Re: The Snowball Technique (Stone Soup)

Subject: Re: The Snowball Technique (Stone Soup)
From: Barb Ostapina <Barb -dot- Ostapina -at- EXPERIAN -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 1 Sep 1998 16:41:57 -0500

This IS a great technique... when you plan it that way. But when you plan
to commit time to making a little snowball, and then it turns out to be a
big one, well, it's not always a pleasant thing. Beware the estimator!
Maybe it's a function of the fact that we have so much going on
simultaneously here (and I'm the only tech writing sort), but I sometimes
have to take the little snowball estimator's word about the scope of the
effort on a document (because I don't always have the luxury of being in on
a project early enough or deeply enough to scope it out myself, and I'm
eager to believe I can get it done quickly and get it off my plate). I hate
it when that little snowball runs amuck down a BIG hill.
barb -dot- ostapina -at- experian -dot- com
...speaking only for myself.

JIMCHEVAL -at- AOL -dot- COM on 09/01/98 01:32:04 PM

Please respond to JIMCHEVAL -at- AOL -dot- COM

cc: (bcc: LOMBMML Ostapina Barb/Lombard/Metromail)
Subject: The Snowball Technique (Stone Soup)

It just occured to me this morning that some of my fairly thick procedures
on my current project have been created by a snowball effect. To whit:

1. Someone tells me 'we don't really have a procedure for that'.
2. I ask them what information DOES exist.
3. They give me a few lines of information.
4. I type those up.
5. I give the typed up version to someone else in the process. who says,
"Well, that's almost true - except that we also do the following." And
adds/corrects lines.
6. I take it back to the first person who responds, usually by remembering
yet something else.
7. After several iterations of this sort, I find myself with something like
actual first draft. Maybe I even see spots where a diagram would help.
8. A few drafts and diagrams later, WE HAVE A DOCUMENT!!!

Lovers of folk tales will recognize a process much like that used by three
soldiers to make a rich stew from a stone in a town where there was
'nothing at all to add to the pot'. A useful metaphor in many a situation.

As it happens, though, the first image that came to mind today was that of
a snowball, growing larger as it rolls down hill.

Either way, it's a useful technique, especially in these ad hoc,
high-growth situations.

Jim Chevallier
North Hollywood

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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