Empathy Quoting – A new take on the Risk Register

By 17th November 2013 Agile, UX No Comments

In the bad old days of Prince 2 project managers would cobble together a document called a Risk Register. The purpose was to try and predict anything that could go wrong with a project and then come up with a plan to mitigate the problem. While the sentiment was sound these documents were focussed around business need and (in my experience) were rarely designed with the user in mind. They are also (by their nature) very negative, which isn’t a great way to start a project!

Newer Agile and Lean methodologies do away with the need of the Risk Register because the iterative nature of development means that the project can roll with the punches but I still believe that getting the project team to give some thought to possible project outcomes (both positive and negative) isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

With this in mind I designed a quick workshop exercise that I used last week during the final stages of Sprint 0. Feel free to adapt and let me know if you have any suggestions. (Hat tip to Gamestorming from where I borrowed the game format)

 

TITLE – Empathy Quotes

 

OBJECTIVE – The objective of this exercise is to get the team to think of possible user reactions to the launch of your product. It also gives all team members a chance to air any possible concerns they have before a project starts.

 

NUMBER OF PLAYERS – 3-10 (if possible include all the project team including stakeholders)

 

DURATION OF PLAY – 15-30 minutes

 

HOW TO PLAY – Firstly get the team to identify all the parties who have an interest in the outcomes of the product and write these up onto a whiteboard. (The product I’m currently designing is for schools so our groups included students, teachers, parents and, because of the business importance, we also included senior stakeholders.)

Next hand out sticky notes to all of the team and then give them 5 minutes to individually write down as many likely quotes as they can think of from all the various parties both positive and negative.

When the 5 minutes is up get the team to take turns to read out their quotes and encourage the team to discuss their thoughts on the quote. The quotes can then be posted up under the various party titles and duplicates can be grouped.

 

Empathy Quote Board

Real example of an Empathy Quote board

Close up of the quotes

Close up shot of some of the quotes we captured as part of the workshop

STRATEGY – Get the team to talk about the quotes and give special attention to areas where the quotes have been grouped. Get the team to think about how they can capitalise on the positives and possible strategies for coping with any negative issues that may arise further down the line.

Keep hold of the quotes for the end of the project as they could also be used to refer back to when the product is launched.

 

Author Mat Walker

More posts by Mat Walker

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