to simulate alternatives in
decision making. However, to capture this information and to
find alternatives, they take on the problem of eliciting criteria
(requirements) that a model must satisfy. They note that there
is little in academic modeling and simulation training that treat
this problem. They present techniques for informal elicitation
of requirements, which the facilitator is to formalize through
documentation. Donald C. Gause and Gerald M. Weinberg 
address similar issues.
The primary finding is that group techniques, properly
facilitated and appropriately structured, can out perform
almost all individuals in obtaining, documenting, and evaluating
requirements. Techniques include "brainstorming," nominal
group techniques, the "Delphi" technique, and other similar
techniques. The single most important result of the survey
was that when a trained facilitator was added to the group, and
structure was added to group activities (except
brainstorming), there was a significant increase in quality and
quantity. Many of the techniques parallel those of the
Vennix  offers guidelines to structure the knowledge
elicitation process that are equally applicable to requirements
elicitation. The article identifies five factors to apply structure
"[T]he phase in the model-building process and the type of
task being performed, the number of persons involved in the
process, the purpose of the modeling effort, the time available
for participants, and finally the costs involved in using various
Technique input-output models
A strategy is to model the complexity. This can be
accomplished by using input-output models, developed by
Technique joint agreements
The development of joint agreements among conflicting parties
to reduce disparity between their desired outcomes serves to
effectively reduce conflict. A disinterested third party can
offer an objective viewpoint and lessen conflict, even without
serving as a mediator or arbiter.
Technique K-means clustering
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The Kmeans command produces a K-means clustering.
K-means clustering splits a set of objects into a selected
number of groups by maximizing between variation relative to
within variation. In rough terms, you may think of it as like
doing a one-way ANOVA where the groups are formed by
making the largest F-value possible by reassigning members to
each group. K-means is an iterative procedure that assigns
cases to a specified number of nonoverlapping clusters. The
procedure iterates through the data until it successfully
clusters your cases.
Kmeans uses a default value of 50 for the number of iterations.
Rarely should you need more.
Technique Kano Survey
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Professor Kano, a Japanese professor, developed the concept
that, when met, requirements have different impact.
Some requirements are "expecteds" and only cause
dissatisfaction if not met.
Others are linear "satisfiers" - the more provided, the more
satisfied customers are.
Others are "exciters" - they excite customers because they
A customer survey designed in a Kano format simply asks
each question in two ways. One question says, "If this
requirement was met what would your reaction be?". The
second question says, "If this requirement was not met, what
would your reaction be?"
The same response choices are provided for both questions.
I like it that way
It must be that way
I am neutral
I can live with it that way
I dislike it that way
By evaluating the survey data, a quantitative indication of
importance of each requirement is calculated. In the
calculations, "exciters" have much more weight than
"expecteds" or "linear satisfiers" and "linear satisfiers" have
more weight than "expecteds". Spread sheet software makes
this process more straight forward.
Provides very discerning importance values
Surfaces "exciters" which offer competitive advantages if met
Identifies leverage from "satisfiers"
Identifies "expecteds" that should not be overlooked in the
Automatically, importance ratings are expressed as a % or
fraction and all total to 100% or 1.0
A little tedious to complete because the questions are asked
Fairly complicated to analyze survey results
Technique LARC - Left and Right
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The right brain can be stimulated using drawing and visual
images. There are four versions of LARC and each is a
complete system for the stimulation of creative ideas. LARC 1
and LARC 2 are quick sets of exercises that can prompt
imaginative solutions to many problems. LARC 3 and LARC
4 are more complex, take more time, and are to be used for
more difficult problems or when it is necessary to find even
more inventive ideas than those produced by LARC 1 and
LARC 2. Each LARC version builds on the previous version.
Technique lateral thinking
Lateral thinking is about moving sideways when working on a
problem to try different perceptions, different concepts and
different points of entry. The term covers a variety of
methods including provocations to get us out of the usual line
of thought. Lateral thinking is cutting across patterns in a
self-organising system, and has very much to do with
Technique level of aggregation
Marschak (1964), suggests partitioning information effectively
by using an optimal "level of aggregation" for decisions. Some
information is too specific to be helpful, while other
information is too aggregated and general to be useful. If
detailed information is not retained during aggregation, it will
not be able to be disaggregated to use later. While aggregation
reduces complexity, the specifics of detailed information tend
to get lost when it is aggregated, and may be needed for later
Technique Linear Rating Scale
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List the requirements and adjacent to each item place an
importance scale of "1 to 5" or "1 to 10". Be sure to provide a
definition of what each importance rating value means, for
5 = won't buy without
4 = might not buy without
3 = not critical, but might spend more for
2 = nice, but would not spend more for
1 = no value to me
Ask each customer to rate the importance of each requirement
using the rating definitions. Compute average rating and
perhaps standard deviation for each requirement.
A "1 to 10" scale can sometimes be better than a "1 to 5" scale
since it provides more room for differentiation and, therefore,
can reduce bunching of responses (e.g., many requirements get
4's on a 5 point scale). In some cases, customers can not
discriminate with high resolution and a 10 point scale may be
Quick to complete
Even using a 10 point scale, there is not always a wide spread
of importance ratings.
Rates requirements independent of each other rather than
relative to each other
"Central tendency" may creep in when there are many
requirements to rate (e.g., over 20 items) and customers just
starting putting down middle-of-the-road ratings
Logrolling is a procedure where groups can trade off votes on
issues they consider unimportant, for future ones on issues
they do (MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976).
Technique Lotus Blossom Technique
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1,Copy the diagram above [by clicking on the image above for
a larger image, or downloading an Excel 4 spreadsheet]
2. Write your central theme or problem in the diagram's center.
Think of related ideas or applications and write them in the
surrounding circles (those labelled A through H). For instance,
one company's central theme was "establishing a creative
climate." They surrounded this statement in the central box
with: "offer idea contests," "create a stimulating environment,"
"have creative-thinking meetings," "generate ways to 'get out
of your box'," "create a positive attitude," "establish a
creative-idea committee," "make work fun," and "expand the
meaning of work."
4. Use the ideas written in circles ADH as central themes for
the surrounding boxes.
So, if you had written "create a stimulating environment" in
circle A, you would copy it into the circle labeled A directly
below, where it would become the central theme for a new box,
and so on.
5. Try to think of eight new ideas involving the new central
theme, and write them in the squares surrounding it. Use the
idea stimulators to help you generate ideas. Fill out as many
boxes as you can.
6. Continue the process until you've completed as much of the
diagram as you can.
Technique mathematical clustering
clustering of elements based on similarity measures of the
Technique mathematical programming
If available alternatives can be defined by mathematical
constraints, and the decision problem is oriented towards
design rather than choice, mathematical programming methods
can be used to program a computer algorithm. The decision
maker inputs preferences for trade-offs for incremental
changes in attribute values from a reference point. This
computer program will then calculate new alternatives
optimally to solve the problem (MacCrimmon & Taylor,
Technique means-end analysis
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The means-end analysis is a useful strategy for coping with
complexity in goal hierarchies or multiple goals. Decision
makers analyze what means can be used to close the gap
between the current situation and the desired goal state, the
end. Then successive means are found to further close the gap
and applied step by step. This again models the way
computer programs chip away in logical steps in problem
solving and decision making. Newell, Shaw, and Simon (1960)
discuss a computer program called the General Problem Solver,
that employs this strategy. Notice the relationship to the
concept of creative tension.
Technique Metaphorical thinking
Excessive logical thinking can stifle the creative process, so use
metaphors as way of thinking differently about something.
Make and look for metaphors in your thinking, and be aware
of the metaphors you use. Metaphors are wonderful, so long
as we remember that they don't constitute a means of proof, as
by definition a metaphor must break down at some point.
Technique Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a lot like storyboarding, except you don't use
the cards. Just work on a single sheet of paper. The technique
works for meetings, think tanks, giving presentations, taking
notes, writing reports, individual study, group study or
Use one word per line, and connect it to other words. Include
lots of color and images. Here's a quick sample, see if you can
draw some lines that connect the attributes of an actor.
Full of ideas
Technique Morphological approach
parameters in columns,
ideas for achieving parameters in rows
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Provide customers with a list of requirements. Have each
customer distribute a specified number of votes among the
requirements. The allowed number of votes is 1/3 of the total
requirements (e.g., 30 requirements, 10 votes). Ask customers
to assign one vote to each of requirements they consider most
Quick to complete
For long lists of requirements, works better than Priority
Introduces some relative rating
Not a rigorous forced comparison
Technique mutual adjustment
Lindholm's (1965) strategy of mutual adjustment, allows
moving toward a mutually preferable point by deferring
judgment until the end and not requiring agreed on preemptory
rules at the beginning. Forming stable coalitions such as the
minimum winning size coalition and collusion and merging are
other strategies of forming joint agreements and reducing
conflict (MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976).
Mintzbergís (1983) recommended coordinating mechanism
when the environment is dynamic and complex is mutual
adjustment combined with a decentralized functionality.
Liaison mechanisms get important. Meetings, project teams,
matrix structures, liaison officers, informal contacts, and
communication devices are essentials in a process of mutual
Essentially, experts are carefully studied and analyzed (or
modeled in NLP parlance) as a way to make conscious and
unpack the mental strategies they used to get expert results.
Once the strategies are decoded, they are the available for
others to enhance their own expertise
Technique Objective and Goal Analysis
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The aim of objective and goal analysis, according to
Loucopoulos is [Loucopoulos and Karakostas '95]:
To attempt to place the requirements (problem) in a wider
To understand how the problem relates to the ultimate
problems and objectives of the larger system which will be
hosting the software system
In short, to attempt to 'get the right requirements'.
Objective and goal analysis is based on the concepts of goals,
objectives and constraints. This analysis technique allows the
requirements engineer to specify goals not only for the system
but also for the organisation in which the system is to exist.
Reviewing requirements from an organisational aspect will
verify that the requirements for the system are compatible
with the organisational goals.
Objective and goal analysis initially tries to define the systems
behaviour in terms of goals, for example "make the cars more
economical" or "make the cars more recyclable". A goal can be
broken down into sub-goals, for example "increase fuel
efficiency" and "reduce wind resistance" may be derived from
the first "make the cars more economical".
Goals which are more abstract become objectives. An objective
does not specify how, when or how much. An objective may
be "make the cars more environmentally friendly". Objectives
are generally decomposed into more specific objectives, which
will eventually, after suitable decomposition, become goals.
There are two possible relationships between goals and
objectives, AND and OR. For example if the objective is to
"make the cars more environmentally friendly", then the goals
may be "make car more efficient" OR "make the cars more
recyclable". In this case either of the goals will meet the
objective if successful, but the likelihood of the objective being
met by achieving both of the goals is greater.
The overall process of objective and goal analysis is
summarised by Loucopoulos as [Loucopoulos and Karakostas
Analyse organisation and the external environment with which
it interacts in terms of objectives, goals and constraints.
Create goal-subgoal hierarchy consisting of organisational
objectives, goals and constraints and their interrelationships
(support, conflict, constraint).
Validate the model and achieve a consensus among the
stakeholders about it.
Identify the portion of the goal-subgoal hierarchy modelling
the information-processing part of the organisation
Eliminate cases of conflicts in the above model by
negotiating/bargaining, etc., with stakeholders.
Select tasks (requirements) by eliminating alternatives.
The advantages of objectives and goal analysis include:
Clear understanding of the problem domain
Long term objectives achieved
Multiple solutions can be considered.
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Technique Open Ended Interview
Open ended interviews are used to get a broad amount of
information. They are conducted with a limited audience, as
too many people make the interviews less productive as
disagreements about aspects of the system surface. The
meeting facilitator or chairman asks questions which are
intended to allow the client to talk generally about the subject.
Open-ended interviews are user to get high level, general
information about a specific part of the system. Open
questions usually start with: what, when, where, why and
how which should not lead to straight yes/no answers. For
example questions like "what output would you get?" and
"what would happen if......?" would allow the interviewee to
elaborate in free speech in order to answer the question.
The interviewer, in preparation for the meeting would prepare
a number of questions or points to get information on. These
questions should not have to be asked in any particular order,
but it is useful to the interviewee to have any questions that
are related asked in their logical order. During the meeting, the
interviewer should try to have a relaxed and co-operative
atmosphere, as the interviewee may be suspicious as to the
motive of the interview. During the interview, it is important
that the interviewer remains calm and even nonchalant to the
answers received, as to not give an approving or disapproving
Open ended interviews are used in the initial stages of
requirements elicitation for getting the broad picture of the
required system. They can be used on particular users of the
system to find out what tasks are currently performed and any
features the new system should have that would be useful to
Advantages in using open-ended interviews include:
overview of specific areas of the system
allow the interviewee to freely express their needs
Disadvantages in using open-ended interviews include:
the facilitator writing their interpretation of the meeting
the facilitator missing key points about the required system
the facilitator being side-tracked onto non-relevant topics
the interviewee only saying things that you want to hear, not
the whole truth
the interviewee may not tell you things that are "obvious"
the interviewee will give a biased view of the system from
the interviewee will not be able to properly describe things
that they are not used to describing
To avoid some of the misinterpretation issues when using
open ended interviews, summarising or confirmation questions
should be asked. Examples of confirmation questions include:
"Do I understand correctly that ...?" or "So in summary, after
A is depressed and after time interval B, C happens".
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Technique Oracle of Delphi
You can create your own oracle by doing three things:
Ask a question. This focuses your thinking. Perhaps you
should write your question to focus attention.
Generate a random piece of information. Random selection is
important, as the unpredictability of this new input will force
you to look at the problem in a new way.
Interpret the resulting random piece of information as the
answer to your question.
The important thing is to have an open, receptive mind.
Technique Priority Ranking
Provide customers with a stack of cards with each card having
a separate requirement. Have each customer arrange the
requirements cards from most important to least important.
Convert each requirement's ranking into a ranking number (e.g.,
the top ranked requirement of 30 requirements would be given
the number of "30").
Quick to complete
Introduces relative rating
Begins to get unwieldy when there are more than 12
Technique Problem Reversal
State your problem in reverse. Change a positive statement
into a negative one.
Try to define what something is not.
Figure out what everybody else is not doing.
Use the "What If" Compass
Change the direction or location of your perspective
Turn defeat into victory or victory into defeat
Technique Questionnaire Interview
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Questionnaire interviews are used in a similar fashion as
structured interviews, insofar as they attempt to get specific
answers to direct questions. Questions can be posed in either a
form which allows the user to enter an answer, or to select
from a list of available options.
When creating a questionnaire with options to select, the
options available must accommodate the interviewees model of
the world. An example of this is demonstrated in an argument
given by Suchman when asking interviewees for their political
allegiance. The options given were Republican, Democrat and
Independent, however an answer received was "I am acclaimed
toward government, but it is that of Jehovah God's kingdom"
[Suchman and Jordan '90]. The interviewee was a Jehovah's
Witness, so the standard model of governmental parties was
Advantages of questionnaires include:
direct answers to questions
limiting the scope of answer
Disadvantages in using questionnaire interviews include:
the interviewee may give an unexpected response
the facilitator missing key points about the required system
Technique Random Input
Random inputs can be words or images. Some techniques for
getting random words (and the words should be nouns) are:
Have a bag full of thousands of words written on small pieces
of paper, cardboard, poker chips, etc. Close your eyes, put in
your hand and pull out a word.
Open the dictionary (or newspaper) at a random page and
choose a word.
Use a computer program to give you a random word. I have a
Hypercard program suitable for Apple Macintosh which uses
this list of words (236 of them!)
Make up your own list of 60 words. Look at your watch and
take note of the seconds. Use this number to get the word.
It is important to use the first word you find.
Once you have chosen the word, list its attributions or
associations with the word. Then apply each of the items on
your list and see how it applies to the problem at hand.
Technique Repertory Grid Method
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The Repertory Grid is a simple knowledge elicitation
technique devised by clinical psychologists (Kelly, 1955).
After identifying a small set of elements (a.k.a objects,
entities), the user is asked to define some constructs (a.k.a.
attributes, slots), which characterise those elements. Construct
values can be given for each element on a limited scale
between two range end points (the left and right poles). For
example, presented with the task of characterising different
wines, you might choose the elements Cotes du Rhones,
Lambrusco and Liebfraumilch, with the constructs sweetness,
colour, and effervescence. The left and right poles for each of
these constructs are defined as dry/sweet, red/white, and
still/sparkling. It is sensible to define scales for these
constructs because there are wines with intermediate values for
each of them.
The values associated with the constructs for the three wines
Cotes du Rhones | dry red still
Lambrusco | medium white sparkling
Liebfraumilch | medium white still
This is essentially qualitative information which can be elicited
through the repertory grid tool. To accommodate more
quantitative information, the method would have to be
extended to accommodate a much more sophisticated type
mechanism. Alternatively, the method serves to elicit an initial
representation which can afterwards be refined by applying
other established refinement mechanisms. Such mechanisms
can be incorporated into the MUSKRAT framework
Technique Scenario Based Requirements
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Scenario based requirements elicitation is based on extracting a
majority of the knowledge from the users of the system by
running through a task's scenario. A scenario can be likened to
a story board that details how the proposed system will meet
a particular user requirement. A scenario represents an
idealised view of a small part of the system. Another way of
looking at scenarios are that a scenario represents a task which
the operator will perform. Scenarios are very similar to
prototypes, but are more detailed in the area being
investigated, i.e. a prototype is used to model the whole
system, where a scenario looks at only a single task in which
the system is to fulfil.
To extract the requirements for a complete system a number of
scenarios are created, each looking at extracting information
from the user about a particular activity or task. For example
starting a car engine may have the following scenario:
Select ignition key
Insert ignition key into ignition lock
Turn key to "Start" position until the engine has started
Turn key to the "Run" position
The assumptions made above are that there is only one key
which is the ignition key. The car has an ignition lock. The
ignition lock has three positions : "Off", "Run" and "Start".
Once a scenario is created, the requirements engineer walks
through the scenario with a user. The user then reviews the
scenario and points out any anomalies, which for the above
scenario may be, "before starting the car, I check that the
neutral gear is selected and depress the clutch pedal. If a gear is
selected, I then make sure the hand brake is on". The scenario
is then updated with the feedback, to make a more realistic
Scenario elicitation is good when users find it easier to pass
information to the analyst through a practical sessions, rather
than through interviews and questionnaires.
Technique selecting information based on
A commonsense strategy in reducing decision making
complexity that people seem to automatically use in
experimental settings is selecting information that they deem
as valuable based on its relevance and reliability. When
aggregating information, they select information that is relevant
to the decision, and comes from a reliable source, while
ignoring information from other sources. Decision makers seem
to have well established preferences for sources that have
provided information that have led to successful decision
making in the past. In this regard, decision makers are rational
and learn from experience as psychologists would predict.
However, resistance to sources and information perceived as
lower quality can be problematic, if the bias is unfounded.
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Think about your problem in terms of your five senses. How
does the problem taste, feel, smell, look, sound? Look for your
reactions to trigger new insights into your problem and its
Technique set constraints and satisfice
A final strategy for using preferences to reduce complexity is
to set constraints and satisfice. The decision maker decides
preference constraints and then searches for an alternative that
satisfies the constraints without trying to determine if a better
alternative exists. Consumer behavior has been analyzed using
this strategy (MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976)
Technique Simultaneous scanning
Simultaneous scanning is testing many hypotheses
Technique Six Thinking Hats
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There are six metaphorical hats and the thinker can put on or
take off one of these hats to indicate the type of thinking being
used. This putting on and taking off is essential. The hats
must never be used to categorize individuals, even though their
behavior may seem to invite this. When done in group,
everybody wear the same hat at the same time.
White Hat thinking
This covers facts, figures, information needs and gaps. "I think
we need some white hat thinking at this point..." means Let's
drop the arguments and proposals, and look at the data base."
Red Hat thinking
This covers intuition, feelings and emotions. The red hat
allows the thinker to put forward an intuition without any ned
to justify it. "Putting on my red hat, I think this is a terrible
proposal." Ususally feelings and intuition can only be
introduced into a discussion if they are supported by logic.
Usually the feeling is genuine but the logic is spurious.The red
hat gives full permission to a thinker to put forward his or her
feelings on the subject at the moment.
Black Hat thinking
This is the hat of judgment and caution. It is a most valuable
hat. It is not in any sense an inferior or negative hat. The rior
or negative hat. The black hat is used to point out why a
suggestion does not fit the facts, the available experience, the
system in use, or the policy that is being followed. The black
hat must always be logical.
Yellow Hat thinking
This is the logical positive. Why something will work and why
it will offer benefits. It can be used in looking forward to the
results of some proposed action, but can also be used to find
something of value in what has already happened.
Green Hat thinking
This is the hat of creativity, alternatives, proposals, what is
interesting, provocations and changes.
Blue Hat thinking
This is the overview or process control hat. It looks not at the
subject itself but at the 'thinking' about the subject. "Putting on
my blue hat, I feel we should do some more green hat thinking
at this point." In technical terms, the blue hat is concerned
Technique SPAN voting strategy
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In groups of decision makers, each individual has their own
preferences for constraints. Using the SPAN voting strategy of
MacKinnon and MacKinnon (1969), these preferences can be
taken into account without aggregating them into a social
choice function. Each group member has a fixed number of
votes that he allocates to alternatives based on his preferences,
or to other group members to use if he feels they have more
expertise for this situation.
Storyboarding was originally a technique used by Disney to
help manage the production of their animated features. The
point is to be able to glance at the board and quickly see what
is going on and how you can add to it. You can use it to
immerse yourself and your group in a problem, then to plan,
brainstorm ideas, create communications, and organize.
Get several packs of three-by-five cards and bright markers.
Assemble key people in a room with a corkboard or a board
you can tape things to, then select a topic. Write the topic on
one of the three-by-five cards and post it on the board.
On the board sort cards into three categories: Topic Card (for
the main topic you'll be storyboarding); Header Cards (for
general points, categories), and Sub Cards (for ideas that fall
under the headers: details, ideas that develop).
Cards might look like this stacked vertically on a board:
The idea is to piggy back off each others' ideas and look for
interconnections among them. Consider every idea as relevant.
Structure the storyboarding into two sessions: The first is for
creative thinking (no criticism allowed! no matter how
constructive). The second is for critical thinking.
Technique Structural mechanisms
Structural mechanisms such as rules, procedures, or
environmental features, can assist decision makers in reducing
conflict. Redefining the conflict situation in reference to a
common, higher goal is a strategy to reduce conflict that
happens quite often in organizations. Strategies to restructure
the environment by changing communication channels or
placing buffers between conflicting parties or isolating them
from each other. Units of authority can issue directives to
reduce conflict, such as governmental directives. Mediation
and arbitration are strategies that can reduce conflict, mediation
by enhanced bargaining, and arbitration by directive
bargaining. Voting is a common democratic form of settling
conflict, and there are various forms, ranging from majority to
Technique Structured Interviews
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Structured interviews are used by the requirements engineer to
extract information about specific parts of the required
system. This then assumes that the interviewer has the
knowledge to ask the correct questions and that the
interviewee can answer them in a form which the engineer will
understand. With structured interviews it is very important
that the interviewer is in fact talking to the most appropriate
person for the information required. With detailed information
it is sometimes more informative to speak to a domain expert
than to the client, and then go back to the client to verify the
In preparation for a structured interview, the interviewer must
compile a list of unambiguous questions which can be posed to
the interviewee. The questions should be as direct as possible,
without preventing the interviewee from giving their opinion
or being able to elaborate. For example the question "you turn
the key clockwise to start the engine" may get the response
"yes" which is very direct, but miss out the important
information of checking that the car is in neutral beforehand.
Advantages of using structured interviews include:
direct (mostly unambiguous) answers
Disadvantages in using structured interviews include:
the engineer writing their interpretation of the answers
the engineer missing key points about the required system
the engineer not understanding the answer or the interviewee
misinterpreting the question.
the interviewee not answering the question fully.
the interviewee may miss related important information.
Technique subjective weighting model
A subjective weighting model would work the same way as the
bootstrapping method, but instead of deriving the preferences
the decision maker was using by his behavior, it would have
the decision maker specify preferences and plug them into the
formula as coefficients. The weighting of importance of
attributes can be related to their instrumentality in achieving
the goal. This is another way of explicitly describing the
decision making process statistically. Notice the similiarity to
Technique successive scanning
successive scanning tests the hypotheses one at a time
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Creative output increases with awareness of psychological
processes that control behavior. The emotional component of
creative behavior is more important than the intellectual
component; irrational components are more important than the
intellectual. The emotional, irrational components need to be
understood and used as precision tools to increase creative
Technique The Bucky Fuller Linking
"All things, regardless of their dissimilarity, can be linked
together either symbolically, physically, or psychologically,"
said Buckminster Fuller.
Technique The Discontinuity Principle
The more you are used to something, the less stimulating it is
for our thinking.
When you disrupt your thought patterns, those ideas that
create the greatest stimulus to our thinking do so because they
force us to make new connections in order to comprehend the
situation. Roger van Oech calls this a "Whack on the Side of
the Head", and Edward de Bono coined a new word, PO,
which stands for "Provocative Operation".
Try programming interruptions into your day. Change
working hours, get to work a different way, listen to a
different radio station, read some magazines or books you
wouldn't normally read, try a different recipe, watch a TV
program or film you wouldn't normally watch.
Provocative ideas are often stepping stones that get us
thinking about other ideas.
Abutting ideas next to each other, such that their friction
creates new thought-paths a technique that flourishes in the
east (haiku poetry and Zen koans) but causes discomfort in
Technique The Eight-step Basadur
One: Find the problem. Two: Find the facts around the
problem. Three: Define the problem. Four: Find ideas. Five:
Evaluate and select solutions from the ideas. Six: Plan actions
upon the selections. Seven: Gain acceptance for the solutions.
Eight: Take action on the solutions.
Technique The Golden Egg
Try to mentally reframe your problem so it doesn't look like a
problem. See your problem as a golden egg, unexpected wealth
just waiting for you.
Technique The Six Basic Questions
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In the rush of developing a product or a process, only of few
of these questions may be asked. Who, what, where, when,
how, and why. If someone complains that the answers to any
of these questions are obvious, it may be time to list those
Technique The Why Question
Ask why five times. This ancient Asian technique can help
you discover problems you've been missing. Here's an
example: "I ate an apple." "Why?" "Because I was hungry."
"Why?" "Because I skipped lunch." Why? "Because I had to
meet a deadline." "Why?" "Because I was afraid I'd get fired if
I missed it." "Why?" "Because I'm afraid of my boss."
Michael Michalko, in his book Thinkertoys describes the
rearrangement of the above questions (by Bob Eberle) into the
mnemonic SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine Adapt, Modify,
Put to other uses, Eliminate, Reverse).
Start applying these questions to your problems and see what
ideas come forth.
Technique Threshold Voting
Elke deelnemer mag vijf stemmen uitbrengen op de ideeŽn. Dat
mag gespreid over vijf ideeŽn, of meerdere stemmen op ťťn
Nadien worden alle ideeŽn weerhouden die zes of meer
Technique Triadic Elicitation
Suppose you wish to extend the knowledge by adding the
champagne wine Moet Chandon to the list of three elements.
It is easy to add this as a sweet, white, sparkling wine. You
would also like to extend the characterisation of the elements,
but are not sure how. Triadic elicitation can assist in this.
Using this feature, you can generate questions such as:
Are two of the following alike in some important way that
distinguishes them from the third:
Moet Chandon ?
Presented with this question, you are reminded that the cost of
the wines has remained hitherto unmentioned. You therefore
add the construct cost with the poles inexpensive and
expensive. In the RepGrid tool, a mid-range value is
automatically assigned to this construct for each element. This
value is easy to inspect and change.
Technique TRIZ Method (Savransky and
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Consider (1) that systems evolve uniformly and (2) an
inventive problem represents conflict between new
requirements and old systems. The solution may come from
investigating the evolution of the system.
Technique Unconscious Problem Solving
Think hard about your problem, then stop thinking about it,
then forget it for awhile, or go to sleep after telling yourself
that you will awaken with new ideas about your problem.
Then wait for the Eureka! Einstein had many of his great
solutions come to him in the shower.
Technique use conflicting opinions
The fourth is to use conflicting opinions. This comes from
Mason's (1969) two approaches, the devil's advocate and the
Hegelian dialectic, to improve the quality of the decision by
using conflict to reveal any hidden biases or invalid
assumptions in the preferred alternative.
Technique use position papers
A strategy is to use position papers to summarize each
decision maker's position. This can communicate to all
members of the group where everybody stands and why.
Groups can write position papers as well, which has the
benefit of clarifying the group's position and solidifying its
goals, values, etc. (MacCrimmon & Taylor, 1976).
Technique using maxi-min rules
A strategy is using maxi-min rules, choosing the action that
maximizes each member's minimum payoff.
Technique Viewpoint Analysis
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Viewpoint analysis takes the view that there are a number of
valid views of the system, all of which should be taken into
consideration when defining requirements. Requirements
elicitation using viewpoints is a service oriented method of
requirements elicitation. By service oriented, I mean it looks at
the way in which an entity (being either a user or an external
piece of software or hardware) interacts with the system,
providing data, control information or receiving a service from
the system. Kotonya defines a viewpoint as a method of
capturing the essence of viewpoint orientations and providing
a framework for exploring the viewpoint structure. Kotonya
also identifies that viewpoint analysis must also exist with
system analysis, providing both a viewpoint layer and a
system layer to the system model. In this instance, the
viewpoint layer identifies the viewpoint entities in the system
environment and associates them with any services they
require. The system layer identifies system entities
responsible for providing services to the viewpoint layer
[Kotonya and Sommerville '92].
Rzepka decomposes viewpoint elicitation process as follows
Identify the relevant parties which are sources of
requirements. The party might be an end user, an interfacing
system, or environmental factors.
Gather the "wish list" for each relevant party. This wish list is
likely to originally contain ambiguities, inconsistencies,
infeasible requirements and untestable requirements, as well as
probably being incomplete.
Document and refine the "wish list" for each relevant party.
The wish list includes all important activities and data, and
during this stage it is repeatedly analysed until it is
self-consistent. The list is typically high level, specific to the
relevant problem domain, and stated in user-specific terms.
Integrate the wish lists across the various relevant parties,
henceforth called viewpoints, thereby resolving the conflicts
between the viewpoints. Consistency checking is an important
part of this process. The wish lists, or goals are also checked
Determine the non-functional requirements, such as
performance and reliability issues, and state these in the
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This is a specific Anchored Rating Scale methodology
developed by Applied Marketing Science, Inc. Each
requirement is put on a card (each card has a unique number).
Ask each customer to place the requirements that are related to
each other in separate stacks. Then, the card most
representative of each stack is put on top.
Each customer then assigns 100 points to the most important
stack and each other stack is scored relative to that stack.
Ranking within each stack is then done. Importance ratings of
each customer requirement are computed by multiplying the
overall stack importance times the importance of the card in
People like the physical cards to work with
The Vocalyst statistical process is quite rigorous for initially
determining the customer requirements and then establishing
Technique working backwards
To solve complex decision problems, decision maker can work
in two directions, forward and backward. Most problems are
attacked in a forward direction, trying some method of attack,
and checking progress. Some problems are more easily solved
working backwards from the desired end state. A combination
of both strategies can also be used (MacCrimmon & Taylor,
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Tip: the left pane works like windows explorer!