I have spent considerable time in the south, specifically North Carolina. My dad was retired Special Forces and closed out his career at FortBragg (we lived in SpringLake). Those not from the south, or have not spent much time here, may not know about sweet iced tea. Sweet tea is a wonderfully refreshing concoction, especially in the summer. It is ubiquitous with copious flows from most restaurants. Sometimes I go out to lunch with my family. The wait staff comes to the table and takes our drink order. My wife requests sweet tea. My son requests water or some other drink. Then I request sweet iced tea. My family then gives me some good natured ribbing for ordering the “sweet iced tea”. I explain, if I order sweet tea alone, the tea can come back directly from the tea urn (tepid) they will not have delivered what I want, but will have met what I have asked. If they come back with a hot cup of sweet tea, they likewise have successfully delivered what I want. In both instances, their effort will have met my verbiage, but totally missed the target, wasting their time and mine. I would not like the results
It is like this also when it comes to requirements. Without this detail, we rely upon assumptions other interpretation and perspective to creep into the needs or wants. We open the range of possible interpretations when we communicate in this less than specific way. Of course, there are probably times when we are less particular. In those instances, our communication can be a little subjective, but we must be ready for the consequences.
When we are working on our requirements, we should think this way. Where specifics matter, we should clearly and carefully articulate as precisely as we can to reduce the possibility of a misinterpretation.Tags: communication, product development, requirements management