pablo pernot

Event Storming, a description

The event storming is a very simple workshop. A few rules are enough. It is also very effective and often useful. I was able to mention it in this article in 2016(french), my current situation leads me to talk about it again today.

The event storming is, to paraphrase Thomas Pierrain, a real way of harmonizing mental models, in two words, attuning people. It is common to discover people’s surprise when their activity is revealed through visual management through a Kanban system(french). It is the same surprise I observe when they look at a sharing of their process. Because it is the process for which the event storming is the revealing one.

The idea of event storming is to make this process visible. To do this, as its creator, Alberto, reminds us, you need space and tons of stickers. On this space a timeline is represented by craft paper over a few meters. Stickers will be glued to it, the colour codes of which will be well respected, and on which care will have been taken to write well in capital letters. Then the objective will be to make the process tangible, what happens in real life, on this timeline. The interest being to truly perceive its convolutions, its troughs, its overloads, all the signals that we do not see otherwise, and above all to see them all together, with all the actors.

Basic principles

  • Thus a large timeline usually represented by 5 to 10 meters of craft paper.
  • Coloured stickers.
  • A few hours ahead of you.
  • A group of people composed by the actors in relation to the defined process.

Step 1: we indicate the events

The events will be the central elements. They are the ones who are spreading on the timeline. Very important they are described with: an adjective, a verb with a past participle: “contracts sent”, “polished stones”, “registration received”, “order form generated”, etc. It is important to keep this formalism. It helps us to make these elements temporal markers (on a timeline), and they contain an impact, an action, that is completed.

So we usually start for a long time only with events. And if you can, normally it’s quite easy, you ask first to delimit the beginning and the end: what is the first event in the process that we want to observe, bring out, and the last. You mark the starting point and the end point.

The timeline fills up with orange stickers. With large groups (12-20 people), subgroups usually form quickly along the wall.

The timeline is not just a line, you can see the different paths of the same action.

It’s chaotic. That’s normal. The process that everyone has modelled in their own way explodes on this solid surface.

Many conversations are flourishing everywhere. That’s very good, that’s the objective.

Twenty minutes as one hour or more may be enough.

Finish this step with a storytelling attempt: ask someone, or several people, to tell the story of the process as it appeared. This will probably be an opportunity to review it again, to clarify it, to change it, to align it. This may lead you to extend this first step.

As a facilitator you don’t have to reframe a lot of things. Let them take possession of their space. Don’t forget the storytelling.

*Here are the “remains” of an explanation about a small event storming with “Peetic”.

EventStorming

EventStorming

EventStorming

EventStorming

Step 2: Actors, data, adhesions

When you think that this is the right time (but I suggest a minimum after the first phase of storytelling) you can suggest to the actors to place on the events two other types of stickers: the actors (without limits of number), the key data (limited to 3). We limit the data, because otherwise we forget what matters and it is important to revalue them. We do not limit the actors to bring out the potential reasons for bottlenecks (too many actors, or not enough actors).

Finally, you can ask to make adhesions (or events) emerge on a line that overlooks the timeline: all the dependencies to which the process is subjected.

After one, two or three hours, we obtain a pretty fresco that represents the process (for example: from the idea of a new product to its availability in store).

It is still interesting to go back to storytelling, that is, telling the events as they unfold, as we experience them “in real life” to ensure that the fresco, despite all the cross-eyed looks and conversations, has not drifted too far from reality.

EventStorming

EventStorming

EventStorming

Step 3: It’s up to you

Depending on your context you may decide to add other elements, taking care that they do not saturate the visual management and always allow us to read things: bottlenecks, hollows, etc. We can cut vertically or horizontally large ensembles, we can comment on the timeline (write labels). I quite often propose to highlight the key events in the timeline and ask all the questions that seem interesting. The material on offer is generally flexible enough for a lot of reflection and conversation, especially since it is usually part of everyday life.

Clearly display the “legend” somewhere that indicates which type the sticker color corresponds to. For example, orange for events, yellow for actors, green for data, pink for adhesions.

EventStorming

EventStorming

Here is an example that introduces another family of stickers: triggers. This is an element that exists in Alberto’s original event storming. It should not be forgotten that it is initially a tool to make the implicit explicit for developments. At the origin of the events, there are therefore triggers. Each element of an event storming is intended to represent a development concept. In my practice, triggers have also become events, because I don’t often work with the code. You will also observe temporal events.

EventStorming

When to use it?

When you need to agree, to harmonize, the point of view of different actors on what is happening in reality on a subject. Event storming is a great conversation about a process made tangible.

Its outcome remains ephemeral, the process continues to evolve, the process is not reduced to the choices proposed during the session. But the benefits of this workshop are well worth it.

What can it initiate ?

  • A better understanding by each actor of his or her role and process. And thus a rapprochement between actors, better decision-making?

  • A Kanban system(french) : you have a great opportunity to cut out the different steps, to highlight the cards that will feed this Kanban system (for example, “contract sent” can become a “contract” card and go through “to do”, “selection”, “in progress”, “finished” steps, to remain very classic)?

  • A re-composition of the teams?

  • A work the process itself: to lighten it? Balancing it? Strengthen it?


event storming eventstorming peetic