All user scenarios and no play

From Friday. Originally posted to my Wordpress

It’s been another 11 hour day at work. Rewarding. Fun. But challenging. A change from what I was doing last week before I was grabbed for a new project, courtesy of my ex-Director who is of a good man of the highest character, whom I ran into in the lobby on my way in from a lonely walk around Tuggeranong. He had his higher-ups call my higher-ups. They spoke. I moved. Temporarily. It’s how it happens in the public service, and I was starving for a change like a man thirsty for knowledge craves books.

I return to the challenging part. I spent the weekend orientating myself on the new project. I know I can’t fuck up this one. My ex-team and work have been so awful this year that I am left employing all the techniques of cognitive behaviour I have been taught. I feel the cracks every day as I drag myself out of bed, to my next meeting, to the same cafe I visit every day, they’re big this time I know others have been seeing them. I do not like to get annoyed: helping others has always been a primary faculty. I’m afraid I’ll be stuck in this team for more time than my mental health will allow for. If I impress people here, more opportunities will come up and I will escape my awful work situation on a more permanent basis. Remember, temporary project only. Then it’s back to prison.

The aim of the game is building a business case. First Pass. For a system redesign. There are tensions between business and IT. The business don’t know what they want. IT have to deliver and cost estimate it regardless. An old story with familiar heroes.

On Monday, I tear through discussions with the business. I am trying to find out what they need in the new system, what they want, why they aren’t happy with IT. They seem refreshed, pleasantly surprised at my interest. My Director wants user scenarios before the business have decided what they want. I am happy to help them along. I am happier to hear, when we get some good outcomes from him: “Exactly what I’d hoped has happened! This young man has got the business talking to us.” The Architects haven’t been happy. There’s no current state design documentation and they don’t want to re-engineer it. But they like that I’m on board as I speak tech-speak, Elvish, and English, and if the mood takes me pigeon-French.

Tuesday, I start on the user scenarios, having mapped up the capabilities the business want to their ill-defined high level requirements spreadsheet on Monday. Let me divert. Business capabilities are what the business need to acheive (remembering IT is an enabler). Requirements are what the system needs to do to enable these capabilities. User scenarios are interactions users will have to meet those requirements.

Capabilities → Requirements → User Scenarios.

I type up all the minutes from Monday’s meeting and send out. I don’t know it yet, but it’s 11AM and I am due to present these user scenarios at 1PM. I find out at 12. Panic. Skip lunch. Not great practice for someone who has a multi-vitamin and VitalGreens superfoods nutrient water for breakfast. I don’t have many user scenarios — it’s been all of a day and half, and the first day spent working with the business. I present the high level capabilities list I’ve developed, and bring up an example user scenario. It works. Everyone is happy. We’re on the same page.

Wednesday, I finish up the user scenarios at 11:30PM. Not AM. In three days, I have done 70 user scenarios and 40 quality constraints, mapping them up to the 10 high level capabilities, and I have created the full list of user/actors in the end state system. All created myself from nothing but discussions and document analysis of the little documentation we do have. I create a Pivot Table to easily drill up and drill down between high level and detail, as much as you want. All for the mighty cause of the business case we are all desperately trying to build like ants rushing to construct a nest. I am proud of the effort and what I’ve achieved in a sort space of time.

I email the scenarios to my Director for feedback. We have a meeting with the Architect. I see the cracks appearing again with each frown on his face. Anxiety kicks in. My terminology in the scenarios is off beat. He gives me some great suggestions. But he looks strangely at it all. “Are these even scenarios?” he asks. “Yes,” the Architect sitting next to me replies. Thank God. Isn’t this what he asked for? I want to tell him that the user scenarios are too detailed for first pass business case: that all he needs me to do is the 10 high level capabilities, with descriptions, so I suggest it. He ignores it and keeps drilling down into the user scenarios. I go away with lots of suggestions. It’s not so bad. Relief.

Then I get back to my desk, an email from the business saying the user scenarios are too detailed and keep it to the capabilities. The email is terse, unhappy. It CC’s in higher ups I wouldn’t be comfortable with having in there. More conflict. Why can I never do it 100% right at work? I always feel like my judgement is just one step behind the eight-ball: maybe I’m in the wrong industry, but it’s an existential crisis I have been lumbering through since I first walked through the doors of American Express on June 6, 2009, to start my IT career. It’s 6:30PM and I have to head to swimming else my head will explode. So I do.

I swim with a friend. I have too much going on in life to warrant worrying about it. It is absolutely crazy: only three lanes open and everyone rushing into each other like cars on a highway in peak hour. It feels like peak hour.

Now, sitting at my desk. I’ve SMS’d Brent, my Business Analyst mentor and all around BA genius from Defence. He gives me tips. Brent is a grounded, non-bullshitter, genuinely good, dependable character. He recommends I take up colouring in, but only with Derwett pencils. I watch Westworld. A sci fi about creating android-people for an amusement park, I can see where it’s heading but the buildup is so intense and keeps me wanting more.

It’s 12:30AM and I’ve joined medium. I don’t know why. I’m feeling a bit melancholy and writing is a reflective tool that helps me. I don’t do it often enough, and I need to. I also need to meditate. My personal improvement initiatives have been on hold of late: I have been keeping up budgeting, exercise and reading, but not creating, sharing, writing. They need to be enforced once more. The hour is late and it’s witching hour outside.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.