The Telephone Translation Game

Elisabeth Hendrickson brought up the point, that BDUF (Big Design Up-front) is not comparable to the Telephone Game played by children. The more appropriate analogy is language translation, where you get Lost in translation. She describes the usual requirements gathering, writing a system concept, writing a design document, writing code phase to a translation process several languages:

The business person tells a story in BizSpeak to the Business Analyst who interprets it and retells it in BA-Speak (perhaps in terms of “Must,” “Should,” and “May” functional requirements) to the Systems Analyst who retells it in SysSpeak (perhaps UML Use Cases and/or Sequence Diagrams) to the Programmer who must translate it into TechSpeak (maybe State Models, Class Diagrams, and ERDs) and then code. The languages may have some commonalities, but they have a lot of differences too.

Though I was right getting off to bed, I needed to share this. Elisabeth enlightens the reader with a serious of sentence translations into different languages and then back to english ending up with a screwed up sentence. The key point is the fact to get everyone together in a project to share a common language on the software product your trying to build. Eric Evans called this the ubiquitous language and it is a key concept in Gojko Adzic’s book on bridging the communication gap.

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