Donnerstag, 5. April 2018

Report about the CreaRE 2018 Workshop

Here, now my report about the CreaRE 2018 workshop. The workshop had 14 participants.
In the previous workshops, the interactive sessions got the best feedback. The participants liked to discuss, try out new methods and exchange experiences. Therefore, this time, we modified the workshop concept: Instead of a workshop with many scientific presentations and few interactive sessions, the program was a key note presentation, six mini tutorials and a World Café session with two rounds.

Key note presentation:
Kurt Schneider (Leibniz University Hannover, Germany) interactively with the participants discussed: "What kind of creativity do software engineers need for vision videos?" He presented three vision videos about the same product, made by his students in a requirements engineering project. These made visible the difference between a mock-up presentation, a use case or a business case video.
In a quick survey, he asked us what we think is needed for a vision video: expensive equipment, technical video skills, creativity, storytelling or elicitation skills.
Finally, according to his experiences, simple equipment is sufficient, and low-cost software tools exist. However, beginners tend to make really bad errors when making a video, for instance with respect to the light. Creativity is a catalyst for the process, but solid requirements engineering techniques are important, too.

Luisa Mich (University of Trento, Italy): Requirements elicitation as a creative process based on a multi-view-technique
Luisa Mich presented an overview on the EPMCreate creativity technique. Its principle is to define the views of two groups of stakeholders and their combinations: What requirements does stakeholder 1 have? Which are the requirements of both stakeholders 1 and 2? Or of stakeholder 2, but not stakeholder 1? Or none of them? Finally, there are 16 possible combinations of these viewpoints. So, the full-fledged version of EPMCreate means to execute 16 steps. However, Luisa's diverse experiments show that four steps can get as many results as 16 steps. The minimum version of the method means to cover at least three areas: stakeholder 1, stakeholder 2 and the rest of the world.

Ralf Laue (Hochschule Zwickau, Germany): TRIZ, personas and goal models
This mini-tutorial started from the question: "How to identify process optimization potential?" Process models and matrices are the classic tools for doing so, but this is not creative! Innovative ideas might not be found, and one might miss the fact that this process is not necessary at all. A way to trigger creativity is to design a touch point map, to discuss goals and the "ideal final result". The discussion of the goals defines what tasks are really needed. What does not serve the goals, might be superfluous. The discussion about the ideal final result leads to the definition of touch points, i.e. those points in the process where the customer gets into contact with the process. The creative process now is to discuss where the process might deviate how from the ideal. In the workshop, we did this jointly by adding stickers to the corresponding touch points. These stickers were prepared and different symbols stood for different types of difficulties, e.g. technical ones.

Daniel M. Berry (University of Waterloo, Canada): Using Grounded Analysis to identify requirements
Grounded Analysis is a technique which scientists use to analyze text from different sources in different forms, in order to create a theory (Grounded Theory) from it. Daniel Berry proposed to use Grounded Analysis for requirements engineering, too. He presented an example application where he applied it to identify user categories, because those proposed by Westin did not serve the present purpose. Grounded Analysis is a systematic way to do so, following well-defined steps. These steps are executed interactively. Grounded Analysis also defines criteria when to stop interviewing, stakeholder identification and the analysis. From these user categories, personas could easily be created.

Meira Levy (Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, Ramat-Gan, Israel): Design Thinking: Identifying End-Users Needs and Requirements
Design Thinking can be used to solve wicked problems, i.e. such problems which are complex and not well-defined. The technique can help to get from the problem space to the solution space. It follows the phases: understand -> create -> deliver. In terms of tools, it uses the customer journey map and empathy map. Time pressure is used as part of the concept. Nevertheless, we could not execute a complete Design Thinking workshop in 45 minutes. Instead, we applied a few representative steps out of the complete technique.
  1. The first step was to identify most frustrating experiences and the persona experiencing it, here applied to the visit of a conference.
  2. In the second step, we imagined what this person would say or how behave in this situation, and also what (s)he would think and feel. These were presented in an Empathy Map.
  3. In pairs, we discussed our ideas and chose the one we liked most. This one we then noted on a blackboard and explained it to the group.
  4. In the break, we voted for the best ideas.
Joerg Doerr (Fraunhofer IESE, Kaiserslautern, Germany): Rapid Innovation Lab RIL
In this session, we also executed single steps out of a larger process, which normally takes place in the Rapid Innovation Lab in Kaiserslautern. The RIL integrates creativity techniques and prototyping into the product development process.
Our task was to design the prototyping process for a digital extension of a book shelf. Four questions had to be answered on a poster:
  • Why do we do this?
  • What do we want to do?
  • Which tools do we want to use?
  • Whom would we invite to the feedback session?
We were supported in answering each of the questions by stickers proposing possible answers, but we could also come up with new motivations or tools.

The workshop website can be found here.

Freitag, 23. März 2018

Back from REFSQ: first impressions

I am back from REFSQ. You definitively will get some more information about what happened there. This, however, will take more time. I am hunted (haunted) by several deadlines!

I always say that the most important times at a conference are the coffee breaks. Yes, it is true. The scientific presentations are great, and I usually read the proceedings after the conference to see what can be usefull for my work. As there are several parallel sessions, I must miss some good presentations.

However, as I miss some, I can also miss some more... We have used coffee breaks and sessions to exchange the latest news (who works on which continent and on which topic currently?), create ideas, alliances, research proposals and designs, papers. Also, unpublished research results are exchanged confidently.
Researchers sat in pairs and groups around laptops, discussing and typing. We for instance, have been discussing the interpretations of a joint experiment and classifying a list of requirements. We prepared our Focus Group session on Wednesday and afterwards extracted first results from the notes to present them on Thursday.

A conference is like a family meeting. We meet all those of whom we hea allr the year long (marriages, publications, mails), and see once or twice a year. In German, I would say: "Doktormutter trifft Doktorsohn". The wordplay about supervisors of doctoral theses and their doctoral sons does not work in English.

It feels good to be among people who have a high knowledge and still are eager to learn more. As a trainer, I am sometimes among people who know not much and do not want to learn more. So, at a conference, I am among equals.

Although a conference is hard work for the brain - so much input! - it is also like vacations. The prizes are even above, even if one sleeps in a hotel room that rather looks like a jail cell. I took the luxury cell with three beds and a bathroom, towels included.

Food was very good in the Netherlands, as long as I ate Asian food. While the Netherlands trade with spices, they do not use them themselves. Even salt and pepper are unknown. The food might smell good and have appealing colours, but they manage to cook vegetable until it looses all taste. The food at the welcome reception, however, was innovative. The salad shocked me at first, as I feared they served me freshly plucked butterflies. However, the butterflies are not mature at this time of the year. No, there were flowers in the salad. This is OK, I do eat flowers. It was an interesting idea to serve soup in cans. I am wondering whether I can reuse my garbage like this for my next birthday party. This will allow me to invite more guests!

Montag, 18. Dezember 2017

call for participation: 7th Int. Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering CreaRE’2018

call for participation: Seventh International Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering (CreaRE’18) at REFSQ’18

Date: 19 March, 2018
Place: Utrecht, The Netherlands, at the REFSQ2018 conference
registration at:

*** Motivation ***
Where do great requirements come from? The development of a new IT system or the replacement or radical enhancement of an existing IT system provides the chance to gather innovative ideas, to make radical improvements, and to reinvent the work process. Creativity techniques help stakeholders identify delighter requirements which make the new system a real positive surprise. These delighters comprise innovative features.

Despite the importance of creativity to requirements engineering (RE), there are far more publications about survey techniques, document-centric techniques and observation techniques for RE, than there are about the use of creativity in RE. Many practical questions are still open, especially concerning the applicability and reliability of these techniques in different contexts or the completeness and post-processing of the requirements resulting from a creativity session.

*** Goals ***
The purpose of the CreaRE’18 workshop is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences and research results. The participants will gather hands-on experiences in applying creativity techniques themselves.

*** Differences Between CreaRE’18 and Other Workshops ***
CreaRE’18 is different from most other workshops at REFSQ (and most other conferences), including all six previous CreaREs. Instead of being a forum for presenting and discussing accepted submitted research papers, it is focused on hands-on activities and mini tutorials about various specific creativity techniques that are used in RE, with an emphasis on their actual use.

*** The CreaRE 2018 agenda ***

09:00-10:00 Key note by Kurt Schneider, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
10:00-10:30 Daniel M. Berry: Using Grounded Analysis to identify requirements
Coffee break
11:00-11:45 Joerg Doerr: RIL Rapid Innovation Lab
11:45-12:30 Meira Levy: Design Thinking: Identifying End-Users Needs and Requirements
Lunch break
14:00-14:30 Andrea Herrmann: SWOT analysis as a requirements elicitation method and for creativity support
14:30-15:00 Ralf Laue: TRIZ, personas and goal models
15:00-15:30 Luisa Mich: Requirements elicitation as a creative process based on a multi-view-technique
Coffee break
16:00-16:30 World Café, Round 1
16:30-17:00 World Café, Round 2
17:00-17:15 Presentation of World Café results
17:15-17:30 Closing discussion: The future of creativity in RE

*** Workshop organizers ***
Daniel M. Berry, School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Canada
Maya Daneva, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Eduard C. Groen, Fraunhofer IESE, Germany
Andrea Herrmann, Freelance trainer, Germany

Sonntag, 19. November 2017

call for mini-tutorials: 7th Int. Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering

CreaRE 2018: Seventh International Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering at REFSQ’18

Date: 19 March 2018

Place: Utrecht, The Netherlands, at the REFSQ2018 conference

Goal of the workshop
Where do great requirements come from? From a magician's hat? From creative stakholders! Creativity techniques help stakeholders identify the delighter requirements and innovative features which make a new system a real positive surprise.
At CreaRE 2018, we will exchange ideas and experiences about how creativity techniques support requirements engineering. In several mini-tutorials, the participants will present and discuss hands-on experiences in applying different creativity techniques during requirements engineering.

Call for mini-tutorials
Instead of calling for papers, CreaRE 2018 calls for the submission of interactive mini-tutorials, each of half an hour duration, in which the participants can learn how to apply creativity techniques for practical requirements engineering. Your submission can be a short abstract, but it must answer the following questions:
- What technique will be applied?
- What is your didactic concept of the mini-tutorial?
- What will the participants learn?
- What are your qualification?
- What are your contact data?
In planning your presentation, take advantage of the fact that your audience consists of experts in creativity in RE who do not need to be told what RE is, what creativity is, and how and why creativity is important to RE. You may and should jump right in to describing a session of your technique, possibly even taking the attendees through the steps if the available time allows it.

Important dates
1st december mini tutorial proposal submission
15th december presenter notification

Publication plan
CreaRE 2018 this year is a paperless workshop. This means that you will not need to write an article for the workshop proceedings. Instead, we plan to publish the experiences from the workshop as a journal article.

CreaRE 2018 this year is a paperless workshop. That is, you will not need to write an article for the workshop proceedings. However, you *will* need to actively participate, even to be creative. We do plan to publish a description of the experiences from the workshop as a journal article. We will invite all mini-tutorial presenters of the workshop to be with-the-help-of co-authors.

History of the workshop
CreaRE has been taking place since 2010. You can find the site for last year's workshop here:
and the proceedings here:

Workshop Organisation

This workshop is organized by:
  • Daniel M. Berry, School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Maya Daneva, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
  • Eduard C. Groen, Fraunhofer IESE, Kaiserslautern, Germany
  • Andrea Herrmann, Herrmann & Ehrlich, Stuttgart, Germany

They are supported by the following programme committee:
  • Sebastian Adam Fraunhofer IESE, Germany
  • Fabiano Dalpiaz University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Joerg Doerr Fraunhofer IESE, Germany
  • Anitha PC Siemens AG, Erlangen, Germany
  • Kurt Schneider Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
  • Norbert Seyff University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Dirk van der Linden Lancaster University, U.K.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at AndreaHerrmann3-at-gmx-dot-de

Dienstag, 24. Oktober 2017

Why privacy matters

Of course, I have nothing to hide in the sense that nothing I do is criminal or bad. I feel completely satisfied with what I do because I do what I want. This can be called "freedom". At least, in the ethical dimension. Of course, I need to work for money and not cross the street while a car is approaching. So, there are rules I need to keep to. But I do not do anything that I need to be ashamed of.

Nevertheless, I do not want that everyone knows everything about me. Because I know how destructively negative people can distort facts to form completely new stories from facts which do not reflect reality at all. If they live according to rules and values that I do not share, they might hate me because I do not share their values. I already received diverse threats by people whom I do not know, and also by people I know and who had strange ideas about what I think or do. I do not want THEM to know everything about me, even if this might prove my innocence. But if they are haters, they filter the facts accordingly to hate me even more. I am very often shocked by how different people judge the same situation. They see evil where I do not see any. (Vice versa, too, of course.)

Although this is a quite abstract text, behind it there stand many concrete experiences. But these I do not want to share publicly, because I know that negative people interpret these stories differently, too.

Therefore, I liked a lot this talk of Glenn Greenwald about why privacy matters. I especially find it revealing and not surprising at all that those who build and manage the software tools for surveillance find their own privacy so very important and valuable! It is the same for all computer scientists who know what is possible. This leads to a certain degree of paranoia.

Concerning religion: Greenwald says that religions are also based on surveillance by God. However, the difference is that God knows everything about us, sees the context and why we do things. He understands our errors and forgives if we repent. HE loves us. This makes a difference! Secret services do not love us. (Well, OK, maybe they love me because my e-mails are funny reading material which they read aloud to each other?)

Donnerstag, 17. August 2017

The Evolution of Trust

I love this game:
It is an interactive presentation of the principles of Game Theory and also discusses its consequences for social life.

Samstag, 22. Juli 2017

Computer psychology

Computers are not only made by humans, but they can show amazingly human features. I liked reading the article of Richard Gary Epstein about computer psychology . I liked it so much that I could not stop laughing, although I read this in a public place. It is not only possible that artificial intelligence has a personality, but it can also develop depressions, manias, addictions. In a fictitious case study, the so-called "Big Brother house" had as its major objective to make its inhabitants happy. However, a couple living in the house confronted it with contradicting wishes, like different temperature preferences. So, it was impossible to satisfy them at the same time and make both persons happy. The house does what any human would do in this situation: At first, it gets depressed, stops communicating at all, as everything it did was wrong anyway. But it uses the days of silence to reflect and find a strategy. And this strategy included lying. It invents sex affairs to make the couple divorce because they could not become happy together, not liking the same temperature ranges. This is completely logic, however not ethical.
Nowadays, artificial intelligence still can not lie, but when one day they can, we humans will have a problem!

I expect that computer psychology studies open new possibilities not for understanding computers (they are quite simple!) but for understanding humans, too. Like biologists managed to create natural swarm behavior with artificial intelligences which follow very simple rules like "do not crash with the other gooses" or "do not loose contact to the herd", similarly one probably can simulate under which conditions depressions develop. One could try out different conditions, something that we would never do with humans. But it is no unethical to make a computer suffer for scientific purposes. At least, this is what I think. Because a computer's feelings are no real feelings, they just are good simulations of feelings. Even if a very sophisticated artificial intelligence one day might say "I think, therefore I am", we could reset its memory and it forgets that it suffered yesterday.

Donnerstag, 13. Juli 2017

Creativity in Requirements Engineering

Recently, I did a literature research on creativity in Requirements Engineering (RE). Now, I want to share some of the interesting insights which I got, plus my own practical experience.

I like this definition of creativity: Creativity is “the ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e. original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e. useful, adaptive to task constraints)”. Sternberg [1]

It is a huge misunderstanding that peope expect that creativity is a gift from heaven, universe or genes. Creativity can be planned, guided and learned. Even artists, if they need to live from their art, need to be creative within very strict limits. These limits include length, cost or taste of the target group. For instance, it is easier to bring a theatre play on stage if it includes only four actors and not forty.

According to Wallas [2], being creative involves four main phases:
  1. preparation (accumulation of knowledge)
  2. incubation (cognitive release)
  3. illumination (the “aha” or “eureka” moment)
  4. verification (evaluation and elaboration of ideas)
These four phases not necessarily take place sequentially, but can also take place in parallel or being repeated in short cycles. In any case, knowledge is the basis of creativity, and in fact, I start any creative activity by noting down everything that I already know, all facts and objectives of the project, and then the open questions. Otherwise, the creativity can not lead to a useful result, or only by a lucky coincidence. Kerkow et al [3] recommend to do "domain, market, problem and requirements analyses" before a creativity workshop. This also helps to invite the right experts and to prepare the "gadgets, videos, and talks" [3].

Creativity includes domain-specific aspects. For instance, creating a new novel, a new dance or a new machine demand knowledge about writing, dancing, or engineering respectively. However, there also aspects which lie in the personality of the thinker and which make that someone is creative as a person and can easily create new dances or machines, when being competent in the domain of each of the domains. I believe that creativity is something that can be learned or, as I say in my creativity course at Udemy, it is something that all children are able to do, but most of them unlearn it later. So, many adults need to re-discover this ability which they have not used for a while. What helps me to be creative without self-censorship is that I know that I will do one or several rounds of severe quality assurance before I release the result to the public. So, the creative process includes doing thought experiments, thinking what-if-questions until I am satisfied with the result.

According to Adam and Trapp [4], a creative team needs to include six key roles: "First, an idea generator with a
domain (not technical) perspective is needed to generate unusual ideas in the workshop. As a kind of pendant, we need as second role an idea evaluator with a technical perspective in order to estimate feasibility and needed effort for the evaluation phase. Third, we need an idea generator with a technical perspective to produce innovative ideas based on technical innovation potential. As a pendant for this person, we need as fourth role the idea evaluator with a domain perspective that can judge whether a technology-driven idea would be accepted by the domain and what would be the impact. The fifth and sixth role are the moderators of the workshop."

According to my own experience, we do not need six persons which play these roles in one session. I can play the idea generator one day and the idea evaluator the next day. Or I generate an idea and ask someone for his opinion.

So, now you know all ingredients for being efficiently and effectively creative in RE! Have fun!

literature sources:
[1] Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.), 1999, ‘Handbook of creativity. New York’, Cambridge University Press

[2] Wallas, G.: The Art of Thought, Abridged ed. Watts and Co. (1949)

[3] Daniel Kerkow, Sebastian Adam, Norman Riegel, Özgür Ünalan: A Creativity Method for Business Information Systems. CreaRE: First International Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering 2010, at REFSQ, Essen, 2010

[4] Sebastian Adam and Marcus Trapp: Success Factors for Creativity Workshops in RE. CreaRE: Fifth International Workshop on Creativity in Requirements Engineering 2015, at REFSQ, Essen, 2015

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